A series of interviews in which Sri Aurobindo discusses the practice of Yoga with Anilbaran Roy (1890—1974).

Overman Foundation

Dear Friends,

During the early years of his stay at Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo used to have informal conversations with people who would come to visit him. These talks, which were held after the evening meditation at 4 o’clock in the evening, depended on the leisure hours of Sri Aurobindo. From 1918 to 1922 these conversations took place on the verandah in the first floor of the ‘Guest House’ situated at 41 Rue François Martin Street. In October 1922 he shifted to 9 Rue de la Marine and accordingly the venue of the conversations too shifted. This house was known as the ‘Library House’ and here too the talks began soon after the half-an-hour long evening meditation ended. The visitors as well as Sri Aurobindo’s disciples could ask him any question that occurred to them. The topics of the conversations covered a diversified range of subjects which included not only politics…

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20 thoughts on “

  1. Mansee

    Thanks Sandeep.
    They are very candid and sincere conversations. They also help better to understand the vocabulary of IY!

  2. mike

    lt seems that knowing our past lives can be very helpful according to SA in these conversations – known in the right way, of course, and not through half-baked regression methods etc… and not for the usual romantic reasons mentioned here before.

    “Anilbaran: What you were saying to us yesterday about our past lives, was it all a joke? Or, was it said in seriousness?

    Sri Aurobindo: No, it was not a joke.

    Anilbaran: What about my past life?

    Sri Aurobindo: That I have not yet seen.

    Anilbaran: Does it help if one can know one’s past life?

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it does help much to know what elements are there.

    Anilbaran: That one may surely know from within.

    Sri Aurobindo: Yes, of course.”

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: lt seems that knowing our past lives can be very helpful according to SA in these conversations – known in the right way, of course, and not through half-baked regression methods etc… and not for the usual romantic reasons mentioned here before.

      Knowing one’s past incarnations might help but how does it help to know who Sri Aurobindo or the Mother were in their past lives? We were debating the value of the latter.

  3. mike

    Yes, that’s true sandeep. The first part l got mixed up.
    But, on the other hand, why did Mother reveal Her past lives and those of the SA, for us all to know, lf it wasn’t important. Did the Mother make a mistake?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: But, on the other hand, why did Mother reveal Her past lives and those of the SA, for us all to know, lf it wasn’t important. Did the Mother make a mistake?

      Just because she made some remarks does not imply that we should also study the topic with our rational mind. Her remarks came from a different plane of realization and may have been appropriate at that time in the presence of certain people who needed to know. The discussion may not be relevant today with a different audience.

      There are three points I can make on this topic:

      1) Some of that information which has been recorded is probably hearsay. In the 10 May 1969 entry in the Agenda, she denies some of the incarnations: “It has been said that Sri Aurobindo was Leonardo da Vinci…but Sri Aurobindo never told me so. I don’t know. Just as it has been often said that I was Mona Lisa, but I know nothing about it”

      2) She made contradictory remarks on the importance of past lives. At one point in her spiritual path, she was interested in them but later lost interest in the topic. WE have to determine what is good for us at this point in time. We find the following passage in the Agenda:

      From the individual standpoint, there was a time (besides, it was fairly widespread in people who dealt with so-called occult things), when it seemed thrilling to know one’s past lives, one’s past experiences; but as soon as I came here and understood what Sri Aurobindo had introduced, I found all that absolutely insignificant. It’s childish curiosity. It doesn’t help you in any way, it’s merely either to glory in it or have fun, but it’s unimportant. Some people still write to me, “Will you please tell me what my past lives were?” I answer them, “It’s not interesting. What’s interesting is the life you want to realize, not the errors you made in the past!”

      Agenda 5th April

      3) She made remarks from a certain plane of realization. Unless we have reached the same plane of realization, it is a distraction to discuss past lives because we don’t really KNOW what we are talking about. We might as well discuss some imaginary nonsense. This is another passage from the Agenda on the topic.

      If we are to speak of these things truly, we must speak of everything, in all details, for among the innumerable experiences I have had for nearly eighty years, many were of such variety and apparently so contradictory that in truth it can be said that all is possible. Therefore, to say something about past lives without retrieving the thread that runs through all the elements is to open the door to dogmatism. One day they will say, ‘Mother said this, Mother said that …’ and that is, alas, how dogmas are born.

      So given the multiplicity of experiences and the impossibility of spending my life speaking and writing, you must clearly understand that everything is possible and not be dogmatic. Nevertheless, I can give you a few general indications.

      From Undated 1957 Agenda Entry

  4. mike

    Also, l should mention that l referred only to ‘OUR’ past lives in the previous comment, and not the past lives of SA and Mother. l made no reference to them.

    “lt seems that knowing OUR past lives can be very helpful according to SA’

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  6. huta

    what is negative peace? also SA talks of know where the thoughts are coming from and which part of the being feels them what is he referring to? how can we identify this in ourselves?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      After reading the original post, negative peace seems to imply purely mental peace – some type of a brain pause – as opposed to a positive peace which ripples down the body.

      How to know where thoughts come from ? This becomes clear only when you are established in the Purusha. You suddenly begin to feel the incoming waves entering your consciousness and causing upheaval.

  7. hari

    I have heard this before, that thoughts come from outside and we simply receive them based on our conditioning. But still thoughts feel as if they are always inside, as if they spring from within. Observing them (and creating distance) is hard because you get to observe AFTER you get caught in them.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      There is an inner shell within you. Lets call it the “Purusha”. You won’t feel thoughts coming from outside until your consciousness becomes centered at this point. In most people, the consciousness is fixated outwards on the physical world so they can’t feel the difference.

  8. hari

    Thanks, Sandeep. I read in Aurobindo about Purusha, but I am wondering whether it is the ‘I’ we all experience, or is it something else? Is purusha something we always are?

  9. nishat

    Hari ji: In most mortals it is not. Except for the most rare individuals the I is not the same as the Purusha…. This is a pretty complicated and subtle topic especially because these ancient concepts have been embedded into grammar and languages thousands of years ago. One must be quite careful especially in the English language (which is a melting pot of all sorts of concepts and words!)
    In Sanskrit the I is “Aham” and in most of us our “Aham” or “I-ness” is identified with our thoughts of this instant and also our body. This is why we make a distinction between our body and the rest of the world…..Our mind (and hence our thoughts) have made an artificial separation between “our body” and the rest of nature. This artificial separation doesn’t exist anywhere else except in the ahankara of our mind.
    The word “Ahamkara” itself probably means “cause of I”
    The real deepest self is the Purusha which is the real cause of our I; but it’s very difficult for any mortal to contact this Purusha unless he gives up his Ahamkara and identifies only with this eternal Purusha.

  10. nishat

    Sorry, the reply above were merely my opinions upon Purusha and Ahamkara etc. I had not taken them from any of Sri Aurobindo’s writings nor of the Mother’s. The best solution to solve your queries would be to read in The Life Divine to the following chapters….

    Life Divine, Book Two Chapter 2 (Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara- Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 362-371)

    Book Two Part 2 Chapter 24 (The Evolution of the Spiritual Man, pp. 880-921)

    Each of those chapters are an incredible treasure of knowledge so it’s better to read it directly from Sri Aurobindo himself.

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