A disciple, Dilip Kumar Roy, wrote a letter in 1924 to Sri Aurobindo asking certain questions regarding marriage. The answer depends on many factors, as Sri Aurobindo indicates in the following text. He outlines the three kinds of bonds which usually form in a marital union: (a) vital or physical, (b) psychic and (c) spiritual. His insights must be read with the understanding that no cut and dried answers can be given to such intricate questions.
Bonds of union between man and woman are generally of three kinds. The first is the vital and the physical bond. This is very common and ninety nine out of every hundred marriages result in this type of union. This is the only possible bond among men and women of ordinary type and there is absolutely nothing wrong in it. In fact it is neither right nor wrong, but is rather necessary for them for gaining experience in their progress of life. It is also there for fulfilling a great purpose of Nature, that is, reproduction or the continuity of the race. You ask why sexual impulse is so strong in man making him almost a helpless tool in its hand. Because, as Sri Aurobindo has said, it is there placed by Nature for fulfilling her most primary and primitive purpose, that of reproduction, and it is strong in order to compel man to do it in spite of himself. For ordinary men it is the only principle and in fact the sole impulse, however man may try to cover it with his emotional and aesthetic ideas and ideals.
(Note on terminology: by vital and physical bond, Sri Aurobindo implies a marriage which thrives on the general enjoyment of life – La Dolce Vita – having sex, traveling to exotic places, eating good food, socializing, making money and so on.)
The second type of union between man and woman is the psychic bond. Those who are extraordinary in type, of rare refinement and culture and have a call for a greater ideal in life than the average man and woman, as for instance, for art, music, poetry, patriotism, they should seek their life companion not from sexual desires but from a higher outlook so that their union may result in this type of pure and psychic bond. In such a case of an extra-ordinary man a psychic woman alone can be his real partner of life. She alone can help him to fulfil himself and add to his power and Ananda. A wrong choice for him spells a set-back, and even ruin. A vital and physical union with a lower type of woman may blunt his aspirations and even wreck his life according as the woman is. This psychic union is very rare in the world and is so difficult to find — especially as your seeking for a partner is always coloured by your clamouring of desires and lower impulses. On the other hand, when found, your life is extremely happy and both of you grow in power and purity and may even develop the highest type of bond — the spiritual out of this psychic one. Because psychic union is so rare and a real companion of life is so hard to find for a man of higher ideal, they generally remain single. Some of them find their mate late in life like Mustafa Kamal. Some are fortunate like Browning and are very happy all their life.
(Mustafa Kamal: These observations by Sri Aurobindo were recorded in 1924 at a time when Mustafa Kamal Ataturk was married to Latife Uşaklıgil. They were divorced a year later in 1925, after being married for 2-1/2 years.)
K.D: What about Napoleon and Josephine? Isn’t that relation psychic ? .
SRI AUROBINDO: Not entirely; it is half and half. Something in Josephine’s luck helped Napolean. Josephine had a better chance of being an Empress than Napolean had of being an Emperor. It was by marrying her he made his chance secure.
The spiritual bond is the third and the highest and is for him who feels the true call for spiritual life and has to find his Shakti or complementary soul who will be at once his partner and guide in his sadhana(askesis). If you have spiritual life as an ideal in view, you must not seek either an ordinary woman or a mere psychic one but a woman of that spiritual type who is also psychic and something more. This spiritual bond between man and woman is still more difficult to find and only one per cent of the marriages in the world, if at all, result in such a union. When found, a spiritual companion doubles your life and power and increases your speed of progress tenfold. It is really the Purusha and Prakriti fulfilling themselves in their world and raising themselves to the Divine plane by their united power. A wrong choice in the type of one who seeks spiritual greatness is worse than in the psychic bond, the fall is swifter and the result may be fatal. Where there is spiritual union, the psychic is sure to be, but where there is psychic, the higher may not be; only in some cases the higher can be evolved out of it. But out of the lowest the highest cannot certainly come and even the psychic is hardly possible.
What Ramakrishna Paramahansa (the 19th century Bengali mystic) had in his mind Sri Aurobindo cannot say, but he thinks Ramakrishna dreaded marriage from the point of view of the ascetic life. If one’s ideal is to renounce the world he has to avoid woman, she being like wealth and ambition, one of the great forces in Nature which drag down man’s consciousness to the lower planes of vital and physical desires. Ramakrishna’s insistence on renouncing woman was from a moral and ascetic standpoint. You can very well see that Sri Aurobindo does not tell you anything from this ascetic or moral point of view, but because of the above facts.
These are general truths relating to union of man and woman. In your own case everything depends on your ideal. If it is to be the ordinary life of vital and physical enjoyments you can choose your mate just wherever you like.
If it is a nobler ideal of art or music or patriotism, the seeking for a companion of life must not primarily be from the sexual desire but from something higher and the woman must have something in her in tune with the psychic part of your being. If on the other hand, your ideal is spiritual life you must think fifty times before you marry: Sri Aurobindo has already told you how rare a fit mate is for such a spiritual union. You are here given the general principles only. From its complexity you can easily imagine how difficult it will be for Sri Aurobindo to give you any clear-cut answer. With these data before you you must decide for yourself.
K.D: How can one know when he meets his psychic mate?
SRI AUROBINDO: How do you know a spiritual experience? How do you know when you have the right leader? It is all a matter of feeling and inner perception. It is an art and not a science. When she walks into your life you will know her right enough. As I have told you again and again, no rigid and hard and fast rule is possible in things like this. Union with woman is right in one case and perhaps wrong in other 99 cases. In that one case again without his Shakti (i.e. feminine counterpart) the man’s progress will be very slow and he may even go wrong. In the other 99 cases contact with woman itself may prove an obstacle. There are so many hostile powers working against the right union of complementary souls that very often, you can seldom meet your right mate. Of course I am talking of the path and not of the goal. When you reach the highest you will have to see whether you can get your Shakti. Without a Shakti you can yourself be perfect, in the sense that you can attain full knowledge, power and Ananda and change your entire organised being into its divine nature, but when you want to throw your powers on the world for creation, it is different. Take my instance. It may so happen that I reach the highest all alone, my Shakti falling in the way. Then I cannot create without her. I can by my highest siddhi only prepare the way for others to follow and accomplish the rest in the future. It is not only the dark forces who obstruct and make it impossible for the twin souls to meet, but even when they actually meet their life may get wrecked owing to mental and vital impediments. It is only when the psychic or the spiritual part is predominant in both, the two can really fulfil one another and progress higher and higher. The hostile powers working against the siddhi of yogis are difficult to conquer. Ordinarily we are in complete darkness or ignorance with only flashes of knowledge now and then, even when the sadhaka has risen into a continual glow of knowledge and can discern the play of all the dark forces, he is not exempt from attack. Only when he reaches full illumination and is in serene and revealed knowledge he is beyond them and safe.
(Champaklal. Champaklal Treasures, pp 224-226)
In the last passage above, Sri Aurobindo stated, “Take my instance. It may so happen that I reach the highest all alone, my Shakti falling in the way. Then I cannot create without her.” He is alluding to the Mother Mirra Alfassa, who was his Shakti or twin soul. It was she who organized the Ashram and served as the Guru to all the disciples. See an earlier article Twin souls.
- Twin souls
- The foundation of spiritual relationships
- Four stages in human love
- Anandamayi Ma as the Guru
- Some disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
- The transmutation of sexual energy
- Sublimation of the sexual urge through Yoga
- Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Astrology
- The Aurobindonian model of Karma
- Why are artists irregular in their conduct?
- True family and True country