The 10th day of the Durga Festival is celebrated in India as the day of Victory. As always and with most such ancient institutions, the whole thing is reduced to mere external celebrations, an excuse for eating good food and dressing up well. Much worse still, as Sri Aurobindo points out in one of His remarkable passages, people adhere to a belief system and make it an excuse to do things that are even diametrically opposed to the original intent that gave birth to a movement. This is true not only of religious but also of ideological institutions that are secular in character. They suffer at the hands of their followers even more than their detractors. People join an institution and believe that mere joining is enough. The great occasion of Durga’s Victory has also undergone the same distortion, where barring a few sincere devotees, most turn it into a blind festivity. Yet the seed of truth is there, however obscured and time to time it shows up. The victory is as much or even much more inner as it is outer. In the Ashram context this day used to be a special Pranam day when the devotees filed past to offer their pranams to the Divine Mother. Implicit in this practice was that the Divine Mother’s victorious power that Durga represents automatically came as a subtle power and presence and filled the heart and mind and body of those who were receptive. When the Divine Mother withdrew upstairs to Her present Room a chair was arranged on these special occasions (Puja days) to hold and concretise Her subtle Presence and this continues till date. Therefore, on this occasion we contemplate on the real sense of the victory as revealed through the words of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Words of the Mother
A power greater than that of Evil can alone win the victory.
It is not a crucified but a glorified body that will save the world.
The Mother’s New Year Message for 1957
* * *
… I was asked another question:
“If a world-war breaks out, it may not only destroy the major portion of humanity but may even make living conditions for those who survive impossible due to the effects of the nuclear fall-out. In case the possibility of such a war is still there, will it not affect the advent of the Supramental Truth and of the New Race upon earth?”
Here is the answer [in English]:
“All these are mental speculations and once you enter the domain of mental imaginations there is no end to the problems and to their solutions. But all that does not bring you one step closer to the truth.
The safest and most healthy attitude of the mind is like this one: we have been told in a positive and definite way that the supramental creation will follow the present one, so, whatever is in preparation for the future must be the circumstances needed for the advent whatever they are. And as we are unable to foresee correctly what these circumstances are, it is better to keep silent about them.”
June 17, 1957
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All these repetitions of the mantra, these hours of japa I have to do every day, seem to have increased the difficulties, as if they were raising up or aggravating all the resistances.
To the most stubborn goes the victory.
When I started my japa one year ago, I had to struggle with every possible difficulty, every contradiction, prejudice and opposition that fills the air. And even when this poor body began walking back and forth for japa, it used to knock against things, it would start breathing all wrong, coughing; it was attacked from all sides until the day I caught the Enemy and said,’ Listen carefully. You can do whatever you want, but I’m going right to the end and nothing will stop me, even if I have to repeat this mantra ten crore’ times.’ The result was really miraculous, like a cloud of bats flying up into the light all at once. From that moment on, things started going better.
You have no idea what an irresistible effect a well-determined will can have. Some difficulties remained, of course, but they stemmed more from what had to change within.
Actually, difficulties come from very small things; they may seem quite commonplace, totally uninteresting, but they block the way. They come for no earthly reason – some detail, a word that comes rubbing against a sensitive spot, an illness in someone close to me, anything at all, and suddenly something in me contracts. Then all the work has to be started afresh as though nothing had been done.
Of all forms of ego, you might think that the physical ego is the most difficult to conquer (or rather, the body ego, because the work was already done long ago on the physical ego). It might be thought that the form of the body is a point of concentration, and that without this concentration or hardness, physical life would not be possible. But that’s not true. The body is really a wonderful instrument; it’s capable of widening and of becoming vast in such a way that everything, everything – the slightest gesture, the least little task – is done in a wonderful harmony and with a remarkable plasticity. Then all of a sudden, for something quite stupid, a draft, a mere nothing, it forgets – it shrinks back into itself, it gets afraid of disappearing, afraid of not being. And everything has to be started again from scratch. So in the yoga of matter you start realizing how much endurance is needed. I calculated it would take 200 years to say ten crore of my japa. Well, I’m ready to struggle 200 years if necessary, but the work will be done.
Sri Aurobindo had made it clear to me when I was still in France that this yoga in matter is the most difficult of all. For the other yogas, the paths have been well laid, you know where to tread, how to proceed, what to do in such-and-such a case. But for the yoga of matter, nothing has ever been done, never, so at each moment everything has to be invented.
Of course, things are now going better, especially since Sri Aurobindo became established in the subtle physical, an almost material subtle physical. But there are still plenty of question marks … The body understands once, and then it forgets. The Enemy’s opposition is nothing, for I can see clearly that it comes from outside and that it’s hostile, so I do what’s necessary. But where the difficulty lies is in all the small things of daily material life – suddenly the body no longer understands, it forgets.
Yet it’s HAPPY. It loves doing the work, it lives only for that – to change, to transform itself is its reason for being. And it’s such a docile instrument, so full of good will! Once it even started wailing like a baby: ‘O Lord, give me the time, the time to be transformed …’ It has such a simple fervor for the work, but it needs time – time, that’s it. It wants to live only to conquer, to win the Lord’s Victory.
January 28, 1960
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I see in a very clear way that even in circumstances in which you seem to have made a mistake, even with things that betrayed a hope and give you proof that what you expected wasn’t legitimate, even in such a case, there isn’t one circumstance, not one encounter, not one event that isn’t EXACTLY what’s necessary to lead you to the victory as rapidly as possible.
This, to me, is an absolute thing.
I have noted that whenever something occurred and I said to myself (at the time), “Oh, I shouldn’t have done this – I should have done that” or “I shouldn’t have felt this way – I should have felt that way … ,” afterwards, when I looked at it carefully with the higher knowledge and higher consciousness, I saw that it was EXACTLY what I should have done under the circumstances! But instead of doing it knowingly and consciously, I did it in the usual ignorant way of human beings. And if I had had Knowledge, I would have done exactly the same thing….
This to me is an absolute thing, there isn’t a shadow of doubt – not a shadow of doubt.
August 29, 1964
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Above all, one should be trusting.
The big difficulty, in Matter, is that the material consciousness, that is to say, the mind in Matter, was formed under the pressure of difficulties – difficulties, obstacles, suffering, struggle. It was, so to speak, “worked out” by those things, and that gave it an imprint almost of pessimism and defeatism, which is certainly the greatest obstacle.
This is the thing I am conscious of in my own work.
The most material consciousness, the most material mind, is in the habit of having to be whipped into acting, into making effort and moving forward, otherwise it’s tames. So then, if it imagines, it always imagines the difficulty – always the obstacle, always the opposition, always the difficulty … and that slows down the movement terribly. So it needs very concrete, very tangible and VERY REPEATED experiences to be convinced that behind all its difficulties, there is a Grace; behind all its failures, there is the Victory; behind all its pain and suffering and contradictions, there is Ananda. Of all the efforts, this is the one that has to be repeated most often: you are constantly forced to stop, put an end to, drive away, convert a pessimism, a doubt or a totally defeatist imagination.
I am speaking exclusively of the material consciousness.
Naturally, when something comes from above, it goes vrrm! like that, so everything falls silent and waits and stops. But … I well understand why the Truth, the Truth-Consciousness, doesn’t express itself more constantly: it’s because the difference between its Power and the power of Matter is so great that the power of Matter is as if canceled – but then, that doesn’t mean Transformation: it means a crushing. It doesn’t mean a transformation. That’s what used to be done in the past: they would crush the entire material consciousness under the weight of a Power that nothing can fight, nothing can oppose; and then they would feel, “Here we are! It’s happened!” It hadn’t happened at all! Because the rest down below remained as it was, unchanged.
Now, there is a will to give it the full possibility of changing; well, for that, it has to be given free play, without bringing in a crushing Power – this I understand very well. But it has the obstinacy of stupidity. How many times at the moment of a suffering, for instance, when a suffering is there, acute, and you feel it’s going to become intolerable, there is in the cells a little inner movement of Call: the cells send out their S.O.S. Everything stops, the suffering disappears. And often (now it’s becoming more and more like that), the suffering is replaced by a feeling of blissful well-being. But the first reaction of that stupid material consciousness, its first reaction: “Ha! Let’s see how long it’s going to last.” So, naturally, with that movement, it demolishes everything. Everything has to be started again.
I think that for the effect to be lasting (not to be, as I said, a miraculous effect that comes, dazzles, and goes away), for it to be truly the effect of a TRANSFORMATION, one has to be very, very, VERY patient. We are dealing with a very slow, very heavy, very obstinate consciousness, which cannot move on rapidly, which holds on tight to what it has, to what has seemed to it to be a “truth”: even if it is a very small truth, that consciousness holds on tight to it and doesn’t want to budge anymore. So to cure that takes a great deal of patience – a great, great deal of patience.
The whole thing is to endure – endure and endure.
Sri Aurobindo said it several times, in various forms: Endure and you will conquer…. Bear – bear and you will vanquish.
The triumph belongs to the most enduring.
October 7, 1964
* * *
We must endure. The victory belongs to the most enduring.
There are times when one is disgusted, and that’s just when one should remember this. Now, your disgust may have reasons of its own (!) But you have only to endure. You know, there is one thing, I don’t know if you have savored it yet: as soon as you have a difficulty, dissatisfaction, revolt, disgust – anything – fatigue, tension, discomfort, all, all that negative side (there are lots and lots and lots of such things, they take on all kinds of different colors), the immediate movement – immediate – of calling the Lord and saying, “It’s up to You.” As long as you try (instinctively you try to arrange things with your best light, your best consciousness, your best knowledge …), it’s stupid, because that prolongs the struggle, and ultimately it’s not very effective. There is only one effective thing, that’s to step back from what’s still called “me” and … with or without words, it doesn’t matter, but above all with the flame of aspiration, this (gesture to the heart), and something perfectly, perfectly sincere: “Lord, it’s You; and only You can do it, You alone can do it, I can’t….” It’s excellent, you can’t imagine how excellent! For instance, someone comes and deluges you with impossible problems, wants you to make instant decisions; you have to write, you have to answer, you have to say – all of it – and it’s like truckloads of darkness and stupidity and wrong movements and all that being dumped on you; and it’s dumped and dumped and dumped – you are almost stoned to death with all that. You begin to stiffen, you get tense; then, immediately (gesture of stepping back): “O Lord….” You stay quiet, take a little step back (gesture of offering): “It’s up to you.”
But you can’t imagine, it’s wonderful! Immediately there comes – clear, simple, effortlessly, without seeking for it – exactly what has to be done or said or written: the whole tension stops, it’s over. And then, if you need paper, the paper is there; if you need a fountain pen, you find just the one you need; if you need … (there’s no seeking: above all don’t seek, don’t try to seek, you’ll just make another mess) – it’s there. And that’s a fact of EVERY MINUTE. You have the field of experience every second. For instance, you’re dealing with a servant who doesn’t do things properly or as you think they should be done, or you’re dealing with a stomach that doesn’t work the way you’d like it to and it hurts: it’s the same method, there is no other. You know, at times … situations get so tense that you feel as if you’re about to faint, the body can’t stand it any more, it’s so tense; or else there’s a pain, something wrong, things aren’t sorting themselves out, and there’s a tension; so immediately you stop everything: “Lord, You, it’s up to You….” At first there comes a peace, as if you were entirely outside existence, and then it’s gone – the pain goes, the dizziness disappears. And what is to happen happens automatically. And, you see, it’s not in meditation, not in actions of terrestrial importance: it’s the field of experience you have ALL the time, without interruption – when you know how to put it to use. And for everything: when something hurts, for instance, when things resist or grate or howl inside there, instead of your saying, “Oh, how it hurts! …” you call the Lord in there: “Come in here,” and then you stay calm, not thinking of anything – you simply stay still in your sensation. And more than a thousand times, you know, I was almost bewildered: “Look! The pain is gone!” You didn’t even notice how it went. So people who want to lead a special life or have a special organization to have experiences, that’s quite silly – the greatest possible diversity of experiences is at your disposal every minute, every minute. Only you must learn not to have a mental ambition for “great” things. Just the other day, I was shown in such a clear way a very small thing I had done (“I,” it’s the body speaking), a very small things that had been done by the Lord in this body (that’s a long sentence!), and I was shown the terrestrial consequence of that very small thing – it was visible, I mean, as my hand is visible to my eyes – and the terrestrial correspondence. Then I understood.
We are given everything – EVERYTHING. All the difficulties that have to be overcome, all of them (and the more capable we are, that is, the more complex the instrument is, the more numerous the difficulties are), all the difficulties, all the opportunities to overcome them, all the possible experiences, and limited in time and space so they can be innumerable. And it has repercussions and consequences all over the earth (I am not concerned with what goes on in the universe because, for the time being, that isn’t my work). But it is certain (because it has been said so and I know it) that what goes on on the earth has repercussions throughout the universe. Sitting there, you live the everyday life with its usual insignificance, its unimportance, its lack of interest … and it’s a WONDERFUL field of experiences, of innumerable experiences, not only innumerable but as varied as can be, from the most subtle to the most material, without leaving your body. Only, you should have RETURNED to it. You cannot have authority over your body without having left it.
Once the body is no longer you at all, once it is something that has been added and TACKED onto you, once it is that way and you look at it from above (a psychological “above”), then you can come down into it again as its all-powerful master.
You must come out of it first, then come down again.
There you are.
And one should also look at all those difficulties, all those bad habits (like, for you, that habit of revolt: it’s something that seems to have been kneaded into the cells of your body), one should look at all that with the smile of someone who says, “I am not that. Oh, this was put on me! … Oh, that was added….” And you know, it was added … because it’s one of the victories you must win.
I’ve witnessed the most complete panorama of all the idiotic things in this life, they were shown to me as in a complete panorama: passing from one to another, seeing each of them separately and how they combined with each other. And then: Why? Why should one choose this? (A child’s question, which one asks immediately.) And immediately, the answer: “But the more” (let’s say “central” to be clearer) “the more central the origin and the more pure in its essence, the greater the ‘ignoble complexity below,’ as we could call it. Because the lower down you go, the more it takes an essential light to change things.”
Once you’ve been told this very nicely, you’re satisfied, you stop worrying – it’s all right, you take things as they are: “That’s how things are, it’s my work and I do it; I ask only one thing, it is to do my work, all the rest doesn’t matter.”
November 20, 1963
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It was clear, very clear today, a sort of Pressure to say: Victory is Harmony; Victory is the Divine; and for the body, Victory is good health. Any, any discomfort, any disease is a falsehood. It came this morning. It was very CLEAR. It was convincing, you know.
So it’s all right.
It’s as if, through the Pressure, all the Falsehood had been brought out (gesture surging up from below). The most unexpected things. In people, things, circumstances. It’s really…. No imagination can equal it. It’s incredible.
But it’s a good sign, isn’t it?
Oh, yes! Oh, yes!… Only, the appearances in the Ashram are very … (Mother nods her head), it’s as if there were a poison, you know, and by putting pressure, the poison comes out to be got rid of – and how it’s coming out!
Later we’ll be able to talk about it. But it’s really interesting, really. Yes, it’s a good sign, a very good sign.
Yes, it means that all those forces that have remained hidden underneath for thousands of year …
… have lost their hiding place.
Yes, that’s it. That’s it …. (Mother closes her eyes and smiles.)
September 29, 1971
* * *
(This is the season of “pujas,” the time of rituals to the Universal Mother.)
Do you want some silence?
Yes, Mother, if you like…. I’m tempted to ask you if Durga won a victory this year?
We shouldn’t talk about it. I think it was a real victory….
Which victory? But there is only one, my child.
Which is THE Victory … we can call it what we like: the Victory of Truth over Falsehood, the Victory of the Lord over his creation.
Which means the creation will now go consciously towards the Divine?
Eh, Mother? No? Not yet? … Not quite yet?
Well, that Victory is still only for a few.
The creation consciously going towards its divine Origin and ready to manifest that Origin is still only for a few. I think it will take centuries until it becomes general – oh, centuries, maybe millenniums!
But what matters is for us to be the few who are conscious, who consciously … (silence, Mother opens her hands) … manifest the Divine. That is our victory, for a few of us, which we can and must win and embody – by “win,” I mean overcome the material resistance in the body (Mother pinches the skin of her arm). That we can and it is our duty to overcome – I mean all the stupid unconscious resistance. That must come to an end. This is our work, and it must be done here (pointing to the body).
You say it will take centuries or even millenniums. But, for instance, would it not go faster by contagion? No?
We’ll see, mon petit! Let’s first do what we should do. Let’s concentrate on that.
Let’s do what we should do.
October 18, 1972
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Words of Sri Aurobindo
“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
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“The extreme acuteness of your difficulties is due to the yoga having come down against the bedrock of Inconscience which is the fundamental basis of all resistance in the individual and in the world to the victory of the Spirit and the Divine Work that is leading toward that victory. The difficulties themselves are general in the Ashram as well as in the outside world. Doubt, discouragement, diminution or loss of faith, waning of the vital enthusiasm for the ideal, perplexity and a baffling of the hope for the future are the common features of the difficulty. In the world outside there are much worse symptoms such as the general increase of cynicism, a refusal to believe in anything at all, a decrease of honesty, an immense corruption, a preoccupation with food, money, comfort, pleasure, to the exclusion of higher things, and a general expectation of worse and worse things awaiting the world. All that, however acute, is a temporary phenomenon for which those who know anything about the workings of the world-energy and the workings of the Spirit were prepared. I myself foresaw that this worst would come, the darkness of night before the dawn; therefore I am not discouraged. I know what is preparing behind the darkness and can see and feel the first signs of its coming. Those who seek for the Divine have to stand firm and persist in their seeking; after a time, the darkness will fade and begin to disappear and the Light will come.”
SABCL: XXVI. 169-170, April 9, 1947