Next I will discuss some of the specific points raised in your letter. I do not want to say much here about what you write as regards your yoga. It will be more convenient to do so when we meet. But there is one thing you write, that you admit no physical connection with men, that you look upon the body as a corpse. And yet your mind wants to live the worldly life. Does this condition still persist? To look upon the body as a corpse is a sign of asceticism, the path of nirvana. The worldly life does not go along with this idea. There must be delight in everything, in the body as much as in the spirit. The body is made of consciousness, the body is a form of God. I see God in everything in the world. Sarvam idaṁ brahma, vāsudevaḥ sarvamiti (“All this here is the Brahman”, “Vasudeva, the Divine, is all”) — this vision brings the universal delight. Concrete waves of this bliss flow even through the body. In this condition, filled with spiritual feeling, one can live the worldly life, get married or do anything else. In every activity one finds a blissful self-expression of the divine. I have for a long time been transforming on the mental level all the objects and experiences of the mind and senses into delight. Now they are all taking the form of supramental delight. In this condition there is the perfect vision and experience of Sachchidananda — the divine Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.
Next, in reference to the divine community, you write, “I am not a god, only some much-hammered and tempered steel.” I have already spoken about the real meaning of the divine community. No one is a god, but each man has a god within him. To manifest him is the aim of the divine life. That everyone can do. I admit that certain individuals have greater or lesser capacities. I do not, however, accept as accurate your description of yourself. But whatever the capacity, if once God places his finger upon the man and his spirit awakes, greater or lesser and all the rest make little difference. The difficulties may be more, it may take more time, what is manifested may not be the same — but even this is not certain. The god within takes no account of all these difficulties and deficiencies; he forces his way out. Were there few defects in my mind and heart and life and body? Few difficulties? Did it not take time? Did God hammer at me sparingly — day after day, moment after moment? Whether I have become a god or something else I do not know. But I have become or am becoming something — whatever God desired. This is sufficient. And it is the same with everybody; not by our own strength but by God’s strength is this yoga done.
It is good that you have taken charge of Narayan. The magazine began well, but later it drew a narrow sectarian line around itself, fostered feelings of faction and began to rot. At first Nolini wrote for Narayan, but later he was obliged to turn elsewhere, because it gave no scope to free opinion. There must be the free air of an open room, otherwise how can there be any power of life? Free light and free air are the primary nourishment of the life-force. At present it is not possible for me to contribute anything. Later I may be able to give something, but Prabartak also has its claim on me. It may at first be a little difficult to satisfy calls from both directions. We shall see when I begin to write in Bengali again. At the moment I am short of time; it is not possible for me to write for anything except the Arya. Each month I alone have to provide 64 pages; it is no small task. And then there is poetry to write; the practice of yoga takes time; time is also needed for rest. Most of “On Society”, which Saurin has with him, has probably appeared in Prabartak. The rest of what he has must be a draft; the final revision has not been done. Let me have a look at it first. We shall see then whether it can be published in Narayan.
You write about Prabartak that people cannot understand it, it is misty, a riddle. I have been hearing the same complaint all along. I admit that there is not much clear-cut thinking in Motilal’s writing; he writes too densely. But he has inspiration, force, power. In the beginning Nolini and Moni wrote for Prabartak and even then people called it a riddle. But Nolini’s thinking is clear-cut, Moni’s writing direct and powerful. There is the same complaint about the Arya; people can’t understand it. Who wants to give so much thought and consideration to his reading? But in spite of this, Prabartak was doing a lot of work in Bengal, and at that time people did not have the idea that I was writing for it. If now it does not have the same effect, the reason is that now people are rushing towards activity and excitement. On one side there is the flood of devotion, on the other side the effort to make money. But during the tenyear period that Bengal was lifeless and inert, Prabartak was its only fountain of strength. It has helped a lot in changing the mood of Bengal. I do not think its work is over yet.
In this connection let me tell you briefly one or two things I have been observing for a long time. It is my belief that the main cause of India’s weakness is not subjection, nor poverty, nor a lack of spirituality or religion, but a diminution of the power of thought, the spread of ignorance in the birthplace of knowledge. Everywhere I see an inability or unwillingness to think — incapacity of thought or “thought-phobia”. This may have been all right in the mediaeval period, but now this attitude is the sign of a great decline. The mediaeval period was a night, the day of victory for the man of ignorance; in the modern world it is the time of victory for the man of knowledge. He who can delve into and learn the truth about the world by thinking more, searching more, labouring more, gains more power. Take a look at Europe. You will see two things: a wide limitless sea of thought and the play of a huge and rapid, yet disciplined force. The whole power of Europe is here. It is by virtue of this power that she has been able to swallow the world, like our tapaswis of old, whose might held even the gods of the universe in terror, suspense, subjection. People say that Europe is rushing into the jaws of destruction. I do not think so. All these revolutions, all these upsettings are the first stages of a new creation. Now take a look at India. A few solitary giants aside, everywhere there is your simple man, that is, your average man, one who will not think, cannot think, has not an ounce of strength, just a momentary excitement. India wants the easy thought, the simple word; Europe wants the deep thought, the deep word. In Europe even ordinary labourers think, want to know everything. They are not satisfied to know things halfway, but want to delve deeply into them. The difference lies here. But there is a fatal limitation to the power and thought of Europe. When she enters the field of spirituality, her thought-power stops working. There Europe sees everything as a riddle, nebulous metaphysics, yogic hallucination — “It rubs its eyes as in smoke and can see nothing clearly.” But now in Europe not a little effort is being made to surmount even this limitation. Thanks to our forefathers, we have the spiritual sense, and whoever has this sense has within his reach such knowledge, such power, as with one breath could blow all the immense strength of Europe away like a blade of grass. But power is needed to get this power. We, however, are not worshippers of power; we are worshippers of the easy way. But one cannot obtain power by the easy way. Our forefathers swam in a vast sea of thought and gained a vast knowledge; they established a vast civilisation. But as they went forward on their path they were overcome by exhaustion and weariness. The force of their thought decreased, and along with it decreased the force of their creative power. Our civilisation has become a stagnant backwater, our religion a bigotry of externals, our spirituality a faint glimmer of light or a momentary wave of intoxication. So long as this state of things lasts, any permanent resurgence of India is impossible.
It is in Bengal that this weakness has gone to the extreme. The Bengali has quickness of intellect, a capacity for feeling, intuition. In all these qualities he is the foremost in India. Each of these qualities is necessary, but they are not in themselves sufficient. If there were added to them depth of thought, manly force, heroic audacity, proficiency and delight in prolonged labour, the Bengali would become the leader not only of India, but of the world. But the Bengali does not want this; he wants to pick up things the easy way — knowledge without thought, results without labour, spiritual perfection after an easy discipline. He relies on emotional excitement, but excessive emotion devoid of knowledge is the very symptom of the disease. What has the Bengali been doing from the time of Chaitanya onwards, from long before that, in fact? Catching hold of some easy superficial aspect of spiritual truth and dancing about for a few days on waves of emotion; afterwards there is exhaustion, inertia. And at home, the gradual decline of Bengal, the ebbing away of her life-force. In the end, what has the Bengali come to in his own province? He has nothing to eat and no clothes to wear, there is wailing on every side. His wealth, his business and trade, even his agriculture begin to pass slowly into the hands of outsiders. We have abandoned the yoga of divine power and so the divine power has abandoned us. We practise the yoga of love, but where there is no knowledge or power, love does not stay. Narrowness and littleness come in. In a narrow and small mind, life and heart, love finds no room. Where is there love in Bengal? Nowhere else even in this division-ridden India is there so much quarrelling, strained relations, jealousy, hatred and factionalism as in Bengal.
In the noble heroic age of the Aryan people there was not so much shouting and gesticulation, but the endeavour they set in motion lasted many centuries. The Bengali’s endeavour lasts for a day or two. You say what is needed is emotional excitement, to fill the country with enthusiasm. We did all that in the political field during the Swadeshi period; everything we did has fallen in the dust. Will there be a more auspicious outcome in the spiritual field? I don’t say there has been no result. There has been; every movement produces some result. But it is mostly in an increase of possibilities. This is not the right way to steadily actualise the thing. Therefore I do not wish to make emotional excitement, feeling and mental enthusiasm the base any longer. I want to make a vast and strong equality the foundation of my yoga; in all the activities of the being, which will be based on that equality, I want a complete, firm and unshakable power; over that ocean of power I want the radiation of the sun of Knowledge and in that luminous vastness an established ecstasy of infinite love and bliss and oneness. I do not want tens of thousands of disciples. It will be enough if I can get as instruments of God one hundred complete men free from petty egoism. I have no confidence in guruhood of the usual type. I do not want to be a guru. What I want is for someone, awakened by my touch or by that of another, to manifest from within his sleeping divinity and to realise the divine life. Such men will uplift this country.
Do not think from reading this lecture that I despair of the future of Bengal. I too hope for what they are saying — that this time a great light will manifest in Bengal. But I have tried to show the other side of the shield, where the defects, failings and deficiencies lie. If these remain, that light will not be great, nor will it endure. The saints and great men you have written about appear to me rather dubious. Somehow I do not find in them what I am looking for. Dayananda has all sorts of wonderful powers. Illiterate disciples of his do remarkable automatic writing. All right, but this is only a psychic faculty. What I want to know about is the real thing in them and how far it has progressed. Then there is another — he stirs a person to his depths just by touching him. Very well, but what does that thrill lead to? Does the person become by this touch the kind of man who can stand like a pillar of the new age, the divine Golden Age? This is the question. I see you have your doubts about this. I have mine too.
I laughed when I read the prophecies of those saints and holymen — but not a laugh of scorn or disbelief. I do not know about the distant future. The light God sometimes gives me falls one step ahead of me; I move forward in that light. But I wonder what these people need me for. Where is my place in their great assembly? I am afraid they would be disappointed to see me. And as for me, would I not be a fish out of the water? I am not an ascetic, not a saint, not a holyman — not even a religious man. I have no religion, no code of conduct, no morality. Deeply engrossed in the worldly life, I enjoy luxury, eat meat, drink wine, use obscene language, do whatever I please — a Tantrik of the left-hand path. Among all these great men and incarnations of God am I a great man or an incarnation? If they saw me they might think I was the incarnation of the Iron Age, or of the titanic and demoniac form of the goddess Kali — what the Christians call the Antichrist. I see a misconception about me has been spread. If people get disappointed, it is not my fault. The meaning of this extraordinarily long letter is that I too am tying up my bundle. But I believe this bundle is like the net of Saint Peter, teeming with the catch of the Infinite. I am not going to open the bundle just now. If it is opened too soon, the catch may escape. Nor am I going back to Bengal just now — not because Bengal is not ready, but because I am not ready. If the unripe goes amid the unripe, what can he accomplish?
P.S. Nolini writes that you are coming not at the end of April, but in May. Upen also wrote about coming. What about that? Is he staying with you or elsewhere? Mukundilal has sent me a letter to be redirected to Sarojini. But I don’t know where Sarojini is, so I am sending it to you. Please forward it.
I have received a letter from Motilal. I gather from it and from some other circumstances that the shadow of a misunderstanding has fallen between him and Saurin. This may develop into mutual dislike. It is most improper that such a thing should happen among ourselves. I shall write to Motilal about this. Tell Saurin to be careful not to give the least occasion for the opening of such a breach or rift. Somebody told Motilal that Saurin has been telling people (or giving them the impression) that Aurobindo Ghose has nothing to do with Prabartak. Saurin certainly never said anything like this, for Prabartak is our paper. Whether I write for it in my own hand or not, God through me is giving the force that enables Motilal to write. From the spiritual point of view, the writing is mine; Motilal just adds the colour of his mind. Probably what Saurin said is that Aurobindo Ghose himself does not write Prabartak’s articles. But it is not necessary to say even that. It may create a wrong impression just opposite the truth in people’s minds. I have to some extent kept it a secret who writes or does not write for Prabartak. Prabartak (“The Initiated”) itself writes Prabartak. The Power itself is the writer; it is not the creation of any particular individual. This is the truth of the matter. Devajanma and other publications with articles by Nolini and Moni have come out in book form and there too no names have been given. It is the same principle. Let it be like that until further order.
- A yogi of eastern Bengal, alive when this letter was written. Not to be confused with Swami Dayananda of the Arya Samaj.
- Elder brother.
- Upendranath Bannerjee. Like Barin, he was sentenced to transportation for life for his part in the Alipur Bomb Conspiracy. In 1919 or 1920 both were granted amnesty.
- Sri Aurobindo’s sister.
- A cousin of Sri Aurobindo’s wife; he was staying with Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, but at the time of this letter was in Bengal.
- A collection of essays.