“On the Brink” – Nolini Kanta Gupta

An article, published in November 1976.

1.

One of its legs the Swan does not lift
as it soars upward out of the waters;
if perchance it lifted that also,
there would be then neither today nor tomorrow,
nor would there be day or night
nor would there be dawning any more.
Atharva Veda 11.4.21

Thus said the Vedic Rishi.

Even so, when the Mother withdrew physically from this earth we presumed that she did so with one foot only; the other foot she left planted here below for us to worship. Well, was that only a presumption or have things changed since then?

Here on this earth, we know, a battle was raging and is still raging between the Gods and the Asuras: men are their agents and instruments. The battle is to decide the destiny of earth and humanity. Mother was the leader of the divine army here. Now, human beings are a very uncertain quantity. They themselves do not know on which side they are ranging. Some perhaps may know to some extent, but that does not seem to count much in the actual reckoning of things.

Yes, the pity is that man does not know and yet so much, if not the whole thing, depends on him. For man as he is now is so far removed from godliness and so close to the Asuras that the battle upon earth between the Gods and the Asuras seems to be an unequal game. Man by actual nature is asuric: it is through aspiration that he is trying to be godly, but it seems he is now out of breath with his aspiration and has fallen back on his normal nature of the Asura.

Man enshrines in himself the individualised Godhead, the personal Divine: the possibility of the incarnation of the Divine lies in him alone. Hence the struggle between the Gods and the Asuras for the possession of the human vessel.

It was the intention of the Mother to implant the Divine upon the turbid soil of normal humanity, purifying it of its dross and suffusing it with the heavenly breath. If that is not done, then she will have no other choice but to leave the field altogether to the Asuras, in whatever camp or form they are, to fight it out among themselves and finally destroy themselves in the act even like the Yadavas of old after Krishna’s retirement. Some Asuras may pretend to be divine precisely to catch the voting strength, so to say, of the human being, who may still seem to have a prejudice or predilection for the divine things; but the truth will be out and the pretenders will be compelled to disclose themselves exactly as they are.

Then only, consequent on the self-annihilation of the Asuras, can this earth be free and open for the incoming of the new race of beings born divine, not made divine after birth. Whether any remnants of the human race will be left and in what condition, if any part of it can be incorporated or integrated into the new dispensation, is a mystery that will remain till the actuality reveals it.

But I must not leave it at that, for there is always hope and cheer, vistas of escape; the tunnel ends at last and at the end there is always the light. The Lord says indeed: I am Time, the Destroyer of the worlds — kālo’smi lokakṣayakṛt — but he also declares in no uncertain terms his voice of assurance, the resounding bugle-call of his pāñcajanya, the Divine conch:

Thou who hast come to this ephemeral and unhappy world,
love me and turn to Me…. Take refuge in Me alone.
I will deliver thee from all sin and evil.

anityam asukhaṁ lokam imaṁ prāpya bhajasva mām.
… māmekaśaranaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvā sarvapāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ.
Gita 9.33; 18.66

2

A god is a single undivided being, even as an Asura is a single undivided being. But man is a divided dual being; on one side he is a soul, on the other he is predominantly a body complex. By his soul he is akin to the Gods, by his external being he is neighbour to the Asuras. Man is thus the link between Heaven and Earth. He is the twice-born, dvija: he is planted in the mud of earth — he has the proverbial feet of clay — and his head soars high, it bathes in the sun’s light. He is an “emergence” out of earth, a being of evolution; he is also an “immergence”, a descent into earth from heaven: one part in him is godly, the other asuric. As the Divine he is Brahman, as the Asura, Aham.

So man occupies a central place in the scheme of the universe. Above him are stationed the Gods in the region of the higher mind and the heart; below him upon the earth rule the Asuras, the powers of the lower mind and the vital. In between is man, the intermediary being.

The Gods and the Asuras are in eternal struggle for the mastery of the three worlds and it is curious to note that they both seek the help and aid of man. We know of legends in which human beings, kings and warriors, are invited by the Gods to come over to their side in the struggle. We have heard of the Raghus whose war chariots drove right up to heaven from the earth to come to the help of the Gods — ānākam ratham vartmanām (Kalidasa). The Asuras however have a greater sway over man in a natural manner because of man’s earthly constitution. For the natural man is moved and controlled mostly by his external mind and vital; over him the earth’s gravitational pull holds almost complete sway. The world and men in their external life and action are the fief and domain of the Asura. They have to be reclaimed and remoulded. The possibility of it lies in the fact that along with the forces of gravitation there are forces of regeneration and elevation; only they seem to be slow in their action and not efficient enough under the present circumstances.

But man’s destiny is not to be confined to this sphere of the triple world. He has a higher destiny transcending these lower worlds and that is being worked out elsewhere deep within him. He has a destiny which even the Gods envy; for he has the Divine’s own home in him. It is God himself who is implanted in him, in the cavern of his heart — it is his soul.

I may leave you here. We have come to the door of the mystery of mysteries: there is the cavern where the great Being is installed — guhāhitam gahvareṣṭham — the supreme key to the solution and resolution of all problems, the attainment of divine perfection. It is for you to enter and find for yourselves the final consolation. Even so I am reminded of the great poet and seer Dante who was led by Virgil to the formidable door on which was inscribed in flaming letters the terrible heartrending line:

Give up all hope, you who enter here.

It is the door to eternal hell. But I bring you to the luminous door on which is inscribed in golden and gleaming letters the blissful line:

Keep up all hope, you who enter here.

 

3

There are two realms — the physical realm of action and the subtle realm of feeling (bhāva). It is not that the physical is the only real realm and the subtle is unreal or less real; the subtle may be equally real, even more real and concrete, even more physical, as it were. A physical blow is painful, but King Lear went mad because of a subtle blow, the blow of ingratitude which hit him more than the lashes of howling wild winds. One may forget the joy of physical embrace but there is a delight of sheer love, pure unshared love, an exquisite experience that remains indelibly puissant in the memory. The love of Dante for Beatrice is made of pure concentrated consciousness and has nothing physical in it, but it carried Dante in his peregrinations through all the worlds even to the very presence of God in heaven, to the presence of his divinised Beloved (in and with his very physical body, it is said).

You have to create the subtle world of feeling: it may be dwelling within you or enclosing you, surrounding you; it may be immanent or circumambient — both are the same in that sphere of existence or consciousness. The outer world is more or less independent of you, you have not much control over it, but the subtler ground is more pliant and plastic and obedient to your will and purpose. In the midst of all trouble and tribulation, even the greatest misery, this other realm you can build up to a great extent after your heart and make it the source of your life and delight. It can be your home of happiness and your celestial refuge. This realm will have as its basis love for the Mother and, at its apex, aspiration for her consciousness, and it will be from base to apex entirely composed of the Mother’s peace and quiet.

You can do it yourself, the capacity has been given to you — for the capacity is nothing else but the Mother’s Presence.

Published November 1976

 

 

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