A Talk by Alok Pandey from the “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)
As we are approaching the Darshan Day of Sri Aurobindo’s birth, let us contemplate on His being as an Avatara, the Avatara of the future ushering for us an Age of Light and Truth and Life Divine.
We share a brief correspondence that Sri Aurobindo had with a young disciple followed by a poem of Sri Aurobindo that was published when he was merely 10 years old.
Words of Sri Aurobindo: Correspondence with Shri Nagin Doshi
Nagin Doshi (ND): It is said that you and the Mother have been on the earth since its creation. But what have you been doing for so many millions of years in disguise? I say “disguise” because it is only now that you are showing yourselves to the world in your real nature.
Sri Aurobindo: Carrying on the evolution. (25 September 1935)
ND: I fail to understand what you mean by “Carrying on the evolution.” Could you explain this more fully?
Sri Aurobindo: That would mean writing the whole of human history. I can only say that as there are special descents to carry on the evolution to a farther stage, so also something of the Divine is always there to help through each stage itself in one direction or another. (26 September 1935)
ND: I can understand how ordinary people in the past may not have recognised your presence, especially when you lived outwardly like human beings. But how is it that even Sri Krishna, Buddha or Christ could not recognise your presence in this world?
Sri Aurobindo: Presence where and in whom? If they did not meet, they would not recognise, and even if they met there is no reason why the Mother and I should cast off the veil which hung over these personalities and reveal the Divine behind them. Those lives were not meant for any such purpose. (27 September 1935)
ND: If you and the Mother were on earth all the time, it would mean that you were here when those great beings descended. Then whatever your external cloak, how could you hide your inner self—the true divinity—from them?
Sri Aurobindo: But why cannot the inner self be hidden from all in such lives? Your reasoning would only have some force if the presence on earth then were as the Avatar, but not if it was only as a Vibhuti.
ND: So, in answer to the question, “Presence where and in whom?” I would say, “Presence in this world and in Thyself and the Mother.”
Sri Aurobindo: “Presence in Thyself” means nothing. It is “presence” in or behind some body and behind some outer personality. Also “presence” in what part of the world? If Mother were in Rome at the time of Buddha, how could Buddha know as he did not even know the existence of Rome?
ND: I did not mean that you or the Mother needed to cast off your veil. It is those great men who should have recognised you inspite of the veil.
Sri Aurobindo: One can be a great man without knowing such things as that. Great men or even great Vibhutis need not be omniscient or know things which it was not useful for them to know. (27 September 1935)
ND: You write: “But why cannot the inner self be hidden from all in such lives?” I fail to understand how anyone could hide one’s inner self from Avatars and Vibhutis.
Sri Aurobindo: An Avatar or Vibhuti have the knowledge that is necessary for their work; they need not have more. There was absolutely no reason why Buddha should know what was going on in Rome. An Avatar even does not manifest all the Divine omniscience and omnipotence; he has not come for any such unnecessary display; all that is behind him but not in the front of his consciousness. As for the Vibhuti, the Vibhuti need not even know that he is a power of the Divine. Some Vibhutis, like Julius Caesar for instance, have been atheists. Buddha himself did not believe in a personal God, only in some impersonal and indescribable Permanent.
ND: Still I can’t understand one thing: even though you did not cast off your veil, how could Krishna, Buddha and Christ not help casting off their veil in order to recognise you?
Sri Aurobindo: Why should they? The veil was there necessary for their work. Why should it be thrown off? So if the Mother was present in the life of Christ, she was there not as the Divine Manifestation but as one altogether human. For her to be recognised as the Divine would have created a tremendous disorder and frustrated the work Christ came to do by breaking its proper limits.
ND: Moreover, you must have heard that just before Christ was born some Rishis from India knew of the divine Descent and set out for Jerusalem merely by their inspiration, though they had not known what and where Jerusalem was.
Sri Aurobindo: I never heard of Rishis from India going there. There is a legend of some Mages getting an intimation that a divine Birth was there on earth and following a star that led them to the stable in which Christ was born. But this is a legend, not history. (29 September 1935)
ND: Since you and the Mother were on earth constantly from the beginning what was the need for Avataras coming down here one after another?
Sri Aurobindo: We were not on earth as Avataras. (15 December 1935)
ND: You say that you both were not on earth as Avatars and yet you were carrying on the evolution. Since the Divine Himself was on the earth carrying on the evolution, what was the necessity for the coming down of the Avatars who are portions of Himself?
Sri Aurobindo: The Avatar is necessary when a special work is to be done and in crises of the evolution. The Avatar is a special manifestation, while for the rest of the time it is the Divine working within the ordinary human limits as a Vibhuti. (18 December 1935)
(Ref. CWSA, Vol. 32, p. 88-91)
* * *
From the quickened womb of the primal gloom,
The sun rolled, black and bare,
Till I wove him a vest for his Ethiop breast,
Of the threads of my golden hair;
And when the broad tent of the firmament
Arose on its airy spars,
I pencilled the hue of its matchless blue,
And spangled it around with stars.
I painted the flowers of the Eden bowers,
And their leaves of living green,
And mine were the dyes in the sinless eyes
Of Eden’s Virgin queen;
And when the fiend’s art in the truthful heart
Had fastened its mortal spell,
In the silvery sphere of the first-born tear
To the trembling earth I fell.
When the waves that burst o’er a world accurst
Their work of wrath had sped,
And the Ark’s lone few, tried and true,
Came forth among the dead,
With the wondrous gleams of the bridal beams,
I bade their terrors cease,
As I wrote on the roll of the storm’s dark scroll
God’s covenant of peace.
Like a pall at rest on the senseless breast,
Night’s funeral shadow slept—
Where shepherd swains on Bethlehem’s plains,
Their lonely vigils kept,
When I flashed on their sight, the heralds bright,
Of Heaven’s redeeming plan,
As they chanted the morn, the Saviour born—
Joy, joy, to the outcast man!
Equal favour I show to the lofty and low,
On the just and the unjust I descend:
E’en the blind, whose vain spheres, roll in darkness and tears,
Feel my smile—the blest smile of a friend.
Nay, the flower of the waste by my love is embraced,
As the rose in the garden of kings:
At the chrysalis bier of the morn I appear,
And lo! the gay butterfly wings.
The desolate morn, like the mourner forlorn,
Conceals all the pride of her charms,
Till I bid the bright hours, chase the night from her flowers,
And lead the young day to her arms.
And when the gay rover seeks Eve for her lover,
And sinks to her balmy repose,
I wrap the soft rest by the zephyr-fanned west,
In curtains of amber and rose.
From my sentinel steep by the night-brooded deep
I gaze with unslumbering eye,
When the cynosure star of the mariner
Is blotted out from the sky:
And guided by me through the merciless sea,
Though sped by the hurricane’s wings,
His companionless, dark, lone, weltering bark,
To the haven home safely he brings.
I waken the flowers in the dew-spangled bowers,
The birds in their chambers of green,
And mountain and plain glow with beauty again,
As they bask in their matinal sheen.
O, if such the glad worth of my presence on earth,
Though fitful and fleeting the while,
What glories must rest on the home of the blessed,
Ever bright with the Deity’s smile.
CWSA 2: Collected Poems: 5 – 6
(published in 1883, when Sri Aurobindo was ten).
Light, endless Light! darkness has room no more,
Life’s ignorant gulfs give up their secrecy:
The huge inconscient depths unplumbed before
Lie glimmering in vast expectancy.
Light, timeless Light immutable and apart!
The holy sealed mysterious doors unclose.
Light, burning Light from the Infinite’s diamond heart
Quivers in my heart where blooms the deathless rose.
Light in its rapture leaping through the nerves!
Light, brooding Light! each smitten passionate cell
In a mute blaze of ecstasy preserves
A living sense of the Imperishable.
I move in an ocean of stupendous Light
Joining my depths to His eternal height.
CWSA 2: 618
[HH 185, “Sri Aurobindo the Avatara”, a talk by Alok Pandey on 2nd of August 2016]