The Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with the Vande Mataram library has created a website on the Bhagavad Gita. It features audio rendition of each verse, transliteration, grammatical analysis of each Sanskrit word, a dictionary coupled with extensive cross-referencing. To top it all, they have also included Sri Aurobindo’s commentary on the text.
While reading the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, have you ever wondered from what level of consciousness they spoke? Was their brain constantly tingling with luminous revelations as they answered questions? Were subtle images of the past or future dancing before their eyes when they looked at people? There are recorded conversations where Sri Aurobindo admits to not knowing certain worldly matters, implying that either omniscience is not what it is projected to be or that he didn’t care to use his occult powers to investigate mundane matters (see Notes below)
Time magazine in Jan, 1950 called it the “Revolt of a doormat” (alternate link). Nandini Mehta, wife of Bombay textile millionaire Bhagvandas Mehta and mother of three children went to court asking for legal separation. She had become a disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti and aspired to live a celibate life but her husband would not permit her to do so. After an acrimonious court battle, she eventually separated from her husband but was unable to gain custody of her children (1). She devoted the rest of her life to running an orphanage Bal Anand (i.e. “joy of children”; it still exists; see a report).
The path of the Yogin demands dogged persistence because final perfection depends on two qualitatively different factors: one’s own refractory psychological habits whose complete dissolution requires multiple rounds and a whimsical Divine power which intermittently showers its Grace but leaves you in the dark at other times. These are a couple of progress reports that Sri Aurobindo had jotted down in his diary The Record of Yoga during his early years in Pondicherry. They indicate the ceaseless struggle and the subsequent reversal of consciousness that he underwent in the quest for yogic perfection.
The Bhagavad Gita is an inspiring scripture which people frequently turn to for guidance and also quote in support of their arguments. Unfortunately, its aphoristic quality and the backdrop of the war through which its message has been expounded makes it amenable to divergent interpretations. Pacifists tend to be distressed by the justification of war while the warhawks delight in it. The Gita’s enunciation of multiple spiritual paths provides leeway for commentators to selectively highlight the sections they prefer and ignore the rest of the book. Ethicists, for instance, may assume that the Gita preaches the performance of duty above everything. In this article, we examine Sri Aurobindo’s perspective on the Gita.
The spiritual path attracts all kinds of people, each endowed with some peculiar psychological strengths and weaknesses. The Bhagavad Gita 7:16 (see Four types of Divine seekers) speaks of four types of spiritual aspirants: those who seek refuge from worldly troubles, those who seek intellectual satisfaction in spiritual knowledge, those who wish to use the Divine strength to fulfill worldly ambitions and above all, those who synthesize devotion and knowledge and seek union with the Divine without expecting anything in return. In this context, Dr Ramesh Bijlani, who is currently affiliated with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi, has written a perspicacious article detailing some pitfalls that can be observed in young, over-eager spiritual aspirants. This rest of this article is excerpted from his blog.
We desire security in life and the manner in which we satisfy this desire alters considerably as we evolve in consciousness. At the lowest level stands the social individual, who prudently nurtures an extensive network of family and friends to whom he/she can turn to in times of desperation. In the middle stands the neophyte on the spiritual path, who seeks shelter in a place of meditation – a room where the vibrations have been made serene through devotional music and incense – where he or she can withdraw to contemplate and gain strength during trials and tribulations.
The ordinary life undulates between inspired action, drudgery, boredom and leisure. Our response to the events of the day is shaped by our memory of the past. Abuse, poverty, illness and betrayal leave their mark on our consciousness making us polarized, disheartened, bitter or hard-charging. To uplift the abased life, the first goal of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is the practice and perfection of equanimity (Samata in the words of the Gita) in every aspect of life. Instead of renouncing everything and retiring to some cave/ashram/monastery to meditate, the secret is to live in society and absorb the impacts without inducing stress. To be equal in all circumstances is the first step in perfection because it disengages the Spirit (Purusha) from the material consciousness (Prakriti). It is from the poise of equanimity that we rise into true freedom. The rest of this article covers various aspects of equanimity.
The desire to relax after a hard day’s work or a difficult week is a universal phenomenon observed in people everywhere. The human body has a finite capacity of concentration and needs to relieve the stress which builds up after a significant amount of mental or physical effort. Unfortunately, the methods of relaxation we choose often tend to make the situation worse by sinking us into a malaise which further depletes our energy. Better methods of relaxation are required and it is here that the psychological methods of Yoga need to be applied.
This post is a collection of some interesting terms from the Bhagavad Gita that denote various states of self-realization, along with explanatory text from the works of Sri Aurobindo. The terms covered in this post are Vyavasaya-yukta Buddhi, Atmarati, Brahmi-sthithi, Nimitta-Matra, Brahma-Nirvana, Samahita, Samyatendriyah, Samsiddhi, Samam Brahma, Udasinavat, Krsna-vit, Brahma-bhuya and Madbhava.
Karma Yoga(Yoga of Works), as outlined in the Bhagavad Gita, involves doing work not for one’s ego but as an offering to the Divine. The principles of Karma Yoga can be easily applied in the tranquil atmosphere of some spiritual retreat where one is surrounded by like-minded people but it is much more difficult to practice in a professional or business environment of today’s capitalistic society. This post discusses some finer points of Karma Yoga based on the commentaries of Sri Aurobindo.
The words of Christ: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) have deep meaning to those who practice Yoga. The “word of God” here indicates that the Divine Being has manifested the world using etheric vibrations and all these vibrations are akin to words coming from the mouth of God.
Here is Sri Aurobindo on the Gita Chapter 6, Verse 5
uddhared atmanatmanam natmanam avasadayet
atmaiva hy atmano bandhur atmaiva ripur atmanah
This post is about the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 18.
karmany akarma yah pasyed akarmani ca karma yah
sa buddhiman manusyesu sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krut
The Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 2, Verse 69 describes an enigmatic reversal of day and night in the life of a Yogi.
ya nisha sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisa pasyato muneh
The Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 7, Verse 16 defines the four types of people who seek the Divine.
catur-vidha bhajante mam
janah sukritino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi
jnani ca bharatarsabha
The ancient Hindu scriptures speak of the Universe as an inverted Banyan/Ashwattha tree with its roots in the Higher Worlds of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) and its branches in the many lower worlds that have been created. This is a comprehensive list of references to this tree in the ancient scriptures and the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The world tree motif is present in many other religions and mythologies (See World-Tree)