Sri Aurobindo is significant to the world today. This is not to say that others are not equally significant but it is in a quite unique sense that Sri Aurobindo is significant. It is undoubtedly his superior powers of perception of the world’s need that marks him out as an outstanding personality. He has not the advantage that others who have been in the fray of things have had. He was not either a statesman or a politician or a General who easily steps into the role of a Nation Builder. He had not been a professional philosopher or psychologist and sociologist, not even a “poet”. His mould by and large is different and the direction of his life had been seriously upward and evolutionary. That the theory of evolution affected him deeply and moulded his yearning for higher than human evolution is true but what he did of it is something quite marvellous. He worked out the implications of the need for higher evolution, not merely as an individual effort but as a cosmic effort or nisus that is inevitable and divinely ordained. Man has come to the end of his journey: the next step is to pass over to divine evolution, an evolution that is inspired by divine knowledge and sovereign delight and beauty and love. No longer has man to hug to the principle of compassion or kindliness and generosity in all affairs, for this leads to the impotent love of all and no more. Love of man is good not for its own sake, but all that modern humanism teaches is just this and no more. What is man’s destiny or his ideal: service of man as he is, or is it for the higher evolution of man – a clarion call to a higher and richer and fuller life in the Universal Divine? Service then is for the higher movement. Surely Milton might be right when he said that ‘They also serve who only stand and wait’, for is it not true that our humanistic service of man has led to many odious results and has perhaps paved the way of a great relentless destruction of man himself. Science yoked to human comfort or needs has plunged man into the abyss of irretrievable fear and gloom – a paradoxical comfortable gloom.
There is in man, as the – Upanishads have stated, a greater than man – the empirical man of the world, the human ego – the Self that is to be chosen and followed and realized. The fulfillment of this Self is the real ideal of man – his rationale for existence and enjoyment. The discovery of this Supreme Self is about the most important for man, and it is this discovery that is the hope opened for man’s fulfillment and completion. Service that tends to lead man to this ideal and realization of it is real service - all other service is perhaps instrumental towards it; perhaps necessary perhaps not.
The second important factor that Sri Aurobindo has emphasized is that the meaninglessness of life taught by Mayavada is not a correct view. That it is meaningless to an ignorant or less than intelligent consciousness may be accepted, but in the Ultimate Reality conceived as all intelligence and bliss there can hardly be anything that is meaningless. All is significant, evolution, descent into it and ascent towards the fullest manifestation of all the potentialities of the Infinite, all the objectification of the Infinite. In one word ‘Lila’ is the fullest expression, manifestation, perfection of the Divine not its imperfection, degradation; it is not the entropy that is tending towards the maximum: on the contrary it is the extropy that is tending towards the maximum in evolution. The spiritual evolution thus is in one sense moving opposite in direction to the material process of Nature. For indeed it is true that the physical and psychical belong to the order of Nature and matter, whereas the free Spirit moves towards the higher limits of its own infinite being and in the process modifies the entire processes of Nature itself. It is precisely the demands of spirit more easily than to the efforts of mechanics and matter. The perfection of the world or creation is the goal of the Divine Intelligence. The conception of the world as an imperfection or a fall or illusory manifestation or of ignorance stumbling to wards doom is not the real meaning of existence. This dynamic conception of Reality is a kind of perfectionism and is in contrast to the various other conceptions of the same. Philosophers no less than poets have built round this world the aura of imperfection and darkness and escapism or renunciation of the world and its work the ethics of existence. Sri Aurobindo on the other hand rejects all such melancholy views or tragic conceptions and holds that the Divine is Good and Perfect and all that Divine does is good and perfect. All is verily of Brahman, not this inversion or perversion (vivarta).
Sri Aurobindo has by his integral theory of Reality revealed that it is wrong to reject as valueless the world of manifestation though it appears to the ignorant as meaningless nor reject as equally valueless the world of Reality for both together from one Reality; both are integrally based on Ananda and both verily are of the very stuff of Consciousness. Intelligence, though the one is of concealed or veiled intelligence and consciousness and the other is the Absolute. To realize that they are one reality and not two is the real Monism, Advaita that is integral. Even so is the relation between the One and the many - both are real and both are necessary for each other but it is the truth of integral being to feel that they are simultaneously real and have to be real to each other. Earlier thinkers counselled the acceptance of the one and the rejection of the other or the many or else they subordinated the many to the One either ontologically or organically. Sri Aurobindo found that they are necessary to one another in a more basic manner, for they form One – a Unity in every sense. The world has argued that theoretical knowledge (tattva-jnana) is more important that hita-jnana or practical knowledge, and has from beginningless time held that the latter is avidya or ignorance whilst the former is knowledge. Sri Aurobindo found that this conception of the relationship between Tattva and Hita or theoretical and practical knowledge is one-sided and it requires the basic requirements of devotion and dedication to know the Ultimate. It is in devotion that both meet and become capable of helping the ultimate realization. So an integral knowledge includes the karma as well as devotion and is really based on the requirements of devotion that is absolute and unconditional. Such an unconditional devotion is Surrender. But surrender means a kind of helpless resignation, as in War or contests or duals. Such Surrender to God or Master may mean only that one is helpless and suffers from impotency. It has not intention of rising with the help of the Master. At best it is repentance for the follies and sins that one has committed. A deep feeling of sin pervades the surrenderer. The falling at the feet of a Master or Guru or God (Prapat) is therefore not enough. What is necessary is the spirit of offering one-self (as Sri Krishna has stated “Pranipatena Pariprashnena Sevaya”) for the supreme service of being transformed or transmuted to be the servant of God-becoming a Brahmabhuta. Such a divinization is possible not to self-surrender but to self-offering alone. It is this need that Sri Aurobindo pointed out with luminous clarity as the primary need in divine evolution.
A mighty experiment in Divine Evolution is on foot today. The world is in the throes of a New Birth. The gnostic goal is the transformation of the earth-consciousness into the vehicle of Divine consciousness. Man has to be surpassed if mankind has to serve this purpose. Man is on the shores of a new consciousness. His psychic change is already underway. His physical changes are being ushered in by new atomic forces unleashed by man himself. A spiritual descent has indeed used and is using the forces of material nature itself for its transcendental purpose. How it works and through whom it is for the world itself to know. But the luminous figures of this epoch in history are undoubtedly Sri Aurobindo and his collaborator the Mother. A spiritual change subtly but inexorably brings about the psychic change, which, in turn, will affect the physical and vital and the mental simultaneously or successively, and the world will breathe a different air. Man lives for this triumph of man consciously and deliberately over all that ignorance has nourished for his mental, vital and physical preservation. Sri Aurobindo has announced the next step not as an ideal to be realized but as a fact that can be noted.
Sri Aurobindo is a practical mystic but does not end up in what passes for mysticism or mystic idealism amongst us. It appears that mysticism is to be defined as that elusive indefinable experience of Monistic Oneness in which all melt away into nothingness or non-experience. Such is not the integral view. It is well known that the real mystic deals with the entire world as it is real and true within which all values, the very ultimate values, can be realized. The ancient Rishis of India were practical mystics who saw the Ultimate every where and full (purna). Sri Aurobindo has discovered that whilst there ware certain strains in them which emphasized the contemplative life and thus led by subtle valuations to the devaluation of all manifested life and action, there were others which promise that future of a perfect and full life here and now. Thus it is not only Christianity that promised the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven, it is the earlier Vision of the Vedic Rishi that equally emphatically announced this possibility the reign of Rtam Satyam Brahat. Yoga is the path and the way of ascent but the cooperation of the two partners-God and Man-and even Mother Nature – is an absolute necessity.
The other yogas were partial and their direction was escapism or individual power in a limited way. But Sri Aurobindo pointed out that it is not liberation that is the aim-for that is secured by renunciation of all life and earth-consciousness-but the transformation of the earth-consciousness itself so that true freedom and perfection become possible here. It is true pessimism about the world’s possibility has been inculcated from the dawn of human history. It is against this pre-conception or superstition that Sri Aurobindo waged a relentless war. No religion, not even the Christianity of the moderns, entertains the perfectibility of earth-nature or asura-nature. It is therefore not the consciousness that informed the prophets of the earth so far but a new consciousness that comes down from depths of Reality-as supramental consciousness-that can perform this task in the next step of evolution. Sri Aurobindo canvasses the possibility of earlier descents in the form of the several Avataras (descents) and sees in the new descent the fulfillment of evolutionary perfection of the earth-consciousness which would henceforth have a new kind of man, a man with gnostic knowledge-wisdom-love and delight spreading world harmony everywhere. It is not a speculative conclusion to a daring imagination that he presents but a divine life itself in the process of descent. For himself he does not claim this status of a descent (Avatar), but as a human who is seeking the evolutionary ascent so that it may be possible for all humans who have this aspiration and thirst for the divine life in all its purity, glory and eternity. Evolution to be real must be of the all, the souls in upward movement to perfection. It is true there are many who are bent on the route to the dark worlds where light does not penetrate; but to those who yearn for the sunlit worlds of Truth, Beauty and Delight and Awareness the hope of an evolutionary ascent is open.
It is true also that ancients had in view the devas or gods who were equally considered to be under a peculiar kind of limitation and were not perfect in every sense-they are powers of the one divine or personalities limited by their cosmic station and functions. Sri Aurobindo’s superman is not one of this kind but a free individual of the Divine All, in whom the All eminently indwells and who dwells in the All.
Sri Aurobindo in one sense sums up all that is the hope of the future. Nothing that he has done in the spirit of a thinker but of master. He has broadly laid down the lines of human advance. His encyclopaedic knowledge and courageous interpretation of human destiny has opened up frontiers of hope in the human breast. He has himself guided, unlike the professors of the several faculties in the institution of education, the seekers after the Infinite in an integral way. There is to be a basic unification of one’s inward personality which is the condition of evolutionary advance. Our system of education geared up to secular ends-indeed evolutionary ascent is not an end at all for the human in the institutions of education today nor indeed in other institutions of religion too-have almost bye-passed this grandest necessity. It is forgotten that those who wish to survive must advance or perish. But our vigilance is to secure liberty or freedom or retain it but to use it for advance. For even a little liberty utilized or constantly exercised for evolutionary advance will help the movement towards ultimate realization as well as survival as better men.
The world has been broken up into bits for convenience of government but languages and customs and other factors have built up walls that have tended to separate man from man, group from group. Our world now is divided by all kinds of walls, psychic, physical, racial, communal and religious. But again and again nature breaks these walls and helps man to break up these walls. But assiduously like termites we build them up rationalizing their necessity for preservation of the odd and the useless, sometimes called culture - a word more unmeaning than many social words of to-day. All patterns do not have the meaning for evolutionary ascent or transformation. Sri Aurobindo has seen that though there can be many cultures the true culture that liberates is that which produces the dynamic stimulus for higher evolution. All which only lead to the preservation of linguistic and other trends of the human order or paint a picture of rosy certainty of self-complacency are meaningless to divine evolution. A new approach, a new light in the heart, a new vision that integrates and inspires the heart of all, these indeed are our need. Sri Aurobindo has provided these for this age to assimilate.
Careful in respect of the growth of man into divine nature, Sri Aurobindo had hardly neglected the meticulous training of his Sadhakas for this great transformation, this leap into the divine Nature, this Divine Birth – Sambhutya amrtam asnute – this birth that leads to Immortality.
All salutations to the Seer of the New Age of Divine Evolution.