10 Apr 2009

The Theme of Evolution in Sri Aurobindo’s Writings—its Centennial Celebration

The theme of evolution was central to Sri Aurobindo’s thought almost throughout his life. We have a set of essays written by him in 1909 which first came out in the weekly review the Karmayogin edited by him when he was in Calcutta; this was after his acquittal in the Alipore Bomb Case filed against the revolutionaries, including himself, in 1908. It is quite appropriate that we should read these over again to celebrate the centenary year of their appearance. For details click here.

Along with these three selected pieces, from Harmony of Virtue, must also go the absolutely last set of articles Sri Aurobindo dictated in 1950; this was at the request of the Mother who wished him to contribute to the newly started periodical, the Bulletin of Physical Education. These last writings were later published, in January 1952, in the book entitled The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth. The most important thing we become aware of in these revelations is the arrival of what Sri Aurobindo called the Mind of Light, the mind of the physical receiving the Supramental. It is this Mind of Light which governs the race of beings who provide a link between the Mental and the Gnostic beings,—the Intermediate Race.

If we do see a change in the writings of these two periods, separated by forty years, then it is not a change or shift of any kind in his central concepts related to the principles and methods of evolution, evolution which is more a collective change of consciousness, a change pertaining to spiritual evolution than to the evolution of form. The difference is due to the great yogic work that had gone towards the realization of the life divine upon earth, the difficult and untiring yoga-tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. To view it in any other manner, other than an occult-yogic work, howsoever appealing it might be to the rational mind, is to miss the entire purport of the evolutionary objective itself. One might please oneself with theories and concepts, but that would avail hardly anything if the day’s job is to make the evolutionary possibility a realised certainty.

Precisely in it lies the convincing uniqueness of Sri Aurobindo’s vision and work, and it is that we must celebrate during the centenary year, celebrate the first appearance of the theme in 1909.

Belonging to the writings of this early period, we include here a relevant record Sri Aurobindo made in his jottings of yogic experiences, dated March 1914. These jottings or records were more for his personal use than for publication. But these have now been published in book form under the title Record of Yoga. We do not know if Sri Aurobindo meant these to be made public at all, as we understand that the heap of papers containing these details had on top of it a note, marking it as ‘confidential’.

Perhaps the best thing would have been to just keep them as proper archival documents for studies by the interested individual researchers of his works. Which means that, while reading these, we must be extremely careful about the parameters that were associated with them at the time—we should not apply the demanding inflexible criteria of academic or professional scholarship to them, for they do not belong to the mental domain at all; we must only try to enter into the spirit of the occult knowledge they contain.

And what a treasure-mine it is, shining with luminous details, containing many a gem of the divine preciousness! When Sri Aurobindo says, for instance, that the Sun is only a subordinate star of the great Agni, Mahavishnu, in whom is centred the Bhu, the Earth, he is actually talking of knowledge of another world altogether. It will be a sheer travesty of this knowledge, as much as of the knowledge obtained by our present-day science, if we mix them up. One should be extremely careful in reading such details, actually meant for advanced yogi-occultists, and that could well be the reason why Sri Aurobindo might not have approved the publication of his records.

It is rather unfortunate that this important perspective is missed in the present publicity given to the Record of Yoga. All that we can now say is that the Record is meant for the seekers of the occult truth-details and they must qualify themselves before picking them up for study which should be more in the direction of extending the investigation of the occult working of nature, that functioning in this vast domain of space and time, time comprising of its three operative divisions. Let us hope that this will be well borne in mind before reference is made to the secrets of Record of Yoga.


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