Today, the 3rd September 2019 is Shri T.V. Kapali Sastry’s birthday. Though, in keeping with the ashram ethos there is no swami or yogi or any other title prefixed before his name, yet he would easily qualify as a yogi of a high caliber. He is among those rare souls who had not only practiced, but had his own experiences and realisations through traditional yoga practices before coming to Sri Aurobindo and surrendering at the Mother’s Feet. Today we share a slice from his spiritually rich life.
A portion of preface to the book ‘Flame of White Light by Shri M.P. Pandit
I remember the days when the Mother was coming to the terrace of the Ashram buildings in the evenings for a light walk. Sastriar used to wait on the roof of his house to watch this ‘Moving Column of White Light’, which always recalled to him the Skambhahymned by the ancient Rishis of the Veda, the Cosmic Pillar, the Spinal Column of the Universe, — the Skambha in which All is rooted, skambe sarvarh pratiṣṭhitam, the Skambha that upholds, dādhāra, that enters into and possesses all this Universe, idam visvam bhuvanam āviveśa. (Atharva Veda X.7).
Notes from Shri Kapali Sastry
Extracts from his book ‘Flame of White Light
The Mother! O, She is more than a Miracle! The Divine Conscious Force has chosen a human body and Personality!
One need not know or even accept the human form of the Mother; still if one is deeply and sincerely pining for the Divine Mother, he is sure to get the response; and this response is easier to get today on Earth than ever before.
One’s devotion and faith increases in depth and sincerity by a mere repetition of the Name.
The Mother is the living symbol of the Supreme Shakti.
Under suitable conditions even the physical eye can see the column of light above Her, overhead; and this is different from the aura, snow-white in colour, which emanates from Her person.
Believe me that my faith and devotion are not ideal and complete. Still the very Name MOTHER has done me a lot which it would be impossible for many births to achieve. Every week is opening fresh vistas. I have known of no Yoga which lifts in a trice the human creature from the mire to the higher altitudes of the Divine Mother…
I have only one thought: and that is the MOTHER.
The ‘source of strength’ in me is a Presence, quite distinct from the outer personality and that is the Mother who in Her individual being and in the very physical body harbours the Divine souls and cosmic godheads, incorporates the cosmic consciousness, carries with Her the Supreme Eternal Divine, and allows to flow from Her the Peace that passeth all understanding, the Power that builds the Cosmos, the Light that is the source of all knowledge and the soul of all things, and the Ananda that is the rasa, the very essence of all existences.
The whole body must be made up of the ‘heart’ and become the heart itself, then alone She can fill the body with Her Presence constantly; every atom, every cell of the body is intended to become Her Abode.
With Her Divine solicitude which acts best when the being surrenders, with Her blessings for the transformation which becomes easy when one offers his prana, his vital part at the altar of the Mother… the human creature in me feels constantly, and frequently is aware of Her grip, of Her conscious guidance, of Her transmuting Love in silence.
Grace from Her flows like Light from the Sun. Why should I not ask Her and tell Her what I wanted?… When I can pray to God for the removal of moral imperfections, why should I not pray for the removal of certain troubles etc.? Of course, I must take whatever answer comes, the very spirit of prayer or surrender is ‘Thy Will be done’. But I am not here praying to an Impersonal Divine who is everywhere impartially supporting all and sundry, good and evil. Nor am I praying to the Personal Divine who is the God of Justice. I appeal to One to whose influence I am open (through Faith) and who embodies Love and Grace and therefore response generally comes.
The way is long and tedious; but since one does not walk alone in this Yoga, since one learns, in his own time, to feel the Presence, the accompanying light of the Mother’s Grace on the path, no anxiety or fear of failure is possible. What is wanted is strength. She alone can give it, and that She certainly does, as we grow, or She Herself hastens up our growth.
To me this life is not new; but the new line is thoroughly new. I was proceeding along the path of knowledge; but here I find it is a feeble light of a still higher and all-encompassing way of the Mother. Of course it is the path of LOVE. But it is not of the traditional kind. It is quite the reverse of the traditional conception of Bhakti Marga.
Formerly the element of devotion was there in my sadhana. But the LOVE I speak of is different…. It will be right to say that this Love is not even human emotion that strains and stretches towards the Divine. It is an independent universal power of the Divine Mother which seeks and seeks for embodiment on Earth
Sweet in the heart streams the Speech Mira, Mother Mira! Ever may the crown carry Her footstool on High!
In joy have I bowed to Mother with body, word and heart, I adore and adore Mira, Mother of three worlds, transcendent Supreme.
To me the Mother is a Flame of White Light.
The whole body must be made up of the ‘heart’ and become the heart itself, then alone She can fill the body with Her Presence constantly; every atom, every cell of the body is intended to become Her Abode.
Sri Aurobindo’s instructions to Shri Kapali Sastry dated 09th July 1923
Faith in the Supramental Truth,
Faith in yourself in your capacity to achieve,
Faith in me (the Guru whose special help you would receive)
The very first postulate is faith in the existence of that which you seek for. Unless you have the conviction that is not shaken by any movements of doubt or denial, you cannot walk long on the Path You may set out on the assurance of someone else or on some impulse but the very first obstruction brings in doubt and weakens the will to proceed. There must be a deep faith not based on extraneous reasons. Faith that depends upon reasoning or proofs is no faith at all it is a conclusion. Faith, Sri Aurobindo puts it, is the soul’s witness to something not yet glimpsed by the physical sense. It is based on the perception of the soul and grows as one proceeds. At first it may be located in one enlightened part, the heart or the pure reaches of the mind, but as one develops, it extends itself and becomes so to say the whole man. So, there must first be this faith, the faith that there is a Truth beyond the mind, a Divine Truth stationed in and as the World of Mahas above this triple world in Ignorance — the Truth Supramental, faith also that this Truth can be realised and made effective in yourself.
Faith in the existence of the Truth is not enough. You must have faith in yourself, in your readiness and capacity to reach to it and receive it in yourself. You must have confidence in your ability to brave all the countering elements and stick to the pursuit. You must also be sure that you have the strength of will and power in you to fulfil the demands of the Path and respond to the needs of the situation from moment to moment. A strong faith in your capacity is itself a sign that the strength is there, not fully expressed perhaps, but in potentiality waiting to be developed and brought out.
But the highest human capacity is not enough to realise the Divine Truth, especially the supramental formulation of it which is new for the human seeking on earth. It needs the help and guidance of one who has already established contact with it in himself. It is he, the guide, the Guru, who communicates to you something of his power, śakti, and leads you on the path through the link so established, that is more important than yourself in the sadhana. You must have faith in him, in the Guru. The faith is the channel through which you reach him without any special effort and his presence becomes active in you. No doubt the Guru is benevolent to all who come to him or who look up to him. His Grace flows to all, helping them to fulfil their aspirations in whatever field. But for one whom he accepts as his disciple and allows to follow his footsteps the Guru’s help is active in an individual way suited to his needs, it is a special concentration for a special end, unlike the general Grace which is open to all like the rays of the Sun.
This is the threefold faith which is indispensable at the outset. Equipped with this faith you enter the Path, take up the discipline, the sadhana, to realise the Truth in view. But no sadhana can be pursued effectively and with palpable results unless its immediate objectives are clearly defined, so that the effort may be channelled in those directions and progress measured in their terms:
Peace, Power and Light are the threefold aim of Sadhana
The first object of sadhana should be to rise above the normal conditions of restlessness in the being, movements of thought-activity and vital impulsions which hold you their prisoner, and to attain to a certain aloofness and calm. Calm is a condition in which the consciousness is at rest, free from disturbance, whatever be the movements on the surface. This calm can indeed be attained by the rigorous method of the traditional yoga of Patanjali — an incessant suppression of all thought- movements. But the method Sri Aurobindo gives is simpler and more natural. Here it is:
There is a Silence behind every movement. Be open to it. Instead of attempting to get hold of the Silence, be open to it and let it get hold of you.
Keep to the Quiet and with the strong faith in you, you will surely get over the risks from the Astral in your progress towards the Supramental.
The Grace of the Guru, the protection of the Yoga-Shakti are there and they act unfailingly in the Quiet which should be a normal poise of your consciousness. The inner faith comes readily to the surface when you hold to this Quiet and are not lost in the passions of the moment. Not to fear is the first step. The next is:
Watch carefully the movements and forces and forms, meet them as forms or forces of the One Supreme Being above in the Supramental.
Not to be afraid is a negative step; the positive one is to face all whom you encounter as emanations from the One Divine whom you are seeking; and, indeed, it is so. For all forces, all forms are ultimately derived from the Divine; they are That essentially whatever may have been the deviation in the course of manifestation. Before a concentrated gaze which goes to the essential truth of their existence, these forces and forms are not able to stand for long.
The Yoga-Shakti does not work in one part of the being alone, say the heart, or the mind only. It may start that way but as soon as it comes into its own and the ādhāra is sufficiently open to its placings, the whole of the being is taken up and the work proceeds simultaneously on all fronts. Now more stress here, now less there, but all the while the pressure is constant. In this Yoga the sadhana does not proceed from centre to centre as in the Yoga of the Tantra, but all over at the same time. Different parts take the lead at different stages under the pressure of the Yoga Force.
The Supramental works through the body the Prana, the Psyche the mind, as the necessity of your system may require. Keep the gains separately. This is the key. This is the key to this Yoga.
Thus the mind, the prana, the psychic part, the very body are the fields for the operation of the Sadhana Shakti. Whichever is more ready is taken up as a starting point. But as the sadhana proceeds, all the parts share in the progress, each one develops. But this is not a haphazard movement. You are expected to follow the developments in each part, organise the gains in each for its further growth and of course relate it to others. Care should be taken to see that what obtains on one level of the being, in one part, is not mixed up with things on another. Thus for instance, dreams, a dream on the vital plane has different meaning from a dream on the mental. A psychic dream has an altogether different significance and value. Again, each part of the being receives and formulates the Higher Consciousness in its own characteristic way. The Divine Consciousness expresses itself as Knowledge in the mind, as Love in the Psychic, as Power in the vital, аs Beauty, Rhythm in the physical. Each part is to be built up into a perfect mould of the particular formulation of the manifesting Divine. In the analogy of the Four Bowls fashioned out of one bowl by the Tvashtri of the Veda, you have to endeavour to perfect each main part of your being into a separate personality, a body as it were, the mental, the psychic, the vital, the physical — all fusing together to form one Harmony of the perfected being natural to you. Natural to you, because each one has his special type of perfection to build and manifest. The stress in each nature is different and the perfection of each nature is correspondingly various.
The Mother’s Instructions to Shri Kapali Sastry on different occasions
When we accept, we put something concrete, call it an emanation if you like. That guides and does the Sadhana.
Here is the essence of the relation between the Guru and the disciple. This is not a relation of the type that obtains between a teacher and his student, between a superior and a subordinate, but something sui generis. Even when the Rishi of the Veda speaks of the disciple as being reborn in the womb of the Acharya as a son, much still remains to be told. For in truth the Guru is much more to the disciple than a father is to the son. As the Tantras put it, the father gives physical birth into the world of Ignorance, but the Guru gives a spiritual birth of deliverance in the realm of Light.
Once the Guru accepts someone as his disciple, he puts something of himself in him. This is not a mere metaphor or a way of saying that he extends his influence over him. It is a concrete relation that is established. A part of him, a special formulation of his consciousness and being, an emanation, goes forth and stations itself m the being of the disciple. Thenceforth, it is this projection of the Guru that leads and guides the disciple even without the necessity of physical attention and verbal guidance of the Guru. In fact it is this power of the presence of the Guru that does the sadhana. The disciple has only to allow it to function. He has to ‘keep the temple clean’, make himself pliant to its workings and offer to it a constant support of faith, devotion and loyalty. He owes it to the Guru not to allow any movement in himself that might touch the Guru adversely.
For this relation has its bearings not only on the disciple but on the Guru also. In accepting the disciple as his own and taking up the burden of his seeking, the Guru takes upon himself the Karma of the disciple. Every movement in the life of the disciple has its own repercussions in the Consciousness of the Guru with which he is connected through the link purposefully forged by the Guru. The disciple lives in the subtle extended being of the Guru and naturally all that he does has its inevitable effect on the latter. The good that the disciple does, the higher aspirations and Godward movements that he builds up, go to nourish and upbouy the being of the Guru even as his opposite movements tend to act in a negative way. Similarly, every new development, every reinforcement from on High in the Consciousness of the Guru has its immediate effect for the upliftment of the disciple.
The Guru is always present in the disciple. His emanation, once it is lodged there, continues whatever the failings of the disciple in human eyes. As long as he has a fundamental faith in the Guru — whatever may be the temporary aberrations or deviations due to weaknesses of nature — the sānnidhya of the Guru is there unaffected. It is only if one turns traitor or loses faith and wilfully walks away from the Guru, that this emanation withdraws and the relation ceases.
The thought-movement covers, when the aspiration grows, the covering will go. The Heart opens.
Sadhana in this yoga does not proceed through mental deliberation, vicāra. It is a Shakti whose origin is beyond the highest summits of the human mind, the Yoga śakti that is released into operation in the ādhāra by the will of the Guru, that works on the consciousness, prepares it, purifies it, enlarges it and effects the change gradually from the human state to a state that is increasingly divine. Man is a mental being and it is natural that he tries to follow these movements in the sadhana in a mental way. He applies his reasonings and interprets the workings of the Shakti in line with the samskāras of his mind. He anticipates developments in the way of his limited mind and when the actual workings do not fit into his conceptual mould, he is bewildered, or his thought activity interferes with the natural movement of the Yogaśakti and forms a sort of covering over it. This has to go. One has to recognise the limitations of the mind, perceive the interference of its habitual thought-activity and silence it. It is to be confined to its rightful role of discrimination and stopped from poaching into a field which is beyond its legitimate scope. This is done by the exercise of will, by aspiration for a higher light and deeper consciousness to replace the mental. As the aspiration grows, as the intensity of the seeking gains strength, the activity of the thought mind thins. Instead of the mind, it is the Heart that comes into action. The Heart is the centre in the depths of which is situated the psychic being, the inner soul of man and when this centre is opened, the psychic influence begins to operate, the mental coverings dissolve and the sadhana gathers a new momentum.
The light must enter into all the corners.
The aim of this Yoga is to lift up the being of man out of its normal formula of body life mind in Ignorance and transform it into a divine being in terms of Knowledge, Power and Ananda. This involves a radical and thorough transmutation of every part from the highest to the lowest layers of the being. A general illumination in the mind, a certain universalisation of consciousness in the heart, a purification of the life-energies, are not enough. Every corner and level of each part of the being must be brought into the focus and treated to the charge of the Light and the Force of the Divine Consciousness active for the purpose. Many are the stratagems of the falsehood and the ego in human nature to hold to their fiefs. An uncompromising earnestness and sincerity alone can discover these veiling movements and expose everу corner to the transforming Light.
You will receive help from me.
The Mother’s Help is comprehensive. It makes no distinction between the spiritual and the mundane, the higher and the lower, but goes forth to meet and remedy the situation whatever it is. To Her all life is a manifestation of the Divine, and every sphere of it is entitled to divine attention. Her sole criterion is what is good for the soul, good for the development of the person in evolution, and not what he fancies to be his good or need. Her assurance of Help means a release from Her Consciousness of a Force missioned for the purpose, and it is ever present with the person, ever awake and ever active even without his conscious awareness. The Mother’s Help does not simply meet the situations as they arise, solve the difficulties as they come up, but it is a conscious Agent which foresees forestalls and fore-arranges the sequence of events.
An interview by a correspondent regarding Sri Aurobindo and His Ashram post 1950
So I pursued him and asked: “With the passing of Sri Aurobindo what will be the future of the Ashram, of the sadhana…”
I was checked before I could complete the sentence. “Passing, passing,” said Sri Sastriar twitching his brow. “Who passed away and where? Not certainly Sri Aurobindo. The Master оf Integral Yoga is here, as intensely and as concretely as ever. May be, he is not in the body in which he was. This is not said in the conventional jargon that the spirit abides even when the body perishes. Many spirits may be alive like that.
“But when I say that Sri Aurobindo is here, I mean it in as concrete and as contactable a sense as possible. Yes, those that have been looking up to him for guidance and aid in yoga have not felt him gone, have not found themselves orphaned, have not felt a void, though, of course, the physical pangs of separation are there. So why speak of the passing of Sri Aurobindo and riddle your minds with questions and doubts about the future of the Ashram and of the sadhana initiated by the Master. The Ashram will go on as before and so also the sadhana and those that have surrendered themselves to its pursuit wholeheartedly and without reserve.”
“But,” I interposed, “Sri Aurobindo the unseen might provide the guidance and the aid needed in the sadhana. Who can physically fill his place, providing the physical touch and the dynamis for the direction of affairs? The Mother was till now the Chief Executive of the Ashram. Can she provide that inspiration which Sri Aurobindo provided till now and command that amount of loyalty and devotion that he did?”
Sri Sastriar sat still and in silence for a long while. Then he said: “A fundamental mistake is committed by most people, who try to evaluate the position of the Mother. They start by thinking and saying that the Mother is different and far removed from the Master.
“The Master and the Mother are not different and separate. The Mother is a part of Sri Aurobindo’s being. She is the manifested, dynamic part of his soul. And any one who has totally dedicated himself to the sadhana of Sri Aurobindo would have known that it is the Mother who has been acting not only as the executive head of the Ashram but also as the unfailing and ever-watchful guide, drawing all the power and light from Sri Aurobindo and passing them on to hundreds of sadhaks in hundreds of ways, all according to each one’s needs. That the help that is being provided by her is adequate and growing with the growing needs of the sadhaks is a matter of openly avowable experience.”
“Did Sri Aurobindo,” I cut in, “recognise her as such and tell you that she was a part of his being and that she was working out his mission according to his pattern? Do you know it yourself?”
“Yes,” he said with a glow in his eyes and an emphasis in his words. “I know it and Sri Aurobindo indicated to me who and what the Mother is.
“Way back in 1927, when I had known and met Sri Aurobindo but had not known much about the Mother and when I had occasion to write to him about her, he had a manuscript copy of the Four Powers of the Mother sent to me which was later on incorporated in the book, The Mother, and provided me with a glimpse into the powers and personality of the Mother. I had an instant and spontaneous faith in his words and that faith was increasingly verified by experience.
“From that time I have known and seen and felt the many-facetted personality of the Mother in action. It is impossible to know Sri Aurobindo without knowing the Mother. It is impossible to get the grace and guidance of the Master without a fervid devotion to the Mother. Sri Aurobindo has not gone anywhere. He is more intensely and concretely present in the Mother. So why these doubts regarding the future of the Ashram and of the sadhana?”
On his first meeting with Sri Aurobindo
The age is past when matters of this kind had to be kept to oneself and concealed from others for fear of scoffings from rationalists and skeptics.
Man has come to realize that there are more things on earth and in heaven than are written in books and discovered in laboratories. Well, as soon I saw him, even from a distance, there was set in motion, all of a sudden, a rapid vibratory movement in my body from head to foot. There was a continuous thrill and throb. I seemed to stand on the top of a dynamo working at top speed and it was as powerful as it was new. It lasted for nearly four to five minutes. It did not really stop at all. In fact it continued ever since for long and every time I went to see him later, or for his Darshan after his retirement, the phenomenon tended to repeat itself.
A spiritual personality continually pours out spiritual emanations from within and it would seem that when any one with some secret affinity or even a point of contact somewhere in the being comes within the ambience of these vibrations, there is an attempt by something subtle in us to imbibe as much of these sustaining and strength-giving radiations as possible. But the physique not being so supple cannot support this occult commerce for long; it lacks the necessary nerve-force to keep up the flow and the physical palpitating movement is the result. Of course, I find this explanation now. All that I knew at that time and could not help knowing was that I was in the presence of an unusually mighty personality. Was it the sun-flower turned to the sun, or was it the filings in a tremulous dance before a block of magnet or was he the mystic spider, ever watchful, taking his prey alive to preserve it within his web biding his hour?
Something had been set going which carried me on its wings – this is more than a figure of speech – shuttling me from and back to him with an irresistible intensity till at last I came back to him six years later (1923) in a different role. This time, as a seeker seeking the feet of the Teacher, and exclaimed marveling at the change of his appearance:
“What other proof is required, Sire! Then your complexion was dark-brown, now it is fair; today the hue is a golden hue. Here is the concrete proof of the Yoga that is yours.”