The Sapta Chatusthaya (Seven Quartets) is the program for spiritual practice that was revealed to Sri Aurobindo. It has four goals : Shuddhi (purification), Mukti(liberation), Siddhi(realization) and Bhukti (enjoyment).
Correspondence with chapters in the Synthesis of Yoga
It is possible to draw an approximate correspondence between the Sapta Chatusthaya and the chapters in the Synthesis of Yoga (referred to as SOY on this page).
Daivi Prakriti (Mother Nature)
Trikaldristi (triple time vision)
Astasiddhi (Eight occult powers)
5.Karma (Divine Work)
4.5 to 4.7
2.7-2.9, 4.8, 4.9
What follows is a description of the seven tetrads. They have been arranged roughly in order of realization.
1. Shanti Chathusthaya (Peace Quartet)
There are four things that he must have; first, equality in the most concrete practical sense of the word, samatā, freedom from mental, vital, physical preferences, an even acceptance of all God’s workings within and around him; secondly, a firm peace and absence of all disturbance and trouble, śānti; thirdly, a positive inner spiritual happiness and spiritual ease of the natural being which nothing can lessen, sukham; fourthly, a clear joy and laughter of the soul embracing life and existence. To be equal is to be infinite and universal, not to limit oneself, not to bind oneself down to this or that form of the mind and life and its partial preferences and desires. But since man in his present normal nature lives by his mental and vital formations, not in the freedom of his spirit, attachment to them and the desires and preferences they involve is also his normal condition”
[SOY (1992), The Action of Equality, p 694]
1.1. Samata (Equality)
Equality is the psychological and physical capacity to face all ups and downs of life with equal mind. There are two sides to the cultivation of equality: passive and active. Passive equality liberates one from the action of lower nature (senses) while Active equality admits us into the action of the Higher Self.
The first calm that comes is of the nature of peace, the absence of all unquiet, grief and disturbance. As the equality becomes more intense, it takes on a fuller substance of positive happiness and spiritual ease. This is the joy of the spirit in itself, dependent on nothing external for its absolute existence, nirāśraya, as the Gita describes it, antah-sukho’ntarārāmah, an exceeding inner happiness, brahmasamsparśam atyantam sukham aśnute. Nothing can disturb it, and it extends itself to the soul’s view of outward things, imposes on them too the law of this quiet spiritual joy. For the base of it is still calm, it is an even and tranquil neutral joy, ahaituka. And as the supramental light grows, a greater Ananda comes, the base of the abundant ecstasy of the spirit in all it is, becomes, sees, experiences and of the laughter of the Shakti doing luminously the work of the Divine and taking his Ananda in all the worlds.
[SOY (1992), The Action of Equality, p 698]
1.1.1. Passive or Negative Equality
Passive equality is of three types based on differences in approach : Titiksha (way of will), Udasinata (way of knowledge), Nati (way of devotion). All three approaches lead to the same goal.
- Titiksha: Ability to bear all sensations without being overpowered by unpleasant ones or overjoyed by pleasant sensations.
- Udasinata:Indifference to dualities of life based on the fact that what the outer mentality sees are illusions of life. This indifference may be of four kinds: Tamasic(inertia), Rajasic(kinetic), Sattwic(pure), Trigunatita (that which has conquered the three Gunas or qualities).
- Nati:An equal submission to the will of the the Divine.
1.1.2. Active or Positive Equality
While Passive equality requires the cultivation of detachment of our Self from the outer world, Active equality implies a return and possession of the world in the power of the calm and equal Spirit. Once we acquire the full consciousness of the Self, we can act on the world with calm, joy, knowledge and seeing will of the Spirit.
Active equality, like passive equality, has three approaches:
- Rasa :Joyous calm based on Nati.
- Priti : Pleasure of the mind in all Rasa.
- Ananda : The Divine pleasure in existence, which is superior the mental pleasure.
1.2. Shanti (Peace)
When Samata(Equality) mentioned above is perfected, the being reigns in Shanti(Peace). This may be a vast passive calm founded on Passive equality or a vast joyous calm based on Active equality. The former is an intermediate stage which must culminate in the latter.
1.3. Sukha (Happiness)
Complete release from grief and depression. A state of positive inner happiness and spiritual ease. This comes from fulfillment of the first two parts of this quartet: Equality and Peace.
1.4. Hasya (Atmaprasada)
Hasya is the active side of Sukha. It is an active internal state of gladness and cheerfulness which no adverse experience mental or physical can trouble. Atmaprasada is a state of clearness, purity and contentment on the whole self; equivalent to hasyam (though hasyam is sometimes regarded as a still more positive state).
2. Shakti Chatusthaya (Power Quartet)
This may be called the Siddhi of the temperament or nature in the lower system, in the internal Triloka of mind, life and body, Manas, Prana, Annam. To put it from a higher standpoint, it is the Siddhi of the divine Shakti working in these three principles. These four things are the essentials of this second element of perfection, the full powers of the members of the instrumental nature, the perfected dynamis of the soul nature, the assumption of them into the action of the divine Power, and a perfect faith in all our members to call and support that assumption, śakti, vīrya, daivī prakŗti, śraddhā.
2.1 Shakti (Power)
Shakti is the perfection of different parts of the system which enables them to do their work perfectly. The development of these four powers has also been discussed by the Mother Mirra Alfassa in her talk on the Four Austerities and Four Liberations.
2.1.1. Deha Shakti (physical strength) : Perfect state of the body consists of four things – Mahattwa(sense of mass and force), Balam(strength and energy), Laghuta(lightness), Dharana-Samarthya(capacity to bear intense power of higher consciousness without strain)
2.1.2. Prana Shakti (vital strength) : Perfect state of Prana consists of four things – Purnata(fullness of vitality), Prasannata(cheerfulness), Samata(equality in all shocks and contacts), Bhogasamarthya (bliss without desire but also without exhaustion)
2.1.3. Chitta Shakti (psychic strength): Snigdhata(gladness of feeling), Tejas(abounding power), Kalyanasraddha(confidence in grace), Premasamarthya (capacity for unbounded love for all beings and objects).
2.1.4. Buddhi Shakti (intellectual strength) : Vishuddhata(purity of thinking), Prakasha(clearness of thinking), Vichitra (richness and minuteness of perception), Jnanadharanasamarthya (power of mind to absord any kind of knowledge).
2.2. Virya (Energy of Divine Temperament)
Every man has in himself all the four Dharmas (inner capacities or laws), but one predominates, in one he is born and that strikes the note of his character and determines the type and cast of all his actions; the rest subordinated to the dominant type and helps to give it its complement. The perfected man develops in himself all four capacities and contains at once the god: of wisdom and largeness, the god of heroism and force, the god of skill and enjoyment, the god of work and service. Only one stands dominant and leads and uses the others.
2.2.1. Brahmatejas : Lipsa, Jnanaprakasha, Brahmavarchasya, Sthairya
2.2.2. Kshatratejas : Abhayam, Sahasam, Yasholipsa, Atmaslagha
2.2.3. Vaishyashakti : Danam, Vyayah, Kaushalam, Bhogalipsa.
2.2.4. Shudrashakti : Kamah, Premah, Dasyalipsa, Atmasamarpanam
2.3. Daivi Prakriti (Divine Nature)
This was initially referred to as Chandibhava. The divinisation of the perfected nature can, however, come about by calling in the divine Power, or shakti to replace our limited human energy so that this may be shaped into the image of and filled with the force of a greater infinite energy (daivi prakriti, bhagavati shakti)
2.4. Sraddha (Faith)
Faith is of two kinds : Śaktyām (faith in shakti or executive power) and Bhagavati (faith in god or directing power)
3. Vijnana Chatusthaya (Knowledge Quartet)
3.1. Jnanam (knowledge)
- Of thought : Dristi (revelation), Sruti(inspiration), Smriti (latent memory). See Four Powers of Intuition.
- Of experience : Perception of things through Bhava of Sat, Chit, Tapas and Ananda.
- Of action : Satyadharma is the carrying out of the jñāna in bhāva and action.
3.2. Trikaladrsti (Triple time-vision)
In ancient Hindu scriptures, this capacity was referred to as Trikala-Jnana. It is a combination of direct knowledge of the past, intuitive knowledge of the present and prophetic knowledge of the future. It has four ways of operation
- Directly without means through drishti(revelation), sruti(inspiration) and smriti(latent memory)
- By concentration on the object.
- By the external sign of the object.
- By the combination of vyapti and prakamya.
3.3. Ashtasiddhi (Eight powers)
The names that Sri Aurobindo gave these powers differ slightly from the conventional names given here.
- Prakamya (Wish fulfilment) : It is of four kinds : Objects distant, Objects in other planes, Objects in past & future whose image we have in front of us, State of mind someone may have in past which is recorded in chitta; or what they may have in the future which is recorded in the prescient parts of chitta
- Vyapti or Prapti (All-pervading) : Vyapti is agent of vashita. Control object by spoken word, receptive of thought. To each form of prakamya, there is a corresponding vyapti. Guru communicates by vyapti. Prakamya gives perception of feelings, but vyapti those feelings strike in our consciousness. Prakamya is the sight of one looking from a distance & seeing an object; vyapti is the sensation of that object coming towards us or into contact with us.
“There are three possible movements of this kind of supramental observation. First, the knower may project himself in consciousness on the object, feel his cognition in contact or enveloping or penetrating it and there, as it were in the object itself, become aware of what he has to know. Or he may by the contact become aware of that which is in it or belongs to it, as for example the thought or feeling of another, coming from it and entering into himself where he stands in his station of the witness. Or he may simply know in himself by a sort of supramental cognition in his own witness station without any such projection or entrance. The starting-point and apparent basis of the observation may be the presence of the object to the physical or other senses, but to the supermind this is not indispensable. It may be instead an inner image or simply the idea of the object. The simple will to know may bring to the supramental consciousness the needed knowledge – or, it may be, the will to be known or communicate itself of the object of knowledge.”
[SOY (1992), Supramental Instruments – Thought Process, p 826]
- Aishvarya (Power): Effectiveness of will acting on object without physical means. There are four ways in which it works: Tapas of chaitanya on object, Tapas on prakriti (general world or prakriti of object itself), Tapas on prakriti to bring about circumstances indirectly, Without pressure – but by will/thought (ajnanam or command) which prakriti obeys. The last is highest in which Chit and Tapas become one.
- Ishita (Supremacy over Nature): Effectiveness of will by heart
- Vashita (Control over natural forces)
- Mahima: greatness. The power of increasing the physical mass and density at will.
- Laghima: lightness. The power of making the body light by exceeding gravity at will. See the post : Man shall not live by bread alone
- Anima: subtlety. The power of making the body subtle by reducing the physical mass and density at will.
Samadhi is the power by dwelling fixedly of the chaitanya on its object to extend the range of knowledge & consciousness through all the three states of waking, sleep & dream, to the realisation of those tattwas of the Brahman to which the ordinary waking consciousness is blind and to the experience, either in reflected images or in the things themselves, of other worlds and planes of consciousness than the material earth or this waking physical consciousness.
4. Sharira Chatusthaya (Physical body Quartet)
4.1 Arogyam (Health)
Arogya is the state of being healthy. There are three stages:
- When the system is normally healthy and only gets disturbed by exceptional causes or very strong strain, such as continual exposure to cold, overstrain of any kind.
- When even exceptional causes or great overstrain cannot disturb the system; this shows that there is full Arogya Shakti.
- Immortality in the body.
4.2. Utthapana (Levitation)
Utthapana is the state of not being subject to the pressure of physical forces. There are three stages here:
- When there is a great force, lightness and strength in the body (full of vital energy); this shows that the body is full of Prana Shakti.
- When there is no physical weariness, no exhaustion of the brain or nervous centres.
- When one is not necessarily subject to the law of gravitation or other physical laws.
4.3. Saundaryam (Beauty)
Saundarya is the state of perfection in the body. There are three stages here:
- When there is brightness in the body combined with sweetness of voice and charm of expression etc.
- Continual youth.
- When the features and figure can be changed to a form of perfect beauty.
5. Karma Chatusthaya (Divine Work Quartet)
Krishna is the Ishwara(Divine) taking delight in the world. Krishna-Kali is the dual realisation of Krishna and Kali, Ishwara and Shakti, constituting the “subjective half” of the Karma Chatusthaya.
Kali is the Shakti(Power) carrying out the Lila(Divine Play) according to the pleasure of the Ishwara (Divine)
Kama is the Divine Enjoyment which arises when the action of higher consciousness results in the flow of bliss within the body.
Karma is Divine Action. Spiritual action in the objective field along the lines of the adesha. In case of Sri Aurobindo, this included Kriti, Daiva, Sahitya and Kama.
“There is also a speech, a supramental word, in which the higher knowledge, vision or thought can clothe itself within us for expression. At first this may come down as a word, a message or an inspiration that descends to us from above or it may even seem a voice of the Self or of the Ishwara, vāņī, ādeśa. Afterwards it loses that separate character and becomes the normal form of the thought when it expresses itself in the form of an inward speech”
[SOY, Part 4, Chapter 22, Supramental thought and knowledge]
“His word, command, Adesha, presence, touch, guidance can come to us through our spiritualised psychic consciousness and, as a subtly concrete means of transmission from the spirit, it can give us a close communication and nearness to him through all our psychic senses”
[SOY, Part 4, Chapter 26, Supramental Time-consciousness]
6. Brahma Chatusthaya (Divine Quartet)
The Siddha or perfected soul will live in union with the Purushottama (Creator) in this Brahmic consciousness, he will be conscious in the Brahman that is the All, sarvam brahma, in the Brahman infinite in being and infinite in quality, anantam brahma, in Brahman as self-existent consciousness and universal knowledge, jñānam brahma, in Brahman as the self-existent bliss and its universal delight of being, ānandam brahma.
[SOY, Part 4, Chapter 10, Elements of Perfection]
6.1. Sarvam Brahma: when we realize unity with the universe.
6.2. Anantam Brahma: when we realize the Infinite Force and Quality at play in all forms.
6.3. Jnanam Brahma: when we realize the consciousness within everything which is aware of all.
6.4. Anandam Brahma: when we realize the delight hidden within all entities.
[Record of Yoga, p 1478]
7 Siddhi Chatusthaya (Realization Quartet)
7.1 Shuddhi (Purification)
7.1.1 Purification of Prana : This brings release from Vasana or desire, that is Asakti or attachment, action of emotion. Shanti is the negative Ananda and those have it who rest in the Nirguna Brahman. Shuddha Bhoga is the positive Ananda and those have it who rest in the Trigunatita Ananta Brahman.
7.1.2 Purification of Chitta :
This brings release from all sanskaras(volitional formations)
- Thought impulses start up from Chitta as instincts, inspirations, insights, intuitions etc. They come up coloured by emotions, distorted by associations and perverted by [the] imagination[s] which bring them up. Bhakti, genius, poetic inspiration all come from this source.
- Impulses of feeling are of two kinds – natural or eternal and artificial or Vikaras. Love, courage, compassion are natural and are actions caused by Jnanam. Hatred, fear, disgust are Vikaras and are distortions or reactions caused by Ajnanam.
- Impulses of action: Shuddha Pravritti, that is, action without desire independent of emotion. Ashuddha Pravritti, that is, action stirred by two forces, desire and emotion. Prohibit and inhibit by will all action or speech that starts blindly from the passions or emotions surging in the heart.
7.1.3. Purification of Manas: This is the release from habitual thoughts. The conceptual activity of the Manas is stilled and its perceptual activity is transferred to the higher Buddhi (a part of Prakamya).
7.1.4. Purification of Buddhi : Release from reason, imagination, memory and logic and their replacement with their supramental counterparts.
7.1.5 Purification of Body :
7.2.1. Liberation from Dvandvas (dualities) :
- Liberation from dualities of Prana: See [SOY Part 2, Chapter 7, The Release from Subjection to the Body] and [SOY Part 4, Chapter 8, The Liberation of the Spirit]
- Liberation from dualities of Chitta: See [SOY Part 2, Chapter 8, The Release from the Heart and the Mind]
- Liberation from dualities of Manas: See [SOY Part 2, Chapter 8, The Release from the Heart and the Mind]
7.2.2. Liberation from Ajnanam (ignorance) and Three gunas (Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas) :
“A liberation from Nature in a quiescent bliss of the spirit is the first form of release. A farther liberation of the Nature into a divine quality and spiritual power of world-experience fills the supreme calm with the supreme kinetic bliss of knowledge, power, joy and mastery. A divine unity of supreme spirit and its supreme nature is the integral liberation”
[SOY Part 4, Chapter 9, The Liberation of the Nature]
7.2.3. Liberation from Ahankara (ego or lower self) :
See [SOY Part 2, Chapter 9, The Release from the Ego]
7.3 Bhukti (Enjoyment)
Bhukti is Delight of existence in itself. It has three forms.
7.3.1. Rasagrahana : Taking delight in the mind.
7.3.2. Bhoga in Prana : This is Bhoga without Kama (i.e. enjoyment without desire).
- Kamananda (Physical) : This refers to the bliss flowing in the body due to activity of the Kundalini. (The Vedic equivalent is Soma)
- Premananda (Chitta) : Universal love in the vital being.
- Ahaitukananda (Manas) : Delight without cause.
- Chidghananda (Vijnana) :
- Shuddhananda (Ananda) :
- Chidananda (Chit) : Delight of pure consciousness.
- Sadananda (Sat) : Delight of pure existence
7.4. Siddhi (Realization)
And finally, the realization of all the quartets given above is the end-goal.
- Sri Aurobindo. Record of Yoga. (ROY) pp 1467-1481, pp 3-23
- Sri Aurobindo. Synthesis of Yoga (SOY) various pages (see Table above)
- Kireet Joshi. Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Appendix II.
- Sapta_Chatusthaya at a Russian language website
- (Broken link since 4th Oct, 2012) due to domain name expiration) Graph depicting various parts of the Sapta Chatusthaya
- Sri Aurobindo. CWSA volume 4. Writings in Bengali Translation. article on Prakamya
- Siddhi description on wikipedia
it is “an active internal state of gladness and cheerfulness which no adverse experience mental or physical can trouble”.
“a state of clearness, purity and contentment on the whole self”;
equivalent to hasyam (though hasyam is sometimes regarded as a still more positive state).