Does Nature revolt against machinery?

One of the pleasures of studying dual Gurus like Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is that sometimes one can find spontaneous and fascinating coincidences in their records.  It is as if they had independently experienced the same occult phenomenon. The Mother had once remarked after Sri Aurobindo had left his body: “Nirod (a disciple) is reading me his correspondence with Sri Aurobindo. Strangely enough, there are all sorts of things that I said much, much later, I had no idea he had written them! Exactly the same things.  I found that very interesting.[1]”  In this article, we will examine some striking parallels in the observations they made fifty years apart pertaining to Nature’s reaction to machinery.

Photo: Zeppelin over Berlin. courtesy: wikimedia commons. click image for source

During his early years in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo made copious notes on his evolving spiritual powers as well as various occult phenomena which were being revealed to him.  Among these notes are certain enigmatic references to the probable causes of shipwrecks, airline accidents and rail disasters, which are presented below prefixed with the date of recording.

Three keywords employed in the subsequent passages need to be first defined:

  1. Sortilege: indicates divination which is gained by opening a book at random.  See an earlier post Guidance by random book opening for details.
  2. Trikaldrishti: indicates the occult vision of the past, present and future.
  3. Lipi: indicates etheric writing which is seen during an occult vision or dream.

Between July 1912 and Feb 1913, there are five instances where Sri Aurobindo recorded previsions regarding ship, airline and railway accidents.  This was just after the gigantic passenger steamship, the RMS Titanic, sank in April 1912 during her maiden voyage.

noted on July 2, 1912: I may note that a former sortilege occurring after the Titanic disaster and pointing to fresh disasters in the struggle of machinery with Nature, which I had supposed to be false or falsely interpreted, is today vindicated. No less than four accidents (three fatal, one extensive) in two days in aviation! It is noteworthy that I was wondering only a day or two ago at the comparative freedom of Germany from these accidents but these accidents (except one, I think) are in Germany [2].

It is well nigh impossible to recover all the news sources that Sri Aurobindo accessed in those days.   Secondly, one must account for the delays in news transmission that occurred in that era to avoid making incorrect inferences.  Nevertheless, thanks to wikipedia, google books and other historical websites, some news can indeed be reconstructed.  A few days before, on 28 June 1912, a Zeppelin airship, the LZ 10 Schwaben crashed in Germany in a gale; the subsequent fire killed about 30-40 people who were aboard[3].   The Times of India dated Jul 2, 1912 carried a story headlined “The German Airship Schwaben” which stated “This is the seventh airship which Germany has lost through accidents, the number including the six Zeppelins”[4].  On 2nd July, 1912, American adventurer Melvin Vaniman died when his airship Akron exploded off the New Jersey shore. This kind of corroborates the aviation accidents that Sri Aurobindo mentioned above.

noted on Jan 15, 1913: Again, as foreseen to be willed by the Ishwara(Lord) only recently, there have been fresh aviation accidents, more storms & wrecks and a serious railway accident all in the news of a single day; all occurred in England, but this was not foreseen. The revolt of Nature against machinery continues [5].

A list of railway accidents has been compiled on wikipedia but it is probably incomplete.  The nearest match to the railway accident Sri Aurobindo indicates could be the Ditton Junction rail crash that occurred four months prior on 17th Sept 1912 in which the driver, fireman and 13 passengers were killed[6].

noted on Jan 17, 1913: The old trikaldrishti & sortilege about the frequency of wrecks is confirmed by today’s telegram giving the number lost in 1912 as 228 (82 British) [7].

According to which claims to the world’s largest online shipwreck database, 214 ships were lost in 1912[8].  See also List of shipwrecks in 1912[9].  This closely matches the number Sri Aurobindo recorded above.

noted on Jan 30, 1913: Trikaldrishti of farther sea-accidents in the papers, of which the loss of a naval officer washed off his bridge, announced today, is a previous hint, showing the tendency still at work [10].

I am currently unable to locate the incident of a naval officer being drowned.

noted on Feb 2 1913: the loss of a boat and grounding of a ship, (lipi more shipwrecks), and the storm & railway accidents in Germany (trikaldrishti); [11].

Railway accidents statistics for England during these years are available. In 1911, there were 14 killed and 324 injured.  In 1912, the number was 20 killed and 683 injured.  The average in the years before is pretty much the same [12].  In 1913, there were 33 killed and 723 injured [13].

As for aviation accidents, the Popular Mechanics journal of that year reports an increase in aviation fatalities in 1913 but states that this was expected because of increased air activity [14].   A partial list of airship accidents can be seen on Wikipedia[15].

Accidents have occurred since time immemorial and will continue to occur.  A cursory look at various sources does not indicate any inexplicable spike in the accident rates in the years 1912 and 1913.  In the absence of further explanatory remarks by Sri Aurobindo, one cannot decipher what exactly was meant by the phrase “revolt of Nature against machinery continues”.  Maybe certain accidents cannot be ascribed to “human error” or “mechanical failure”?  Perhaps the introduction of new technologies like airplanes or monstrous structures like the passenger liner RMS Titanic had provoked a revolt from the forces of Nature?  Purblind souls that we are, we cannot easily fathom the mechanisms that Nature wields, nor can we see the variety of occult beings which are supposed to exist in the twilight zones beyond our vision.  We have to wait patiently until the “doors of perception are cleansed” in order to discover what exactly transpires behind the veil during a particular accident.  There was a Q&A with the Mother which may shed further light on this topic.

Question: I didn’t understand this: “The so-called forces of Nature are but the exterior activities of beings out of proportion with man by their size and the powers at their disposal.”

Mother: For instance, take the wind which blows; now scientists will tell you: “These are manifestations of forces of Nature, and it is the result of such and such a phenomenon”, they will speak about heat and cold, high and low, etc., and they will tell you: “That’s the cause of the wind’s blowing, these are currents of air produced in the atmosphere.” But it is not this.  There are entities behind, only they are so huge that their form eludes us. It would be like your asking an ant to describe the form of a man — it couldn’t, could it? It sees at the most the tiny end of the little finger and it takes a walk on the foot — it is a great journey, and it would not know what a man’s form would be like. Well, it is almost the same thing. These forces which bring about wind, rain, earthquakes, etc. are manifestations of — call them gestures, if you like — of movements of certain beings so formidably huge that we hardly see the end of their foot and don’t realise their size [16].

In the works of Carlos Castaneda, we find analogous discussions on the mystery behind what are conventionally denoted as natural forces.  Once Don Juan told Castaneda, “I’ve told you, this is a weird world. The forces that guide men are unpredictable, awesome, yet their splendor is something to witness. Call them forces, spirits, airs, winds, or anything like that ”[ 17].

Almost fifty years after Sri Aurobindo had noted these observations regarding accidents, the Mother experienced a similar occult phenomenon.   She discovered that the vital forces which are released during the crushing of sugar cane in a factory can cause machinery to fail.  The following passage is from the Mother’s Agenda dated Sept 20, 1960.

I went to inaugurate the sugar factory the other day. I had an amusing experience.

From the material point of view, it’s almost hellish – the noise, the smell – a nauseating smell. I had to apply all my will not to be physically disturbed – they made me climb up narrow little stairs, go down, climb back up, look into deep pits. At some places there weren’t even guardrails, so I had really to control myself.

I was watching all this sugar cane – piles of sugar cane – which is thrown into the machine, and then it travels along and falls down to be crushed, crushed, and crushed some more. And then it comes back up to be distilled. And then I saw … all this is living when it’s thrown in, you see, it’s full of its vital force, for it has just been cut. As a result, the vital force is suddenly hurled out of the substance with an extreme violence – the vital force comes out … the English word angry is quite expressive of what I mean – like a snarling dog. An angry force.’

So I saw this – I saw it moving about. And it kept coming and coming and coming, accumulating, piling up (they work 24 hours a day, six days a week – only on the seventh do they rest). So I thought that this angry force must have some effect on the people – who knows, maybe this is what creates accidents. For I could see that once the sugar cane was fully crushed and had gone back up the chute, this force that had been beaten out was right there. And this worried me a little; I thought that there must be a certain danger in doing such a thing! … What saves them is their ignorance and their insensitivity. But Indians are never entirely insensitive in the way Westerners are – they are much more open in their subconscious.

I didn’t speak of it to anyone, but it caused me some concern. And just the next day the machine broke down! When I was informed, immediately I thought … It was then repaired, and again it broke down – three times. Then the following night, just before ten o’clock … I should mention that during the day I had thought, ‘But why not attract these forces to our side, take them and satisfy them, give them some peace and joy and use them?’ I thought about it, concentrated a little, but then I didn’t bother any further. At ten o’clock that evening, they came upon me – in a flood! They kept coming and coming. And I was busy with them the whole time. They were not ugly (not so luminous either! ), they were wholesome, straightforward – honest forces. So I worked on them. This began exactly at 9:30, and for one hour I was busy working. After an hour, I’d had enough: ‘Listen, this is quite fine, you’re very nice, but I can’t spend all my time like this! We shall see what to do later’ – for it absorbed my whole consciousness. They kept coming and coming (you understand what that means to a body?!). So at 10:30 I told them, ‘Listen, my little ones, be quiet now, that’s enough for today …’ At 10:30, the machine broke down!

I found out, of course, because they log everything at the factory, so when they came to inform me of the breakdown the next morning, I asked them what time it had happened – exactly 10:30.

After that, I made a kind of pact with them – the trouble, you see, is that there are constantly new ones. If only they were the same! They are constantly coming in new floods, so there was the need of a permanent formation over there. I’ve tried to make this permanent formation, to take and absorb them, to calm them down and scatter them a little so they don’t accumulate in one spot, which in the end could be dangerous.

I found this quite amusing.

The most recent incident took place a few days ago, for there was a general excitement in the factory due to the expected visit of a government minister during the day. That afternoon, exactly at half past three, I felt that I had to make a little concentration. So I paid attention and saw poor L’ praying to me. He was praying, praying, calling me – such a strong call that it pulled me. I was having my bath (you know what happens when I’m very strongly pulled – I’m stopped right in the very midst of a gesture, then the consciousness goes wandering off! And I can’t do anything, it stops me dead. That’s exactly what happened to me in the bathroom). When I saw what was happening, I straightened things out. Then they must have had their ceremony, for suddenly I felt, ‘Ah, now it has calmed down, it’s all right.’ And I went on to something else.

The next day, L came to see me. He told me that shortly before 3:30, the machine had stopped once again, but this time it was quickly set right; they found out right away what had to be done. And then he told me that at 3:45 he had started praying to me that all should go well. ‘Oh, I know!’ I said.

Things can be done in this way. In truth, a lot can be done – it’s man’s ignorance that gets him in trouble [18].

All this sheds new light on the incident where Jesus is said to have calmed the storm.  There are supposed to be river spirits, elfins, fairies, occult beings which represent every species – and many other weird things which the rise of rationality that came with the Age of Enlightenment was supposed to have extinguished.  (But no Virginia, there is no Santa Claus!)

All in all, it is quite possible that the world might become more mysterious once our eyes are opened to these hidden spheres of influence.  Till then, we can only close our eyes and luxuriate in our imaginations !


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17 thoughts on “Does Nature revolt against machinery?

  1. Sandeep Post author

    It is well nigh impossible to recover all the news sources that Sri Aurobindo accessed in those days.

    There are stray references in various memoirs of his disciples regarding the newspapers Sri Aurobindo might have read.

    Kanailal Ganguly in his memoir “As I remember” writes: “I came to Pondicherry on the 19th of July in 1923….How­ever, on reaching the house where Sri Aurobindo was living, I met Amrita who was rushing upstairs with ten daily news­papers”. This was around 1923.

    Nirodbaran in “Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo” writes that they used to get the Hindu, the Daily Mail and the Amrita Bazar Patrika. This was after 1938 though.

  2. D

    Thank you; interesting article. 2 references you might find relevant:

    1) Vol. 9, Questions and Answers, The Mother, 15th March, 1957 (near the end)

    2) And for little Virginia – Vol. 15; Words of The Mother – III, Pg. 198;

    “Father Christmas,
    I evoke you today!
    Answer our call. Come bearing all your marvellous gifts. You are the great dispenser of worldly possessions; you are the untiring friend who hears every request and grants it generously. Give each one the material object he desires, and as for me, give me enough, give me much so that I may give largely to all. “

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Thanks. I hadn’t read that first reference. Might as well quote it here for the sake of other readers. It is a story pertaining to the Mother’s stay in Algeria with the Theons. The administrator of Tlemcen planted fir trees instead of pine trees, after which Madame Theon was visited by a snow gnome who told her it would start snowing in the region because of the fir trees.

      Unfortunately, the story doesn’t add up because Madame Theon was born in 1843 and came to Algeria in 1887, whereas there are historical records indicating snowfall before that date in Algeria. Maybe Madame Theon’s received an image from the past (Chidakasha) ?

      For example, page 23 of John Murray’s “A handbook for travellers in Algeria” (published 1873) says “the year 1726 was celebrated for the unusual cold, Algiers being in that winter covered with snow”.

      The American Penny magazine, vol 2, p 308 has an article “Algeria and Tunis in 1815” by Capt J. Clark Kennedy which also refers to snowfall in the region.

      Furthermore, The Garden: an illustrated weekly journal of gardening, Volume 28 published in 1885 says that the Algerian silver fir tree is native to Algeria and its seeds were sent to France in 1865 by M. de Lannoy (a French govt official) under the name Abies numidica.

      Nevertheless, here is the passage related to snowfall in Algeria from Vol. 9, Questions and Answers, The Mother, 15th March, 1957. “She” in the passage refers to Madame Theon:

      Then she told me how after three years when the fir trees had grown, suddenly one day or rather one December night, as she had just gone to bed and put out her light, she was awakened by a tiny little noise—she was very sensitive to noise; she opened her eyes and saw something like a moonbeam—there was no moon that night—lighting up a corner of her room. And she noticed that a little gnome was there, like the ones you see in the fairy-tales of Norway and Sweden, Scandinavian fairy-tales. He was a tiny little fellow with a big head, a pointed cap, pointed shoes of dark green, a long white beard, and all covered with snow.

      So she looked at him—her eyes were open—she looked at him and said, “But… Eh! what are you doing here?”—she was a little worried, for in the warmth of her room the snow was melting and making a little pool on the floor of her room. “But what are you doing here!”

      Then he smiled at her, gave her his sweetest smile and said, “But we were called by the fir trees! Fir trees call the snow. They are trees of the snow countries. I am the Lord of the Snow, so I came to announce to you that… we are coming. We have been called, we are coming.”

      “Snow?… But we are near the Sahara!”

      “Ah! then you shouldn’t have planted fir trees.”

      Finally she told him, “Listen, I don’t know if what you tell me is true, but you are spoiling my floor. Go away!” So he went away. The moonlight went with him. She lit a lamp—for there was no electricity—she lit a lamp and saw… a little pool of water in the place where he had stood. So it was not a dream, there really was a little being whose snow had melted in her room. And the next morning when the sun rose, it rose upon mountains covered with snow. It was the first time, it had never been seen before in that country.

      Since then, every winter—not for long, just for a little while —all the mountains are covered with snow.

      So that’s my story.

  3. Sandeep Post author

    In the course of a conversation, the Mother said that the invention of the atom bomb disturbed some occult entities:

    “But I have seen other things which are like this, but not very pleasant. It is from the time men have invented—not invented but discovered— and begun to play like babies with things they did not know, and have made atom bombs and other worse things still. This has truly disturbed terribly all these little entities which lived indeed according to a certain rhythm which was their own, and were in the habit of commanding at least events that can be foreseen. This has disturbed them very very much, they have suffered terribly from it, and it has made them lose their heads, they no longer know what they are doing.

    There was a time at the end of the War, when things had truly become terribly chaotic up there, they lived in a kind of absurdity; and as these unfortunate experiences continue, they have not yet come out of their panic. They are panic-stricken. Truly men play with things which they know only from outside, that is, don’t know at all. They know just enough to make a wrong use of them. Anything may happen, including, alas, catastrophes which were foretold long ago. It may happen… It depends… on what will intervene.”

    (Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 7, p 383)

  4. Pingback: Predictions of Sri Aurobindo | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  5. mike

    Yes, l remember Mother saying that you don’t need Divine Power in order to perform miracles. These little entities can do them for you. l can well believe Christ used them. But, l always felt Mother might have been refering to sai baba when She said this.
    l remember reading about a clairvoyant woman who went out to see him [SB] and when he came out to do his rounds in the ashram, she saw these two little astral beings perched on his shoulders. They turned round and saw her [they weren’t pleased, l believe] and she was knocked over with something like an electric shock.

  6. mike

    l find the Father Christmas story easier to believe than the snow gnome.
    All the eager expectations of those millions of kids round the world are more than capable of creating the Spirit of an Astral Santa – imagine all that Psychic energy and joy lol. lt has to produce a result somewhere.
    l don’t think M.Theon would make it up more any more than Mother would, but it’s quite possible Mother got some information wrong about snowfall statistics in the country, or was possibly misinformed by someone else.
    Although, l find it hard to believe that fir trees by themselves attract snow. l have fir tree forests near to where l live and snow is fairly rare most years [in the winter of course]. What about all those christmas trees in peoples houses. ln reality we should be snowed under and those gnomes must be working overtime lol. Perhaps owing to the population explosion the snow gnomes have gone into retirement at Santa’s grotto in the North Pole.

    1. Sandeep

      The news article reads

      Naval Officer Drowned
      London, Jan 29. Lieut Meryon, commanding a submarine, was washed by a heavy sea from the conning tower on entering the Firth of Tay and was drowned.

      That could be it. It is certainly a close match to this note : “Jan 30, 1913: Trikaldrishti of farther sea-accidents in the papers, of which the loss of a naval officer washed off his bridge, announced today, is a previous hint, showing the tendency still at work ”

      How the hell did you find it ?

  7. Sandeep Post author

    (A cyclonic gale began to blow and disturb the conversation.)

    Disciple: Are there beings who enjoy these gales and storms?

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes. There are spirits of fire, of storm and so forth.

    Disciple: Can’t these gales be stopped?

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if you can exert sufficient force. You just try and I shall support you. (Laughter)

    Disciple: Is it not more difficult to control the universal forces than to control beings?

    Sri Aurobindo: Why should it be more difficult?

    Disciple: A being is something individualized.

    Sri Aurobindo: Why should it be more difficult to control forces? If you can throw sufficient force yourself you can control the universal forces. What is most difficult to control is the material part of the universal play of forces.

    Disciple: Are the forces of Nature controlled and organized by psychic forces behind?

    Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by psychic forces? That is only a manner of describing.

    Disciple: I mean conscious forces which control the material forces of Nature.

    Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by material forces?

    Disciple: Electricity, for example.

    Sri Aurobindo: What is electricity?

    Disciple: The energy which produces the phenomena known as electric.

    Sri Aurobindo: That is the standpoint of the scientist. We Yogis regard these things in a different way. They are all phenomena, manifestations of conscious forces behind. Thus electricity is a manifestation of Agni.

    Disciple: Can these forces which manifest the phenomena of Nature be controlled by the exertion of Yogic powers?

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, though there is a limit to the exertion of such powers.

    Disciple: There is certainly a purpose behind all these movements of Nature.

    Sri Aurobindo: What purpose?

    Disciple: We may not know that purpose, but there must be some purpose. And that purpose sets the limit.

    Sri Aurobindo: That is only attributing human ideas to the explanation of universal phenomena — and this is quite useless. A fire attacks this house, I exert a force and the fire diverts itself to another house. What purpose is there in all this?

    Disciple: There is a belief that even a leaf does not fall unnoticed by God.

    Disciple: That is true in a sense. All the things and events of the world are encompassed within the consciousness of God and it is certainly not impossible for God consciously to determine the smallest detail.

    Sri Aurobindo: Thus, when I take three lumps of sugar instead of two for my tea, is it God that determines the choice with me? That is all nonsense — the ways of God are not like that. It is only when the human mind tries to understand things that they apply such mental ideas.

    Disciple: Then what do you mean by saying that there is a limit to the influence one can exert on the universal forces?

    Sri Aurobindo: The most material things are very difficult to manage. Thus it is easier to control the wind than to turn the water-tap by throwing your Yogic force upon the central part of the forces working behind these phenomena.

  8. mike

    “Sri Aurobindo: Yes. There are spirits of fire, of storm and so forth.”

    l had a vivid dream the other night which appears to be related to this.
    l was in a house with some people and we were looking out of a large window. l could see a gigantic black shape moving slowly outside. There were dark clouds [l think] and this dark humanoid shape had a sort of large bat that it was hitting the walls of the house with – nothing broke though. lt seemed like a huge storm or hurricane was going on outside, but of course it could just be symbolic too.
    Although, the so-called weather experts have been predicting a hard winter for this country, starting this month – nothing bad yet. Perhaps my subconscious was just create a disaster scenario based on this news lol.

    “Sri Aurobindo: The most material things are very difficult to manage. Thus it is easier to control the wind than to turn the water-tap by throwing your Yogic force upon the central part of the forces working behind these phenomena.”

    This reminds me of when M said that theon bent a thunderbolt.
    When SA said that it must have been well before the advent of the Supramental, l think. Surely, the Supramental wouldn’t have ‘limitations’..

  9. Felix

    Re: Mother’s anecdotes about Theon directing lightning, there’s a fascinating book by Jeffrey Mishlove about a man who could do that, it’s entitled: “The PK Man: A True Story of Mind Over Matter.”

  10. mike

    Yes, felix, PK-MAN was certainly an interesting character. He believed his power manisted with the help of aliens [more likely to be vital beings l think. A lot of ‘lntermediate Zone’ guru’s, like sai baba use them IMO].
    Theon seemed to have some kind of siddhi, but who knows, perhaps he had command over certain elemental air spirits. After all, he once told M [when they were aboard a ship, and a storm arose] to go out of Her body to placate the nature spirits who were causing it..

  11. mike

    Sorry sandeep, previous post had wrong email address.

    Yes, felix, PK-MAN was certainly an interesting character. He believed his power manifested with the help of aliens [more likely to be vital beings l think. A lot of ‘lntermediate Zone’ guru’s, like sai baba use them IMO].
    Theon seemed to have some kind of siddhi, but who knows, perhaps he had command over certain elemental air spirits. After all, he once told M [when they were aboard a ship, and a storm arose] to go out of Her body to placate the nature spirits who were causing it..


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