Sri Aurobindo’s Translation of Tirukkural

The Tirukkural (Sacred Verses) is a spiritual text authored by sage Thiruvalluvar, who is said to have lived somewhere between 300 BCE and 500 CE. Sri Aurobindo had translated a few of these verses into Tamil. In this article, Usha Mahadevan (DRBCC Hindu College, Chennai) analyzes Sri Aurobindo’s translation.

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Freedom from mental constructions

There is a rattling cage of thought formations which perpetually surround our brain. It’s a chaotic mixture of golden rules, calcified beliefs and fervid anxieties which we have aggregated based on our life experience. We reinforce them every day by repeatedly applying them and talking about them with others. This cluster of thoughts is what the Mother referred to as a “mental construction“.

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Five signs of a soul turned to inner wisdom

The “Essays on the Gita” is a commentary by Sri Aurobindo on the Bhagavad Gita.  There are many hidden nuggets and fresh interpretations presented by Sri Aurobindo in this commentary.   In the following passage, Sri Aurobindo elucidates on the five signs of a soul who has definitely commenced on the inner journey.  The following passage refers to Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita.

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Can reading of spiritual books become counter-productive ?

People who read too many spiritual books can go off-track. They waste their time intellectually resolving some messy conundrums. For example, Sri Aurobindo says A, Ramana Maharshi says B, Paramahansa Yogananda says C : lets intellectually figure out who is correct. The purpose of the spiritual text is to elevate the consciousness; its hidden meaning is unlocked through spiritual experiences.

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Explaining dreams where you meet a known person

Once, the mathematician Donald Newman(1930-2007) was struggling hard with a problem,  but couldn’t resolve it by any means.  He went to sleep at night and had a dream.  This was not the kind of dream which gives the solution to a problem, but a dream in which he met fellow mathematician John Nash. Newman asked Nash about the problem, and Nash told him the answer.  When Newman finally wrote the paper, he gave credit to Nash[1].  (I’m not kidding, read the story in this book or in the Scientific American ).

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Bhagavad-Gita online

The Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with the Vande Mataram library has created a website on the Bhagavad Gita.  It features audio rendition of each verse, transliteration, grammatical analysis of each Sanskrit word, a dictionary coupled with extensive cross-referencing.  To top it all, they have also included Sri Aurobindo’s commentary on the text.

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How to utilize money to grow spiritually

A blog reader asked the question – “How to make best utilize one’s savings from a spiritual point of view?  Should one take medical insurance, life insurance, invest in mutual funds.  If we engage in the stock market, it increases greed ?  In some countries, medical costs are high so medical insurance is necessary.”

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Hinduism and the caste system

Amal Kiran (born K.D. Sethna, a Parsi-Zoroastrian) was a disciple of Sri Aurobindo.  He wrote the following article in response to Dr Ambedkar’s embrace of Buddhism.   This article was approved by Sri Aurobindo and was first published in the Mother India magazine on May 27, 1950.  It is worth revisiting in light of the fact that in the popular mind, Hinduism seems to contain nothing other than the caste system, cows and idols.

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Evolution of human nature

While other religions lay down a set of commandments which must be uniformly followed by all human beings, Hinduism advises each soul to act based on his or her Swadharma(inner law).  This is a nice story by M.S. Srinivasan which illustrates this principle.  This story appeared in the recent issue of NAMAH, a journal published out of Pondicherry.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hindu Devas take a (silk) road trip to Japan!

Fascinating and well-documented article on the iconic deities of Hinduism like Ganesha, Shiva, Brahma, Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswati, Kubera, Indra and others who have been depicted in ancient Japanese literature and paintings.

Videshi Sutra

(Note: If you are only interested in pictures, skip past this and hit “Continue Reading”)

This is a historical phenomenon, which entertains and fascinates me to no end. Buddhism had a huge impact on all East Asian cultures, especially on their pantheons of deities. On first glance it might seem odd that a reform movement, which rejected many of the core tenants of Vedic religion would transmit a belief in Vedic deities. This apparent oddity is a misunderstanding of Buddhism’s “atheism,” and a misunderstanding of what a “Deva” actually is. Most forms of Buddhism, while rejecting the concept of all-powerful gods or creator deities, openly accept the existence of powerful supernatural beings. This includes yakshas (nature spirits) rakshasas (demons) gandharvas (celestial musicians) nagas (supernatural snakes) and many other beings, including Devas (deities.) In Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, Devas are created beings that roam around the universe seeking the divine, albeit…

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To Love Man (Manush Bhajan) by Nolini Kanta Gupta

This is an English translation of a Bengali article entitled “Manush Bhajan” by Nolini Kanta Gupta (1889-1984) who was a disciple of Sri Aurobindo (see bio on wikipedia).    Sri Aurobindo once remarked, “If Nolini does not understand my Yoga, who does”.  The translation of this article was done by Satadal and originally published by Maya Chattopadhyay of the “Sri Aurobindo Sthan” in Kolkata.

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Where does mathematics come from?

Is mathematics invented or discovered? Do mathematical objects pre-exist in some transcendental plane, are they abstractions of our sensory experiences, or are they just fictional objects invented by our minds? Would an alien species specify mathematical abstractions in a different way? These are the questions which are explored under the “Philosophy of mathematics”. Several competing theories such as Logicism, Intuitionism, Formalism and Platonism have been proposed to explain the nature of mathematics.   Here, I shall present some insights by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which are connected to this topic.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 200,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Anecdotes of my Guru

Over the past few years, quite a few blog readers have written to me appreciating the manner in which I have presented the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.  I would attribute much of it to my Guru whom I met early in my teenage years.  My experiences with him seemed to correspond closely with the manner in which the Sri Aurobindo and the Mother interacted with their disciples.  It is this correlation which has enabled me to provide an alternative perspective on their life and teachings.

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A book on Sri Aurobindo in Arabic

Zackaria Moursi, whose spiritual journey was covered in a an earlier blog post “How an Egyptian discovered Sri Aurobindo” has just published a bilingual book featuring quotes from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.   The book is listed on Amazon and can also be viewed on his website.

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Sri Aurobindo’s influence on Russians

Here is an interesting history of how Russians came into contact with Sri Aurobindo during the time of the Soviet Union.  This article was originally posted on the website of Varuna Energy & Water Pvt. Ltd., which is a unit based in Auroville.

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Energy but it is not my energy

These are the reminiscences of an Aurovillian named Roy who came to India in the 1970s.  The article was posted earlier on Savitri Era Devotees and Afforestation Auroville blogs.

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The Grace is at work everywhere

Have you ever lamented – if only I had an easier job, a more spacious home, sagacious parents, compatible spouse, trustworthy friends, etc., I would be able to devote more effort to living spiritually and might even progress faster.  Driven by this desire for space and ease, we disdainfully ignore the challenges before us and withdraw to a spiritual retreat where we hope to live a life more attuned with the Divine.  In these couple of passages, the Mother points out that living in an Ashram may not always be helpful because we need difficulties in order to become conscious.

At the beginning of my present earthly existence I came into contact with many people who said that they had a great inner aspiration, an urge towards something deeper and truer, but that they were tied down, subjected, slaves to that brutal necessity of earning their living, and that this weighed them down so much, took up so much of their time and energy that they could not engage in any other activity, inner or outer. I heard this very often, I saw many poor people―I don’t mean poor from the monetary point of view, but poor because they felt imprisoned in a material necessity, narrow and deadening.

I was very young at that time, and I always used to tell myself that if ever I could do it, I would try to create a little world―oh! quite a small one, but still… a small world where people would be able to live without having to be preoccupied with food and lodging and clothing and the imperative necessities of life, so as to see whether all the energies freed by this certainty of a secure material living would turn spontaneously towards the divine life and the inner realisation.

Well, towards the middle of my life―at least, what is usually the middle of a human life―the means were given to me and I could realise this, that is, create such conditions of life. And I have come to this conclusion, that it is not this necessity which hinders people from consecrating themselves to an inner realisation, but that it is a dullness, a tamas, a lack of aspiration, a miserable laxity, an I-don’t-care attitude, and that those who face even the hardest conditions of life are sometimes the ones who react most and have the intensest aspiration.

That’s all. I am waiting for the contrary to be proved to me.

I would very much like to see the contrary but I haven’t yet seen it. As there are many energies which are not utilised, since this terrible compulsion of having something to eat or a roof to sleep under or clothes on one’s back does not exist―as one is sure of all that―there is a whole mass of energies which are not utilised for that; well, they are spent in idle stupidities. And of these, the foolishness which seems to me the most disastrous is to keep one’s tongue going: chatter, chatter, chatter. I haven’t known a place where they chatter more than here, and say everything they should not say, busy themselves with things they should not be concerned with. And I know it is merely an overflow of unused energy.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1956): 30 May 1956

In another passage, she elucidates that the Grace is at work everywhere.   One can live anywhere and progress spiritually.

I have already told you this several times. When you are in a particular set of circumstances and certain events take place, these events often oppose your desire or what seems best to you, and often you happen to regret this and say to yourself, “Ah! how good it would have been if it were otherwise, if it had been like this or like that”, for little things and big things…. Then years pass by, events are unfolded; you progress, become more conscious, understand better, and when you look back, you notice―first with astonishment, then later with a smile―that those very circumstances which seemed to you quite disastrous or unfavourable, were exactly the best thing that could have happened to you to make you progress as you should have. And if you are the least bit wise you tell yourself, “Truly, the divine Grace is infinite.”

So, when this sort of thing has happened to you a number of times, you begin to understand that in spite of the blindness of man and deceptive appearances, the Grace is at work everywhere, so that at every moment it is the best possible thing that happens in the state the world is in at that moment. It is because our vision is limited or even because we are blinded by our own preferences that we cannot discern that things are like this.

But when one begins to see it, one enters upon a state of wonder which nothing can describe. For behind the appearances one perceives this Grace―infinite, wonderful, all-powerful―which knows all, organises all, arranges all, and leads us, whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, towards the supreme goal, that is, union with the Divine, the awareness of the Godhead and union with Him.

Then one lives in the Action and Presence of the Grace a life full of joy, of wonder, with the feeling of a marvellous strength, and at the same time with a trust so calm, so complete, that nothing can shake it any longer.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1956): 8 August 1956

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Xu Fancheng (徐梵澄) : a Chinese disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Xu Fancheng (Chinese: 徐梵澄) was born in Changsha, Hunan province, on 26th October 1909. As a child he studied classical Chinese. In 1929 he went to Germany to study the History of Art at Heidelberg University. He also practiced wood engraving there and became the first Chinese artist of the new style wood engraving. He came back to China in 1932, and encouraged by Luxun (one of the most famous writers of modern China), he started to translate the works of Nietzsche from German into Chinese, and became the first expert of Nietzsche’s philosophy in China.
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