When the third eye is awakened in a Yogi, he/she is able to visualize the subtle face of a person which offers precise indications on the character of that particular individual. It is the soul that builds the face. To the awakened Master, certain physical features can be singular indicators of our past incarnations. The examples here illustrate how Sri Aurobindo, the Mother Mirra Alfassa and Ramakrishna Paramahansa could determine the physiognomy of individuals.
A word of caution while reading these passages: The unenlightened man should not use these physical descriptions as a code to evaluate other human beings because in the absence of subtle vision, one cannot categorically determine which particular feature takes priority for a specific individual. External beauty need not correspond to the maturity of the inner soul.
Interpreting the universe by soul signs
He read from within the text of the without:
The riddle grew plain and lost its catch obscure.
A larger lustre lit the mighty page.
(Sri Aurobindo. Savitri, Book I, Canto V)
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother evaluating photographs
Purani (a disciple) speaks: A photo was taken and shown to Sri Aurobindo. It made a favourable impression and he found that the psychic being could open-though he found (on reading the photograph) that there was hardly any development of the mental being and the physical being was too weak for this Yoga. He saw him seven days later and told him that he could not give this Yoga. to him : “This is a very difficult Yoga and it makes no less demands on the Sadhaka (practitioner) than the old methods. Everything is to be given up to the Power that is above the Mind. This Yoga accepts life but that does not mean that it accepts the ignorance of life”. (1)
Mother Mirra Alfassa: My means of knowing people now is also like that. But for a long time now, when I see a photograph, for instance, it hasn’t been going through thought at all; there are neither deductions nor intuitions: the photograph causes a vibration somewhere. And funny things happen, too; the other day, they gave me the photograph of a person, so I have a very clear perception: from the place that is touched, from the vibration that responds, I know that this man is used to handling ideas and that he has the self-assurance of someone who teaches. I ask (just to see), “What does this man do?” They tell me, “He is a businessman.” I said, “Well, he isn’t made to be a businessman, he doesn’t know the first thing about business!” And three minutes after, they tell me, “Oh, excuse me, I am sorry, I made a mistake, he is a teacher”! (Mother laughs) That’s how it is. (2)
(These are various selections from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna where Sri Ramakrishna comments on the signs he observed with his subtle vision.)
Sri Ramakrishna: It depends on physical traits. A dwarfish stature and dents here and there on the body are bad signs. Such a person takes a long time to attain jnana (enlightenment) (3)
Sri Ramakrishna: “Maybe so. But he doesn’t have a high spiritual ideal. His physical signs aren’t so good. He has a puggish face. These other youngsters are of a different class.
When this state of divine intoxication came to me the first time in Dakshineswar, a brahmin lady belonging to a respectable family came. She had very good signs. As soon as a garland was put around her neck and incense burnt before her, she went into samadhi.
At first Narendra called them [Ramakrishna’s visions] hallucinations of the mind. Now, he accepts everything. (4)
Sri Ramakrishna: When I was leaving my bed, I saw a certain person’s face and thought that Rakhal was coming! (All laugh.) Oh, yes! You must notice all these physical signs.(5)
A certain Mallick went to Jadu’s house. I could see from his eyes how clever and deceitful he was. Looking him straight in the eye, I said to him, “It’s not good to be too clever. The crow is a very clever bird, but it eats excreta of others and dies.” I also saw that he was wretched and not well off. Speechless with wonder, Jadu’s mother asked me, “Baba (father), how did you know all this, that he had nothing?” “I knew it by looking at his face.” (6)
His egotism is getting crushed. After a while, Thakur Sri Ramakrishna looks at him kindly and speaks affectionately, ”See, you have some good signs. I can know it by looking at one’s eyes and forehead.” (7)
He felt sad when he came to know that M. was married and had children. But he also told him that there were very good (yogi like) signs on his forehead and eyes (8)
Sri Ramakrishna strokes Narendra‘s face and hands and says, “All these are the signs of a devotee. The features of a man of knowledge are different: his face and body are dry.” (9)
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahimacharan and others)—I once went with Sejo Babu to meet Devendra Tagore (father of Rabindranath Tagore). I said to Sejo Babu, “I have heard that Devendra Tagore meditates on God. I wish to see him.” […]
To see Devendra’s trait I said to him, “Well, let me examine your body.” Devendra took off his shirt. He was fair and his body (roughed) as if sprinkled with vermilion.
“Initially I noticed that there was some pride in him. And why not? He had so much wealth, so much learning, name and fame. Seeing his pride I said to Sejo Babu, “Well, does pride come from jnana(knowledge) or ajnana(ignorance)? Does a person who has attained the knowledge of Brahman has the pride of learning, of jnana or wealth?”
“Suddenly I went into that very state while talking to Devendra. When I am in that particular state, I can see what kind of person one is. A peculiar laughter, ‘Hee-hee’ arose within me on seeing him. When I am in such a state, I feel that the learned are just like pieces of straw—when I see that there is no discrimination and dispassion in a pundit, he appears to me just as dry pieces of grass and straw (unworthy person). I then see as though a vulture is flying high but its eyes are on charnel pits.
I saw that he had both yoga and bhoga(passion). He had many small children; the doctor had arrived. It is for this reason that though a man of knowledge, he had to lead the life of a householder. I said, “You are the ‘King Janaka‘ of Kaliyuga. Janak was loyal to both Matter and Spirit and at the same time drank his cup of milk. You are living with your family keeping your mind on God. I heard about it, so I have come to see you. Please talk to me about God.”
Then he narrated some portions from the Vedas. He said, “This world is like a chandelier and every being is a lamp in it.” When I was meditating here in Panchavati I had seen exactly the same. Seeing that it resembles with Devendra’s words, I thought he was really a great man. I asked him to explain further what he had said. Then he said, “Who knew this world? God made men to proclaim His glory. If there is no light in the chandelier, it is all dark around. You cannot even see the chandelier.” (10)
- The spiritual aptitude (adhikara) needed for Yoga
- Developing one’s own spiritual atmosphere (Gita 3:17)
- The rationale behind vegetarianism
- Spirituality : between morality and immorality
- Why are artists irregular in their conduct?
- Explaining the Ascent-Descent in Integral Yoga
- The spiritual aptitude (adhikara) needed for Yoga
- Distinguishing between stilling the mind and dynamizing meditation
- Developing discernment on which actions are spiritual
- Equanimity as the foundation of Integral Yoga.
- A. B. Purani, Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, first series, p 68
- Mother’s Agenda, March 24, 1965
- Gospel, Vol 2, Sec XXIV, Chapter 1
- Gospel, Vol 4 Section XXIII, Chapter 4
- Gospel, Vol 3, Section III, Chapter 1
- Gospel, Vol 2, Section 19, Chapter 2
- Gospel, Vol 1, Section 1, Chapter 1
- Gospel, Preface
- Gospel, Vol 4, Section XXXII, Chapter 4
- Gospel, Vol 1, Sec 12, Chapter 1