Saturday, November 28, 2009

Barin Ghose, Dilip Kumar Roy, and Anna Bogenholm Sloane

But the Integral Yoga is not easy and the obdurate mule of our human nature kicks back at us when we press upon it the necessary change. Only the real heroes survive, only those who can surrender themselves to a higher Power and anchor themselves in the Divine. Most of us compromise on the Yoga, for we realise that even if we fail (if at all there is something called failure), we cannot go back. There are of course many who go back to the ordinary life, but those who have reached a point of no return will prefer to dilute the Yoga than start life again, say at the age of fifty. It is then that we have to plough our way through the twilight zone and often through bleak patches of moonless nights until we see hope in the glimmerings of a distant dawn. A few make it, but only after a long grind and after the hair has sufficiently greyed with failures and disappointments. That is why I find some of the older members of our Ashram the happiest lot.

Some don’t make it! Doubts creep in questioning first their fitness for the Yoga, then questioning the Yoga itself. That is why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have so often advised us not to play with Doubt, even though it might seem fashionable to do so. When years of sadhana seem infructuous and the hidden spiritual ambition gets frustrated, the sadhak revolts against his Gurus and either goes away to live the ordinary life or sets up his own Ashram. The list of such cases in the Ashram is not short, even if you leave out the recent ones. Among the most prominent ones in the past are Barin Ghose (Sri Aurobindo’s own brother), the famous singer Dilip Kumar Roy and many others, including Westerners such as Anna Bogenholm Sloane.[1] 24 November 2009 The Metamorphosis of a Sadhak-Scholar -- by Raman Reddy from A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs by Raman Reddy

That being the case, no single interpretation in Auroville, if it realizes the spiritual society that it aims to be, should be louder than the rest; in other words, a single creed in not acceptable. This is a constant struggle for Auroville, just like everywhere else. [...] I am particularly interested in the notion of Truth, how the pioneers viewed it at the beginning of Auroville before the Mother passed away and how the AV youth views Truth. I am limiting the pioneers that I interview to those that came before the Mother passed, and the only factor that I am currently using to determine "youth" is that he or she was born here. My line of thought is this:

Spiritual movements have happened throughout history, but time and again these movements are codified into creeds rather than remaining inner, subjective truths (as the spiritual leaders seems to encourage). So long as the leader is living (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, etc), the followers are content to be told the truth, but at the moment that this trusted leader is gone, the followers seem to comfort themselves with a dogma. A dogma is a strong tradition, so strong that it is considered to be undoubtedly true. But to maintain this single Truth often leads to a tyrannical rule, stamping out any controversy rather than a willingness to show respect or lend a listening ear.

Auroville is experiencing this transition now, as the pioneers reminisce on the easy days, when one could simply write to the Mother and learn how far she strayed from the Truth. And now, Aurovilians have to decide what is true on their own, and they way that they go about this is crucial to whether or not they stay true to their intentions. Truth as subjectivity is certainly not a new idea, but it hasn't prevailed so far. Nonetheless, it remains a hope of people all over the world, whether they show that commitment by devoting themselves to Auroville, or they contribute to the conversation in Western Academics today, with ideas such as a "return to religion (without religion)."

I hope that the transition that Auroville has been experiencing over the last 36 years (since the Mother left her body) can shed some light on this human effort that is made over and over again, despite the seeming lack of progress. Thanksgiving, Fulbright Style Friday, 27 November 2009 by cjd002 Carissa Devine '09 is a graduate from LVC in Religion and Philosophy


  1. The picture Reddy paints gives an impression that Integral Yoga is Ashram bound and hence leaving it tantamounts to failure. Mercifully, his thesis is not wholly true.

    Devine, on other hand, links dogma with tyranny and that presupposition eliminates the merits of unity and a common faith. [TNM]

  2. I don't think that is Raman Reddy's intention. He is not at all suggesting that the Ashram is sole space for Integral Yoga. He is simply stating the difficulties of this path especially when we are unwilling to surrender or have trust in the leading. This is a common problem of those whose physical mind is very active and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have refered to this several times. The examples culled out may be in the Ashram contexty because there they appear glaring, thats all.

    Besides it is one thing to be outside and do the yoga without direct reference to the Ashram and quite another to join the Ashram and leave it unable to bear the pressure to change. So the thesis is still largely true for those who have chosen to practice the Yoga as part of the Ashram.

  3. The lack of progress in the yoga described by Raman Reddy is an unfortunate but predictable situation. What else would you expect when the Auroville elites refuse even to consider two thirds of the yogic formula given forth as an aid to securing the Integral Realization. Having rejected the contributions of the Cosmic and Individual members of the Supramental Line, they are left with only the Transcendent realization and virtually no way to achieve it. Simply put, they have locked themselves out of the house of the Cosmic Spirit and have thrown away the KEYS to the Kingdom. Perhaps they should re-consider what Sri Aurobindo wrote about this path of yoga:

    “…The distinction between the Transcendental, the Cosmic, the Individual Divine is not my invention, nor is it native to India or to Asia -- it is, on the contrary, a recognised European teaching current in the esoteric tradition of the Catholic Church where it is the authorised explanation of the Trinity, -- Father, Son and Holy Ghost… In the practice of yoga there is a great dynamic difference in one's way of dealing with these three possible realisations. If I realise only the Divine as that, not my personal self, which yet moves secretly all my personal being and which I can bring forward out of the veil, or if I build up the image of that Godhead in my members, it is a realisation but a limited one. If it is the Cosmic Godhead that I realise, losing in it all personal self, that is a very wide realisation, but I become a mere channel of the universal Power and there is no personal or divinely individual consummation for me. If I shoot up to the transcendental realisation only, I lose both myself and the world in the transcendental Absolute. If, on the other hand, my aim is none of these things by itself, but to realise and also to manifest the Divine in the world, bringing down for the purpose a yet unmanifested Power, -- such as the supermind, -- A HARMONISATION OF ALL THREE BECOMES IMPERATIVE. I have to bring it down, and from where shall I bring it down -- since it is not yet manifested in the cosmic formula -- if not from the unmanifest Transcendence, which I must reach and realise? I have to bring it into the cosmic formula and, if so, I must realise the cosmic Divine and become conscious of the cosmic self and the cosmic forces. BUT I HAVE TO EMBODY IT HERE, -- OTHERWISE IT IS LEFT AS AN INFLUENCE ONLY AND NOT A THING FIXED IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD, AND IT IS THROUGH THE DIVINE IN THE INDIVIDUAL ALONE THAT THIS CAN BE DONE.” Sri Aurobindo, -- Letters on Yoga, SABCL Vol. 22/24, p. 509-10

    Indeed, the Individual SOUL is the KEY to the Integral Realization. It must be sought out FIRST and established as the proper foundation before any ascension into vertical dimensions can begin. As Sri Aurobindo explains:

    “FIRST, there must be a conversion inwards, a going within to find the inmost psychic being (Soul) and bring it out to the front, disclosing at the same time the inner mind, inner vital, inner physical parts of the nature. Next, there must be an ascension, a series of conversions upwards and a turning down to convert the lower parts.” Sri Aurobindo - Letters on Yoga, December 2, 1946, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, India, 1946, Planes and Parts of the Being. p. 251

    But how is this ‘conversion inwards’ to the Psychic Being or Soul to be achieved? What kind of yogic process would take us on this inner spiral, this centripetal movement into a ‘center that holds’? Is there perhaps a cosmological formula given out by the Vedic Rishis that might give us access to these hidden dimensions within? Yes of course, says Sri Aurobindo…

    See: for my complete reply