A Talk by Alok Pandey from the “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)
This is the time when there are celebrations in India of the manifestation of Durga and Kali. It is the worship of Shakti, the power behind all things. Today we focus on one aspect of Shakti, on Kali or the Power that moves and changes all Time. Kala is Time and Kali is the power that moves Time. Generally this tremendous Power, the greatest among the feminine energies and divine powers stands behind but sometimes She intervenes, comes forward, steps into the forefront of creation when the world is progressing slowly due to much resistance from the Asura. With her divine intervention the resistances vanish in a moment. It is thus that she helps the evolutionary process but often with much destruction and upheavals with its attendant consequences.
Words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
Be wide in me, O Varuna; be mighty in me, O Indra; O Sun, be very bright and luminous; O Moon, be full of charm and sweetness. Be fierce and terrible, O Rudra; be impetuous and swift, O Maruts; be strong and bold, O Aryama; be voluptuous and pleasurable, O Bhaga; be tender and kind and loving and passionate, O Mitra. Be bright and revealing, O Dawn; O Night, be solemn and pregnant. O Life, be full, ready and buoyant; O Death, lead my steps from mansion to mansion. Harmonise all these, O Brahmanaspati. Let me not be subject to these gods, O Kali. (Sri Aurobindo, Aphorism 55)
Why does Sri Aurobindo give more importance to Kali?
It is good and necessary to possess all the divine qualities that these gods represent and symbolise; that is why Sri Aurobindo invokes them and asks them to take possession of his nature. But for one who wants union with the Supreme, for one who aspires for the supreme Realisation, this cannot be sufficient. This is why at the end he calls upon Kali to give him the power to go beyond them all. For Kali is the most powerful aspect of the universal Mother and her power is greater than that of all the gods in her creation. To unite with her means therefore to become more vast, more complete, more powerful than all the gods together and that is why Sri Aurobindo places union with her above and beyond all the others.
2 February 1961
It is the continuation of what Sri Aurobindo said in one of his letters: he says that India has done much more for spiritual life with her methods than Europe has done with all her doubts and questionings. That’s exactly it. It is a kind of refusal—the refusal to accept a particular method of knowledge which is not the purely material one, and the denial of experience, of the reality of experience. How can one convince them of that?… And then, there is the method of Kali which is to give a sound thrashing. But according tome that means a lot of damage without much result. This is another big problem. It seems that the only method which can overcome all resistances is the method of Love. But then the adverse forces have perverted love in such a way that many very sincere people, sincere seekers, have steeled themselves, so to say, against this method, because of its distortion. That is the difficulty. That is why it is taking time. However…
29 May 1965
Who can bear Kali rushing into the system in her fierce force and burning godhead? Only the man whom Krishna already possesses. (Sri Aurobindo – Aphorism 217)
This is a charming and most expressive way of saying that only the conscious Divine Presence is capable of mastering and conquering all violence.
I did not know for some time whether I loved Krishna best or Kali; when I loved Kali, it was loving myself, but when I loved Krishna, I loved another, and still it was myself with whom I was in love. Therefore I came to love Krishna better even than Kali. (Sri Aurobindo, aphorism 428)
Sri Aurobindo always had his own way of saying things, always original and always unexpected.
When will the world change into the model of heaven? When all mankind becomes boys and girls together with God revealed as Krishna and Kali, the happiest boy and strongest girl of the crowd, playing together in the gardens of Paradise. The Semitic Eden was well enough, but Adam and Eve were too grown up and its God Himself too old and stern and solemn for the offer of the Serpent to be resisted. (Sri Aurobindo, aphorism 477)
The Semites have afflicted mankind with the conception of a God who is a stern and dignified king and solemn judge and knows not mirth. But we who have seen Krishna, know Him for a boy fond of play and a child full of mischief and happy laughter.
Sumbha first loved Kali with his heart and body, then was furious with her and fought her, at last prevailed against her, seized her by the hair and whirled her thrice round him in the heavens; the next moment he was slain by her. These are the Titan’s four strides to immortality and of them all the last is the longest and mightiest. (Sri Aurobindo, Aphorism 519)
I do not understand the meaning of “the Titan’s four strides to immortality”.
Whatever the nature of an individual may be, ultimately, in one way or another, whether he fights him or loves him, the End is always the Divine.
Kali is Krishna revealed as dreadful Power and wrathful Love. She slays with her furious blows the self in body, life and mind in order to liberate it as spirit eternal.
Shall we complain when we see this helpless little “ego” disappearing and giving way to a luminous spark capable of understanding the universe?
Canst thou see God in thy torturer and slayer even in thy moment of death or thy hours of torture? Canst thou seeHim in that which thou art slaying, see and love even while thou slayest? Thou hast thy hand on the supreme knowledge. How shall he attain to Krishna who has never worshipped Kali? (Sri Aurobindo, Aphorism 541)
All is the Divine and the Divine alone exists.
Words of the Mother
October 19, 1960
(The day before ‘Kali Puja,’ the ritual festival devoted each year in India to the goddess Kali, the warrior aspect of the universal Mother)
She has already been here for two days and … Oh, yesterday especially, she was so … in such a mood! – like a warrior. I said to her, ‘But why not change them through … through an excess of love?’
So then she answered (I remember how she put it), ‘First a good punch in the chest (she didn’t say ‘in the nose’!), a good punch in the chest, and then when they’re down, gasping for air, they’re ready.’
That’s one opinion!
January 28, 1964
“The Mother’s victory is essentially a victory of each sadhak over himself. It can only be then that any external form of work can come to a harmonious perfection.”
November 12, 1937
The world isn’t ready. That’s the worst part. The world isn’t ready. So then, if it is Kali, it means everything back to the melting pot, and with the means at their disposal, that may mean having to start the whole civilization from scratch again – how many centuries wasted?
What has come down to us from the civilizations that disappeared?… Nothing. Nothing, not even one exact bit of information.
All that, all this Matter all the time going … (gesture of rising and being swallowed back), making effort, producing forms, producing an element that can manifest consciousness, and then, brff! (gesture of being swallowed back) And again (gesture of rising), and back it goes again – what a terrible waste! A great waste.
September 25, 1965
April 1, 1970
Did I tell you the vision I had here?… I’ve had many, but there is one … It was after the War was declared: between the time when the War (the first War) was declared and my departure. There was a rather long period: the War was declared in August  and I left next February. Well, between the two, one day while in meditation, I saw Kali enter through the door – Kali of the vital, naked, with a garland of heads – she danced into the room. And she told me (she stayed like that, a little distance away), she told me … I don’t remember the exact words, but: “Paris is captured” or “Paris is about to be captured” or “Paris is destroyed” – something of the sort, anyway the Germans were advancing on Paris. And then, I saw the Mother – the Mother, that is to say … how does he call her? Maha …
Huge!… You see, Kali had a human size, but she was huge, up to the ceiling. She came in behind Kali and stood there, and she said, “NO” – simply, just like that (in a quiet categorical tone). So I (laughing) … In those days, there was no radio, we would get the news by wire; so we got the news that the Germans were advancing on Paris, and at the same moment (that is, the day I had my vision), at the corresponding moment, without reason they were struck with panic, they turned back and went away…. It was just the same moment…. They were advancing on Paris; so Kali came in, saying, “Paris is captured.” And then She came (Mother brings her hand down sovereignly): NO…. Like that. It really was remarkable, because I was simply sitting there, looking. And it happened in front of me.
I told Sri Aurobindo about it, he didn’t say anything. It was he who would get the news. And later on, in the afternoon, he told me, “Here’s the news….” It seems they were suddenly seized with panic; they thought, “It can’t be” – there was no one to oppose them, the way was open, all clear, they didn’t encounter anyone or anything, so they said to themselves, “It’s a trap.” And … (laughing) they ran away. They turned around and left…. That was really interesting.
Anyway, yesterday (I think it’s in answer to this story of Maheshwari and Sri Aurobindo saying the world isn’t ready), I wrote something in French, but it was under the pressure of Sri Aurobindo’s consciousness. He said (Mother takes a note and reads):
“According to the law of men, the guilty must be punished. But there is a more imperative law than the human law: it is the law of the Divine, the law of compassion and mercy. It is thanks to this law that the world can last and progress …
The vision was so clear. It was such a clear vision…. If you follow this law of the guilty who must be punished, then little by little, with the unfolding of things, everything should be punished! (Mother laughs) Nothing would remain! So Sri Aurobindo said:
“It is thanks to this law that the world can last and progress towards Truth and Love.”
The guilty must be punished! … It’s always the same idea; men always have that idea: the guilty must be punished – but where does that lead to??
(Soon afterwards, Mother remains concentrated on the photo of a European lady vaguely connected to the Ashram.)
… I don’t feel. I have no contact – I have a contact with everybody, but I mean there’s no special affinity: the psychic appears to be quite asleep. It’s vital and intellectual. The psychic is asleep, or absent behind, not moving.
Her difficulties must be mostly of a mental order.
What can save all that?
It’s precisely because there are too many people like this that the earth is in difficulty! Too many, too many people are in the mind: mental difficulties and more mental difficulties…. You can’t get through (impenetrable gesture). It’s an endless process. And that’s what makes those … bang! those battles, wars, conflicts necessary.
You know, an ardent faith, a psychic aspiration, a fervor, a self-giving, instead of being forever turned in on oneself, turned in on oneself …. A self-giving, that’s what is needed to save the world!
Mental faith isn’t enough, psychic fervor is necessary – selfgiving, self-abnegation.
The body itself is learning that every time it thinks of itself, there’s a small catastrophe – not “catastrophe,” but I mean on the body’s scale: a cellular catastrophe every time it even slightly turns in on itself. It must forget itself completely, forget itself, and most importantly, it must not try to find support, comfort, understanding, help or anything of the sort (horizontal gesture all around) – only there (gesture with the hands open upward and forming a kind of upside down triangle): the only support is the Divine. The only support. The only help, the only responsibility. All the rest…. There isn’t one thing coming from or towards a human being that isn’t mixed; and the moment it’s mixed, it means conflict. This is a time of extremes, even extremes in the downright material. Did I tell you two the other day that I had received the first flower of a plant which visibly was supramental power – a flower like this (gesture), a hibiscus? And yesterday there was the first flower of another plant, also a hibiscus, this big, snow-white, with such a color at the center! An indefinable color, it can’t be described…. It’s golden pink, but so beautiful that you wonder how such colors can be physical. A flower this big (gesture, about five inches), the first flower was yesterday. And that was VISIBLY (it expressed itself, you know) the Victory of Love, the Power of Love…. It’s as if all this physical Nature were, oh, like this (gesture of intense aspiration), trying – she tries, and there is a Response. They are blessed not to have a mind.
It was beautiful. It doesn’t keep, otherwise I would have kept it to show it to you. How beautiful it was! Like this (same gesture of fervent aspiration): a thirst, a thirst for the Divine, a thirst for the Divine. All those mental ratiocinations and complications, it all goes round and round in circles. Yes, it does bring about what’s now taking place: a sordid conflict, really sordid, between Falsehood and Truth.
And the government is rotten. People whose very tactics and principle of action are falsehood: to deceive and deceive and deceive. And naturally, to deceive themselves.
You know that these are the Puja days: there were Durga’s days, and there will soon be Kali’s day. So then, all the Powers are like this (gesture ready to strike), at the slightest hint they would charge down. And one is obliged to hold them (immobilizing gesture), to take great care not to have the least indignation, otherwise …
And the supreme Consciousness, above, looks on, and so … That’s the supreme Smile.
I told you about the meeting with Durga. Now there is Kali, waiting. And naturally, it’s the great power – the great power, a power … you understand, they are stronger, more powerful than this teeming humanity, so if you let them loose … As for me, I want Love to be victorious RIGHT NOW – she will have the victory, she will, but … not after so much breakage.
We have reached a climax, because the impression is really that mind is triumphing over Matter, and it is convinced of it. Convinced – they go everywhere at their own sweet will, they know all that goes on everywhere … and they don’t even know what goes on inside themselves.
October 19, 1967
There must be faith in the love and wisdom of God fulfilling Himself through us, fulfilling the Yoga-siddhi, fulfilling our life-work, working out all for our good even when it is apparently veiled in evil; and there must be faith in the power of the Shakti manifested by Him in this adhara, to sustain, work out and fulfil the divine knowledge, power and joy in the Yoga and in the life. Without shraddha, there is no shakti; imperfect shraddha means imperfect shakti. Imperfection may be either in the force of the faith or in its illumination. It is sufficient at first to have full force of the faith, for we cannot from the beginning of the Yoga, have full illumination. Then, however, we err or stumble, our force of faith will sustain us. When we cannot see, we shall know that God withholds the light, imposing on us error as a step towards knowledge, just as He imposes on us defeat as a step towards victory.