A primitive humanity is not one that lacks education or wealth and dressing sense. It is rather characterised by an absence of an inward look. It is preoccupied with outer things and is rather dead to deeper truths within.
The veiled spectator
The veiled spectator watching from their depths
Fixed not his inward eye upon himself
Nor turned to find the author of the plot,
He saw the drama only and the stage.
The soul is covered with dense veils of Ignorance, more of a spark than a flame. The mind itself is like a dumb and mute witness to an outer field and an ignorant nature’s acts. It is yet to awaken and turn within and search and look for deeper causes, for God and the Light of the soul, all that characterise a developing humanity.
There was no brooding stress of deeper sense,
The burden of reflection was not borne:
Mind looked on Nature with unknowing eyes,
Adored her boons and feared her monstrous strokes.
In its early, primitive stage also there is a religion but it is mostly a worship of Nature-powers driven mostly out of reward and fear. The outward, material Nature is considered as the supreme Power or God. There is no deeper reflection to find the Master and Lord of Nature.
Absence of deeper seeking
It pondered not on the magic of her laws,
It thirsted not for the secret wells of Truth,
But made a register of crowding facts
And strung sensations on a vivid thread:
It hunted and it fled and sniffed the winds,
Or slothed inert in sunshine and soft air:
It sought the engrossing contacts of the world,
But only to feed the surface sense with bliss.
There is no deeper seeking for this early primitive humanity. It lives for food and shelter and the momentary pleasures of the body. Its knowledge is merely a collection of outward ‘facts’ as presented before the senses. It met the outer body of the world but not its soul nor its intrinsic sense, knew not its laws nor explored its deeper truths hidden behind appearances and the surfaces of life.
Missing the touch of soul
These felt life’s quiver in the outward touch,
They could not feel behind the touch the soul.
They responded only to external contacts. The soul-touch that awakens and brings to us the sense of beauty and truth and divinity was missing there. It was a crude type so to say.
To enjoy and survive
To guard their form of self from Nature’s harm,
To enjoy and to survive was all their care.
It lived only for passing joys and to survive in a world perceived as threatening and dangerous to its narrow self-regard.
The little self
The narrow horizon of their days was filled
With things and creatures that could help and hurt:
The world’s values hung upon their little self.
It was a world of selfish interests where one’s own benefit and harm counted most and their consciousness was limited to those who would help or hurt their personal self-interest.
Isolated, cramped in the vast unknown,
To save their small lives from surrounding Death
They made a tiny circle of defence
Against the siege of the huge universe:
They preyed upon the world and were its prey,
But never dreamed to conquer and be free.
Their sense of unity was also outward, a group of people safeguarding their narrow selfish interests. Thus alone they felt safe isolated from the rest of the universe in their boundaries of togetherness and their small comfort zones of life. As captives live in a prison so too they lived within a small and narrow psychological space where the only thing that counted was the jungle-Law, that is to say, to feed upon other creatures or become their food.
Custom and Tradition
Obeying the World-Power’s hints and firm taboos
A scanty part they drew from her rich store;
There was no conscious code and no life-plan:
The patterns of thinking of a little group
Fixed a traditional behaviour’s law.
Picking up scanty hints and imperfect glimpses here and there, they framed some kind of laws that became a tradition, maintained by the blind following of an unthinking humanity. The behaviour and even thoughts were fixed to conform with the beliefs of the group shutting out all questioning and quest for Light and Truth and Freedom and God.
Sri Aurobindo in his beautiful and inimitable way describes this primitive humanity that still continues to exist and yet goes unrecognised since it has learnt to hide itself in the garb of dress and a group behaviours that only ensure and strengthen its survival rather than any deeper search.