Rituals and Festivals (8) A New Conception and Form of Worship

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given this new dharma for the coming Age of mankind. They have liberated man from all outer trappings and fixed formulas within which the spirit of the age was getting stifled. Perhaps the cage was needed when the soul of man was still growing its wings. Perhaps some or many still may need it. But for those in whom the wings have grown the soul needs all infinity as its home. It must then step out of the prison houses in which we had aged the Gods or so we believed it to be along with the soul. The mature soul must step out of these trappings of the spirit built by the human mind and soar into and breath infinity, dwell in eternity. However since the body too must participate in the evolutionary movement, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother do not discard the outer form but ennoble it, raise and uplift it to sublime spiritual heights, put within it a new breath by awakening its soul without which the outer form is a mere shell.

This is the new dharma of the Age that is dawning upon man. What better way than to see what Sri Aurobindo has to say about the worship of the Four greatest Cosmic Powers that are at the very peak in the hierarchy of the worlds of mind, life and body and stand right at the borders of the Supramental Truth.  We can see how with this new and greater Consciousness is replacing the old traditional approach with the new one.  Sri Aurobindo and the Mother used the traditions as well as transcended them. They left each one free to choose according to his or her deeper need and stage of evolution. Together all these approaches combine to form our total engagement with the Divine, a complete and absolute consecration wherein our body, mind and life parts all participate in a constant aspiration and prayer and our entire life becomes a ceaseless worship of the Divine in the matter.

Let us see what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have to say about these aspects.

When asked about receiving a mantra He replied:

The idea of your friend that it is necessary to receive a mantra from here and for that he must come is altogether wrong. There is no mantra given in this Yoga. It is the opening of the consciousness to the Mother from within that is the true initiation and that can only come by aspiration and rejection of restlessness in the mind and vital….

We do not usually give any mantra. Those who repeat something in meditation call on the Mother….

As a rule the only mantra used in this sadhana is that of the Mother or of my name and the Mother. The concentration in the heart and the concentration in the head can both be used —each has its own result. The first opens up the psychic being and brings bhakti, love and union with the Mother, her presence within the heart and the action of her Force in the nature. The other opens the mind to self-realisation, to the consciousness of what is above mind, to the ascent of the consciousness out of the body and the descent of the higher consciousness into the body.”  

[CWSA 35: 825-826]

Similarly, we see Sri Aurobindo and the Mother revealing the intrinsic meaning of their symbol which is very much like a yantra except that it has to be lived and reproduced within our lives.

The descending triangle represents Sat-Chit-Ananda. The ascending triangle represents the aspiring answer from matter under the form of life, light and love. The junction of both—the central square—is the perfect manifestation having at its centre the Avatar of the Supreme—the lotus. The water—inside the square—represents the multiplicity, the creation.

[CWM 13: 28]

        

The central circle represents the Divine Consciousness. The four petals represent the four powers of the Mother. The twelve petals represent the twelve powers of the Mother manifested for Her work.

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The central circle represents the Supreme Mother, the Mahashakti. The four central petals are the four aspects of the Mother —and the twelve petals, Her twelve attributes. [CWM 13: 63-64]

*

It is the symbolic design of the white Lotus of Supreme Consciousness, with the Mahashakti (the form of the Mother as universal creation) at the centre in her four aspects and twelve attributes.

These twelve attributes are:

Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance
Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage
Goodness, Generosity, Equanimity, Peace

The first eight concern the attitude towards the Divine, and the last four towards humanity.  [The Mother’s Agenda, January 19, 1972]

In other words, when we place Her at the centre of our being dethroning the ego-self; when we have developed the attitudes demanded of us by the Four great aspects of the Mother as we note below; when we consciously cultivate the twelve psychological qualities within us then we have turned our very body and mind, the adhara into a perfect yantra for Her to manifest and express through the perfected human symbol.

Since man needs a representative image She has put something of Herself in Her photographs, literally meaning that instead of any priest invoking the Presence, She has Herself done the prana pratistha making the photograph itself into something living and real through which one can enter into contact with Her. A photograph is not just a piece of paper for remembrance. It is itself a hub of forces that the persona emanates from oneself and when it is done consciously then it can carry something of those forces that the person represents. Its other side is that one should be careful keeping and mixing all kinds of photographs of different people and even spiritual beings which may not necessarily go well together as a combined influence. A photograph is an influence and they may pull us in occult ways and in different directions. The modern mind is blind to these occult truths which a seeker on the path to Perfection can ill afford to ignore.

When asked about Her photos, she revealed:

[Disciple]: Sweet Mother, when we concentrate on one of your photos— there are many photos, each one with a different expression—does it make a difference for us, the one on which we concentrate?

If you do it purposely, yes, of course. If you choose this photo for a particular reason or that other one for another reason, surely. It has an effect. It is as though you were choosing to concentrate on one aspect of the Mother rather than another; for example, if you choose to concentrate on Mahakali or Mahalakshmi or on Maheshwari, the results will be different. That part of you which answers to these qualities will awaken and become receptive. So, it is the same thing. But somebody who has only one photo, whichever it may be, and concentrates, without choosing this one or that, because he has only one, then it is of no importance which one it is. For the fact of concentrating on the photograph puts one in contact with the Force, and that is what is necessary in the case of everyone who responds automatically.

It is only when the person who concentrates puts a special will, with a special relation, into his concentration that it has an effect. Otherwise the relation is more general, and it is always the expression of the need or the aspiration of the person who concentrates. If he is absolutely neutral, if he does not choose, does not aspire for any particular thing, if he comes like this, like a white page and absolutely neutral, then it is the forces and aspects he needs which will answer to the concentration and perhaps even the person himself will not know what particular things he needs, because very few people are conscious of themselves. They live in a vague feeling, they have a vague aspiration and it is almost unseizable; it is not something organised, coordinated and willed, with a clear vision, for example, of the difficulties one wants to overcome or the capacities one wants to acquire; this, usually, is already the result of a fairly advanced discipline. One must have reflected much, observed much, studied much in order to be able to know exactly what he needs. Otherwise it is something hazy, this impression: one tries to catch it and it escapes… Isn’t that so?”

[CWM 7: 271-272]

Let us close with these magnificent lines from Savitri that reveal us the greatness and glory of the Divine Mother who escapes every formula and in which we try to bind Her. They reveal to us the ultimate essence of worship which is an absolute and total trust and surrender to the Divine knowing that whatever we may understand, whatever way we may try to define and limit, He will always remain Beyond all our perceptions and conceptions, Eternal and Infinite.

But thought nor word can seize eternal Truth:
The whole world lives in a lonely ray of her sun.
In our thinking’s close and narrow lamp-lit house
The vanity of our shut mortal mind
Dreams that the chains of thought have made her ours;
But only we play with our own brilliant bonds;
Tying her down, it is ourselves we tie.
In our hypnosis by one luminous point
We see not what small figure of her we hold;
We feel not her inspiring boundlessness,
We share not her immortal liberty.
Thus is it even with the seer and sage;
For still the human limits the divine:
Out of our thoughts we must leap up to sight,
Breathe her divine illimitable air,
Her simple vast supremacy confess,
Dare to surrender to her absolute.
Then the Unmanifest reflects his form
In the still mind as in a living glass;
The timeless Ray descends into our hearts
And we are rapt into eternity.
For Truth is wider, greater than her forms.
A thousand icons they have made of her
And find her in the idols they adore;
But she remains herself and infinite.
[Savitri: 276]

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