The inner Self, no larger than the size of a man’s thumb…
(Katha Upanishad 2.3.17, Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.13)
Others see in the meditation upon Him within their own body the Personality of Godhead residing in the region of the heart measuring eight inches, having four arms, carrying the lotus, the wheel of the chariot, the conchshell and the club.
In the space lying inside the heart, the Purusha assumes the form of manas which is immortal and golden in look. The flesh hanging like a teat from above the cavity of the throat is the abode of Indra.
(Taittiriya Upanishad I.6)
The psychic being is the evolving soul within us, which sits behind our heart, which develops life after life through life experiences. It is the portion of the Divine which holds together our mental, vital and physical sheaths. At the time of death, it decides the circumstances of our next birth and then withdraws into the psychic world for a period of rest.
Psychic Being same as the Vedic Agni
Purani: You have said that the psychic being is also a personality.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, there is the psychic Purusha.
Purani: Does the psychic being develop from birth to birth?
Sri Aurobindo : It is not the psychic being itself that develops, but it guides the evolution of the individual being by increasing the psychic element in the nature of the individual. It is these personalities in nature that are bound.
Purani: Then it seems that the function of the psychic being is the same as that of Vedic Agni who is the God of Fire, who is the leader of the journey.
Sri Aurobindo : Yes. Agni is the God of the psychic and, among other things that it does, it also leads the upward journey.
(Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 23 Jan 1939)
Disciple: Has the psychic flame any correspondence to the Vedic Agni? They seem to have more or less the same chief/qualities.
Mother: Yes, these are two names for the same thing.
(CWMCE, vol. 16, p 208)
The Mother on the psychic being
Question : Is the psychic being in the heart?
Answer : Not in the physical heart, not in the organ. It is in a fourth dimension, an inner dimension. But it is in that region, the region somewhat behind the solar plexus, it is there that one finds it most easily. The psychic being is in the fourth dimension as related to our physical being
Question : Mother, why is it better to concentrate in the heart?
Answer : He says here that it is easier. For some people it is more difficult, it depends on one’s nature. But it is better because if you concentrate there, deeply enough, it is there that you enter into contact with the psychic for the first time; while if you concentrate in the head you have to pass later from the head to the heart to be able to identify yourself with the psychic being. And if you concentrate by gathering the energies, it is better to gather them here, because it is in this centre, in this region of the being that you find the will to progress, the force of purification, and the most intense and effective aspiration. The aspiration that comes from the heart is much more effective than that from the head.
(Questions and Answers, Vol 6, 3 November 1954)
Discussion on nomenclature
Sri Aurobindo : Did you refer to the dictionary to find out whether “Chaitya Purusha” can mean “the Psychic being”, “the Soul”?
Disciple (1) : I did, but the word is not given there in that sense; it only carries the sense of Chaitya of the Buddhas and the Jainas.
Sri Aurobindo : That is quite another meaning. But what about this one?
Disciple : But you have yourself used it in the Arya at two places.
Sri Aurobindo : How is that? Where?
Disciple : In the Synthesis of Yoga, in the fourth chapter about the “Four Aids” you have mentioned there “Chaitya Guru”, the inner guide.
Disciple (1) : In Vaishnavite literature it means the portion, – Amsha – of the Divine which guides a man. It is called Chaitya Guru.
Sri Aurobindo : I wanted to know if the word has a fixed connotation. If it has not, then one can use the word “Chaitya Purusha” for the “Psychic being”. It has the advantage of carrying both the functions of the Psychic being : it is the direct portion of the Divine in the human and it is also the being that is behind the Chitta.
(A.B. Purani, Evening Talks With Sri Aurobindo, first series, p 259, dated 28th jan, 1926)
A disciple’s experience
Satyendra Thakore: I saw a small bright/flame as big as a man’s thumb in the region of the heart. What is it?
Sri Aurobindo: It is the psychic fire kindled in the heart. The psychic being is described by the Upanishads as of the size of a thumb angushthamatrah purusho’ntaratma — it may manifest first as this psychic flame.
(Satyendra Thakore. Their Deep Compassion, 8th April, 1938)
Sri Aurobindo on the psychic being
The psychic being is in the heart centre in the middle of the chest (not in the physical heart, for all the centres are in the middle of the body), but it is deep behind. When one is going away from the vital into the psychic, it is felt as if one is going deep deep down till one reaches that central place of the psychic. The surface of the heart centre is the place of the emotional being; from there one goes deep to find the psychic. The more one goes, the more intense becomes the psychic happiness which you describe.
(Letters on Yoga, Triple transformation)
The psychic being in Savitri
The first line of this verse describes the psychic being as being “no bigger than the thumb of man”. This is an allusion to verse 2.1.12 of the Katha Upanishad which says “The Purusha, of the size of a thumb, dwells in the body. (Realizing Him as) the Lord of the past and the future, one does not (henceforward) want to protect oneself. This verily is that (thou seekest).“
She puts forth a small portion of herself,
A being no bigger than the thumb of man
Into a hidden region of the heart
To face the pang and to forget the bliss,
To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds
And labour mid the labour of the stars.
This in us laughs and weeps, suffers the stroke,
Exults in victory, struggles for the crown;
Identified with the mind and body and life,
It takes on itself their anguish and defeat,
Bleeds with Fate’s whips and hangs upon the cross,
Yet is the unwounded and immortal self
Supporting the actor in the human scene.
Through this she sends us her glory and her powers,
Pushes to wisdom’s heights, through misery’s gulfs;
She gives us strength to do our daily task
And sympathy that partakes of others’ grief
And the little strength we have to help our race,
We who must fill the role of the universe
Acting itself out in a slight human shape
And on our shoulders carry the struggling world.
This is in us the godhead small and marred;
In this human portion of divinity
She seats the greatness of the Soul in Time
To uplift from light to light, from power to power,
Till on a heavenly peak it stands, a king.
(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book VII, Canto V)
- Psychic Transformation
- The elusive touch of the psychic being
- The psychic joy derived from a selfless act
- The Nachiketa fire sacrifice
- How to awaken the soul (psychic being)?
- Wikipedia entry on Psychic Being