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



                I am very grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me to speak this evening on the eve of the celebration of the Jayanti of Sri Aurobindo


            As for the important question raised, I can say that I have been very sincerely trying to follow a different line of thought, which my country has given to me through tradition. I must confess, that I am fundamentally convinced of certain truths of one system of philosophy of which I am aware. It is also a matter for confession that I understood my Ramanuja much better through Sri Aurobindo than I was able to do through others. He, it was that made me enter into the sadhana of the whole thing. Whilst I am very clear as to what is tattva, hita and purusartha and that in India we are not interested in what is called kama and artha and whilst we have throughout guided ourselves to the one single goal which any man ought to seek and will seek inevitably, that is freedom, I feel that this freedom requires a series of delineations. I consider that Sri Aurobindo has provided a fundamentally integral knowledge of the hitas and purusarthas. About his tattva, I think he has not deviated from the most ancient statement: “Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha vadanti Sarvam khalvidam Brahma”. He has not played a different tune, nor are we prepared to play a different tune. That is the most important fact we have to recognise. Whether you call God or the Ekam, ‘Brahman’ or Eswara or by whatever name He is known, or by whatever personality He dominates the world, I can say that it is not at all in contradiction to this original statement of “Ekam Sat, viprah bahudha vadanti Sarvam khalvidam Brahma”.


            We have had evolution, may be historically conditioned. We have worshipped Sri Vishnu at one time, Shiva at another time and Brahma at yet another time. We may also be worshipping lesser ones that is, the sons of these or personalities of the One. But I need not take you to mythology. Mythologies grow in the consciousness of the people, and have value for a particular people. A truth might have to be emphasized for the particular purpose of divine action, but that certainly does not mean that you ought not to search for Him and that you are merely to accept what is called a custom in the matter. It is necessary for us to know the whole Brahman, if it is possible. That it is impossible, some have told us. I am not grudging them that truth. But I am saying that I want to know the whole. Nobody can tell me that I should not aspire to know the whole. I hold that the Gita is a fundamental scripture. It is, and it is claimed by everybody who has some reverence for Sri Krishna that it is a Upanishad. It is a distilled essence of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Please note that it is not something that contradicts any portion of the Vedas. It is something that is the essence of the Vedas, the Brahmanas, Mantras and Upanishads put together. There are many people who pay lip homage to Brahmanas. I feel that the mantras are interpreted in the Brahmanas. The meaning of the mantras cannot be understood apart from the Brahmanas in which they are used. I am not making a very wild statement, but I will rather trust in the genius of the ancients who have put them together as one scripture. Again, I must say, to Sri Aurobindo’s credit that he brought us back to this recognition.


            Nobody else has drawn attention to the great volume of Brahmana literature, which is slighted by the Westerners as meaningless rituals and so on. Sri Aurobindo said that there is another cue offered in the matter. That cue is that yoga is not to be understood in the naturalist way, but in the adhyatmika way. Even for that suggestion we should be grateful. We are provided with an apparatus of mind to see that particular literature with a different vision and hope. To-day, if there is something which we hold as fundamentally capable of providing us a clear knowledge of the hereafter, the Brahmanas provide it. Take away the Brahmanas. There is no after-life to be explained hereafter. Even the Upanishads cannot grant you knowledge of after-life. It can grant you freedom and that freedom may be meaningless. So far as that point is concerned, I feel that Sri Aurobindo has given us a lead, if not a fuller explanation. I do not say that he has reconciled, or that he has supplanted this in order to implant himself in that place. Not at all. He has provided a modern apparatus for thinking afresh on our old philosophy.


            Secondly, we are accustomed to value our Gita. Sri Aurobindo holds that the Gita is a Gita of liberation.He agrees with our ancestors that the Gita is the Moksha Sastra, not at all intended for the lonely purpose of having an action done and somehow done. That is one way of looking at it. If it is a Moksha Sastra, what is the moksha we are seeking? The greatness of Gita would depend upon its richness of contribution towards general libereation, starting with a little liberation from my doubt as to the conflict between custom and my duty, or a higher or new morality introduced into the world–the morality of Ahimsa, the morality of social welfare or social life, or preservation of social dharma and individual dharma. I believe that here again the problem, if it is faced as a mental being, will not be very simple.


            You all know that the Essays on the Gita were written by Sri Aurobindo at a time when Sri Bal Gangadhar Tilak was projecting his work. In the earliest number of “Arya” Sri Aurobindo made the statement: “I hear that Sri Bal Gangadhar Tilak is going to bring out Gita Rahasya. I am sure it is going to be very valuable, but I am also told that he holds that the Gita gives you Karma Yoga and I believe it is not the complete truth”. So, he projected his own Essays on the Gita and it was written under such conditions. He held, even as some of the ancients of India have held, that Karma Yoga may be the beginning. It is necessary, but it is not the whole meaning. Even the capacity for you to perform Karma properly will not arise unless you have got the Jnana.  Infact  Jnana may grow by action, by performing the ritual actions Even the performance of ritual actions will certainly lead you to Jnana, but that would not be enough, for that Jnana would only be building up itself for a greater and fuller absorption in the Divine, the enjoyment of the Divine–that is Bhakti. Jnana will transform itself into Bhakti and you will find that your works will transform themselves into devotional duties. Everything then would become just subsidiaries to Bhakti. Bhakti is the culmination. Now, the modern interpreters of the Gita would be satisfied with this type of interpretation. I should feel that most of us are satisfied with this integration of our human faculties or modes of consciousness. Mentally you can assimilate a wee bit of this and a wee bit of that, but the main contradiction between the conative, cognitive and affective levels of our Being would remain. A solution would not have come and therefore, a sadhana is inculcated in the whole process. Yoga is a means of sadhana. Yagna is a means of sadhana. Yagna and yoga have all the same purpose, that is the transformation of one’s relationship between oneself, the world and the gods. Karma Yoga will bring a relation between the higher worlds and one’s world. Yagna is for the realization for a particular dynamic interdependence of the higher and the lower worlds. As for Yaga, this may also be taken as above. But what is Yoga? Yoga is a particular relationship, which one establishes between oneself and God through knowledge. This relationship can be three-fold. It can be done through works; but it would not be done if you do only works. It is necessary to find that the Divine is within yourself and yourself is the seat of the Divine action and if you do not know that it is the Seer, the guiding Niyanta within you, that is the Eswara, there is no possibility of getting into real Jnana Yoga. You must identify your true self with Brahman, but that identification can happen through works or devotion or affection. But mere Tattva Jnana even is meaningless. It cannot stand on its own stem. It has no roots. It must manifest itself  in the action which is considered to be what we call kainkarya – devotional service or what we call devotion. Devotion, according to His Will is a particular methodology of approach. It is not everything that becomes Bhakti. There are two types of Bhakti. There is a particular methodology called Ashtanga Yoga in Bhakti. This is an important part of devotion for it fixes one’s mind on God in surrender and submission. Bhakti would demand Ashtanga Yoga. Some ask the question “Can you love God really? Does every part of your being respond to the love of God? Is your nail loving God?” that is an important question. Nobody can love truly unless God grants one such love through His Grace. To love truly means that one cannot live without Love of God. By Love of God should one live or hold on to life. Some of the great men have withstood the test. That is why their lives, even through the shadow of time, shine. The modern interpreter of Gita is more satisfied with saying that the three Yoga have correspondence with the three attitudes or the modes of consciousness of man. I consider that the Gita goes a little deeper. It is to this point that Sri Aurobindo leads us. I do see that one important Yoga to which Sri Vaishnavism has referred is Bhara Samparpana Yoga or Nyasa Yoga. This is a unique feature of Gita. Says our Lord “sarvadharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja; aham tvam sarvapapebhyo moksayisyami, ma sucah” – “If you cannot do all these three yogas and even if you are lingering over, surrender all of them and take me alone as your sole Refuge. Surrender unto me and I shall take you through the whole yoga.” Yogaksemam vahamyaham. Here ksema is freedom; and Yoga is again to eternally abide with one’s God, in all parts. This Mantra, has been expounded with extraordinary lucidity by the Sri Vaishnava Acharyas – I should say, reverence – by the commentators of Gita. This particular verse has a broader deliberate meaning in Sri Aurobindo. Just as it has a meaning for the immediate solution of one’s problems or even the higher solutions of problems in Visishtadvaita, one does not have anything that goes beyond to the higher evolution of man. For example you may find that you are not capable of achieving your self, either because of your birth or because of your status or because of your condition or because of the debacle that comes to man at any time. You may find that you are helpless on occasions. You may ask, “To whom shall I go? Who shall be the person who will save me?” it may be that I am against God also. Such a moment occurs even to an atheist. Well then, the Lord says “Even if Ravana came to me for refuge I shall save him”. God says, “Surrender unto me and then see how I save you. It may not be according to your terms that I am going to save you, but it will be according to my terms. Save you, I shall.” This faith in God’s words you should develop. If you can do that, it is all right. I consider that the Alwars have stated this position of the omnipotence of God’s Grace very firmly. Sri Ramanuja has stated it also very firmly. They have stated that surrender is a fundamental thing and that will lead us further to the ultimate state of living in God. Do not have any doubts about God’s Grace. Your capacity for reasoning into God’s nature or your capacity to perform Yajnas which are very costly according to some people, but which are very simple and not at all costly according to others is very slight. But we do not, nowadays, have even teachers to tell us how to perform them. For example, we all are aware that we are not able to do Karma Yoga, nor able to follow Jnana Yoga. Most of us do not know how to do Astaanga Yoga and follow Panchakala Vidhi. Gita says, “I am the path. I am the Upaya; I am your Purushartha; In me you shall find your freedom.” As to what that freedom is and what the content of that freedom is , at that point, the Gita stops. The Gita tells one to surrender unto Him. Of course Sri Krishna preaches earlier “Become of my mind, do my actions, think of me, surrender unto me and I shall do everything.” Here the full instruction is given. If a man is solely devoted to God and surrenders to Him, he has done all that has to be done (krtakrtya). If he does it, and does it consistently through abyasa, that is, pursues it, holding on to the feet of the Lord without that vice of mankind, namely asuya, envy and greed, he will achieve the goal, namely God Realisation which is Moksha. That is how the whole thing has been so brilliantly summarized in the last chapter of the message of  Gita.


But here Sri Aurobindo was not quite happy at that particular point of conclusion. Where the Gita has left the Yoga, he starts. It is not the final conclusion of the Yoga. He starts the beginning of spiritual life or describes God’s Yoga as leading to Divine Evolution. He says “You must find the Lord acting through you in every one of your limbs and in everyone of your parts and see the transformation of mind and body.” The surrender of each part is necessary.  You may say it is a very difficult process. You may say, “How can I surrender?” the answer is “Do not worry. Be surrendering to God. Only keep yourself fit for God. Do not obstruct God’s activity.” I consider this is a very great revolution of the concept of Yoga, which Sri Krishna has given to us. It is to the merit of Sri Aurobindo, I should say, that he seized upon this particular point and utilised it to its fullest, for the sake of divinisation of man. I do not say it was not anticipated.


            Then, there is the problem of getting rid of the ego. In this divine Yoga, your ego would have ceased to exist without any effort on your part. It is such a difficult thing nowadays for people to get rid of their ego. Ego is the obstructor. I cannot get rid of it, for every effort to get rid of it makes it more powerful. I simply cannot liquidate my ego by own efforts. When I become humble, I claim I am the most humble. When I become a servant of the people, I am tempted to claim that I am the humblest servant of the people and I develop a peculiar satwic conceit, and that can be terrible. No one knew about this fact better than the Seer of the Isha-Upanishad himself. There is this problem of getting rid of the egoness without getting rid of it actually. You cannot abolish the ego. It must be made the vehicle of the Divine. That is the only way of liquidating the ego. You must become only an instrument of the Divine. There is no other alternative. Try every other method, even by devotion. It is action, divine kainkarya that can liquidate egoness. It must be practised in the context of divine life with our understanding of society and man, the world and the society etc.


            I hold that Sri Aurobindo is the most orthodox of modern thinkers, if only people could understand him. That is why I hold on fundamentally to the view the East is different from the West, because our value concepts are different and these are Orient and belong to the East, whereas the value concepts of the West are money and mammon, power and pelf and human comfort and pleasure. They are what we call our enemies–Kama and Artha, but that does not mean that in God’s world they are not there, used through the divine attitude for the Divine. What is the purpose of God ? you may ask that question. Am I the person to say that God must do this and do that? The Sastras do say that all the four Purusharthas should be desired, but under restraint and regulation. Sovereignty, power and pelf for whom should we have, for whom should we exercise, through whom should we exercise and who should exercise? These are the three factors that have to be remembered. You start the work. The question is for whom, by whom and who? If you abolish yourself and if all are for God, by God and God’s work, one can go to the forests with as much ease as one could walk into a palace; and he becomes verily a sage. It must be said that only when the human consciousness is changed, then only his present standards of action can get changed. Unless one has peace that is of God, he can hardly be fit for change. One must think of that particular aspect that peace comes only through the Divine.


            It is asked, “How does evolution really proceed at that point? Is material transformation possible? Should we think of a better fitted man for the enjoyment of Divine existence other than the present human being? Is the body, which the superman gets, different from ours? Should it be different from ours or should we get some experience beyond this body?” All these are definite questions. Is evolution possible beyond this particular human being in this world? I am not here, of course, standing as a Zoologist or anyone of those who are speculating as to the past and future of man. I leave it to those people who think that matter moves the mind. I wish they accept it. But for me and for those who think like me – who are a very small band of people–I hold that mind rules matter and it has been ruling matter so far. Now, I want the Divine mind to rule this matter. That is all the difference. The Gita has stated it in so many words. I have not even extended its meaning. It is there, but the problem that is posed is this: Is a general evolution of all possible, which is not in consonance with Darwinian Theory of Evolution? The concept of Sarvamukti, general higher evolution, bristles with difficulties. That is, firstly an individual must change himself and then others could follow the course of Evolution. I consider that the individual must change himself first. The nucleus of a new higher Evolution is dependent on the human individual’s individual evolution spiritually. For this one must know one’s real nature. Svadharma understood in the highest sense. Is it not then clear that each man must follow his svadharma? Everybody who reads the Gita thinks that he is an Arjuna. But fighting is not the duty of everybody in the world; certainly not the duty of philosophers. That is not their dharma at any rate. One has to know one’s svadharma and act accordingly. Sri Krishna himself says: “If you refuse to fight now, you will fight later. Your Svabhava will make you do it.” That is very important. So if I want to-day to fight, I don’t know whether I may not run away from the fight as soon as its starts. That is why I say any nation, which does not give to their people, the freedom for Svadharma and Svabhava, will not prosper. Therefore, I hold that Sri Krishna was right in asking Arjuna to fight. Do not say that Gita is only telling me this and I am only to fight. Even if a nuclear bomb comes here, I am not going to fight. I may not fight. There may be no need to fight. What I am saying is that one has to find out the Divine in oneself and that is a path that leads to good conduct and this is unique in Hinduism. Sri Aurobindo emphasizes this aspect that Divine multiplicity is something, which you must revere as a unique universal fact. The individual is the universal; the universal is the individual, provided at this point you make yourself a perfect instrument, delegate or part of the supreme consciousness of God.


            Now, as for the transformation, Sri Aurobindo says we have gone so far up to this point in Natural Evolution. The truth of Natural Evolution should be sought in Spiritual Evolution that is underway. We find that, that with all our religions for the past 5,000 years, nobody seems able to transform or bring God to Earth. Some say that the best that a man can afford to do in this world is to get himself liquidated for ever, having no rebirth. That may be a very easy solution. We cannot have a future here. Why should we have a future here, when there are other worlds, which are much better? Surely, I admit that. I do not like to leave my country. We are a people who are having what we may call a “land-love”. Why should I go away? Can I not make my house, which is dusty and stupid, much better? Well, let me ask that question. So also, I ask of the human being “Can he not be changed for the better?” God has given me some transcendent desires, which the artharthis (material mindedness) cannot fulfil. It is here that Sri Aurobindo’s emphatic assertion that there is a way and manner, the very Gita way and the Gita manner, comes in. God descends to lift up, rescue and transform the human world into Divine World–or a world that reveals the Eternal Divine Laws. This is possible because the Divine is all love and love is the only thing that descends or condescends to transform the human process of Evolution. God’s love for man is something very different from man’s love for God. With the best of intentions man asks something of God. Even if he says “I do not want anything from you”, he lurkingly wishes something to be given in return for his offering, for his prayers or surrender. It may be just ecstasy that he craves. Therefore, I consider that true Bhakti seeks of Bhoga of the Divine Form. It is an enjoyment of God through Yajna and Yoga. The three yogas in the light of God’s yoga become the divinised Yogas of Love (Bhoga), yoga and Yajna. Thus the defects of commission and omission in Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yogas transcended. For when you surrender your love not for the fulfilment of your limited personality, but by the entire offering of it to God for His fulfilment, what happens to you? There, God reveals his love to you by giving Himself to you. He takes up his residence in you consciously and moulds it and changes you wholly. He wants to see whether by giving all the ecstasies of Bhoga, Yoga and Yaga He can make you feel yourself with Him. The order of the Yogas gets reversed, if I may say so, and all knowledge and works proceed on the basis of Love or full enjoyment of God’s Nature. You see that the Divine action is from top to bottom and not from bottom to top. This is what we mean by descent (avatarana), which transforms the individual and leads to his ascent or evolution. He must act in you. What is the vehicle of His action? What is the particular structure that He creates within you, that structure which will act through you? In earlier evolution, up to man, the human finite rational mind with all its logical dialectical patterns and characteristics was created by God through which knowledge flowed to man of higher things. Now, Sri Aurobindo says, the Divine has got His own Divine Mind through which He acts. That is what I call, the apprehension by man of a particular structure, which acts universally in all men. On the other hand, you want some clarity on the operations of the super-mind, through even your mind, or your ego, which the supermind has begun to use. In the case of the human mind or manas, it is a delegate of the ignorant ego. It is doing the functions of the finite ego. This position is altered. The supermind becomes the ruler and your finite ego becomes the ruled. A new function is taken over by the ego. It becomes the instrument of the Universal Supermind of God. That is why I say, “the Supreme Mind is the mind of God, acting through me”. Why I should say, the mind of God? For, we cannot extricate a structure from a function and a structure–a particular shape or pattern or logic of the infinite is necessary for functioning as Infinite or instrument of the Infinite. This is the rationale for postulating the actual existence of the Supermind. Another question has been raised. Whether this Supermind will be inherited as in the case of the human mind in a biological sense? I emphasise the Divine is much bigger than any mind – even the Divine Mind, because Divine is Divine and Infinite and it is merely something projecting in a universal way which will act as a common Mind for every soul which has offered itself to Him. It is not, I think, perfectly correct to say that when we speak of an inheritance of biological characteristics, there is no inheritance of acquired characteristics of spiritual life also. I will only say that we are unable to say about spiritual things, because it depends upon conscious acceptance of the Divine in one’s life by each. Samskaras in Hindu Religion played this role for mind and for the birth of the Divine Mind in us. Our Western friends are yet to tell me about how mind is getting inherited at all in the human species, because they are under the grip of a new famine, the famine of spirituality, being essentially materialistic in their approach. That is why I hold they are not the persons to explain to me what my spiritual situation is, what the human situation is and so on, because I find that on every point they are wrongly approaching the problem. The lower law cannot explain the higher phenomenon. Consciousness cannot be explained by Unconsciousness.


            A point was raised with regard to the rationality of the concept of Avatar. It has been said that the order of the Ten Avatars shows ancient’s knowledge of the evolutionary process. Here again, we should not accept that it is mere Natural Evolution. Even Prof. Haldane has not given his full credence to this. Well, I do not think Sri Aurobindo himself depended upon this explanation very much. The real argument hinges on the transformation of the man made by the Descent of God in a plane of being so as to being about the evolution of a mental structure, appropriate for a higher kind of life, not by the individual and not through a resistance or reception to the environment or as a response to the challenges of new situations. The Divine has provided earlier the type of mind which creates its structure for each level of Evolution. To-day we have the Divine providing the Supermind which creates its functional structure for a higher humanity. It must be inheritable by future Humanity through such integration as have achieved with It. There is a need for a consciousness that can accept a profounder concept of Spiritual Evolution, which is an extension of the Natural Evolution, in a sense, even modifying our views of it.


            Sri Aurobindo’s main thesis is very similar to that of theosophy on certain lines. There is no contradiction so far as the main points are concerned. I have only to say that the formation of what is called the Supermind, which is very different from what Mr. Fitche or Nietzsche or any other person from the West thought about it, is a Structure with its own unique functions and laws. This may be called the Mother also or Mother-Consciousness. There is appropriateness in it. The appropriateness lies in this, that just as the human race was mothered by the mind - manas and has become manava, so also the Supermind is the womb of those willing loving minds, which will be transformed and be made divine. Our Mind has to be born anew of it. This is a very important point, because many people who think that evolution is coming from below do not know that Sri Aurobindo emphasized that the Avatar concept, even by the formation of the higher levels of consciousness, is much more important and in fact the precursor of the ascent of the lower. The Higher attracts the lower to Itself, even as if something magnetic is placed above, the lower jumps to it. I consider that seventy five years ago this has been already postulated by the great masters of the Theosophical Society and later on continued with such profound luminosity and conviction of the traditional style of Sri Aurobindo. I hold the view was open to the question that it was non-traditional and unorthodox in the Hindu Sense; but even that particular charge cannot be leveled against Sri Aurobindo. For, however much, he may differ form Sayana (and Sri Ramanuja differed from Sankara and Madhva still more from Sankara – that did not make them alien to orthodoxy), Sri Aurobindo has been loyal to the Ancient Prasthanas of Vedanta. It was as much our part of the tradition and Sri Aurobindo has given us a renewed tradition. For the confirmation of his Spiritual Truths Sri Aurobindo went to the Vedas, Upanishads, the Gita and above all he went to the Agamas, namely the Tantras and in one of his biographical incidents it is narrated that he taught some of his disciples the Bhagavatsastra Pancharatra. Sri Aurobindo taught us to actually see that the Divine descends in each one of us and actually acts within us. Regarding Sarva Mukti, that it is what all will evolve to have, he was speaking in a sensible way. He was quite certain that if a few people will take to this new sadhana, this evolution will lead to the general spiritual evolution. All evolution, including natural evolution started with a change or mutation in some individual or individuals and later was by a process of inheritance biologically proliferated and become general. Thus a few individuals will form the nucleus of a Race, a New Race. The Divine Humanity will mean Heaven on Earth – Infinite Consciousness – Bliss here by the transformation of the Earth or finite consciousness and Ignorance. Here, there can be Heaven. Our Great Acharyas have spoken that where God is, there is their Vaikunta. They did not want to go to the other world. This truth Sri Aurobindo has reaffirmed with great beauty and power. Therefore, I salute the Great Teacher who has given me, in my own life, some aspiration to realize what the great teachers of the past have told us and has added just that little force, may be a mighty force, by which my life may be completely transformed and made Divine. I only hope and pray that it will be Humanity’s good fortune too. Earn the measure of that great man’s blessings for humanity, by which he brought the Supermind into himself and has striven to have his Yoga  spread to all so that he who goes for it and who is fit, can accept it and grow in it into the Divine Nature in all his parts.

* from an Address delivered at the Jayanti celebrations in August 1956 under the auspices of Sri Aurobindo Study Circle, Madras.