Apropos of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
I’ve just gone through the chapter entitled The Ascent to Supermind: Pondicherry 1915-1926, the first of Part Five: Guide, of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs, and find it rather hastily written. It is also crude and easily popularistic-journalistic in its approach and attitude when seen in the context of the grand theme it purports to present, its quite a few inadequacies very glaring, its spiritual perceptions wanting in their penetration, in insight as much as in substance. The decidedly selective handling of the researched material much amounts to insensitive and blundering representation of Sri Aurobindo’s yogic siddhis, his realisations and his remarkable achievements. In fact the biography is doing enormous injustice to the spiritual things we value so deeply, so observantly and feelingly, injustice in more than one way. I may touch upon a few of them here.
Actually the title of the chapter itself is awfully misleading: the period 1915-1926 cannot be called “Ascent to Supermind”. Sri Aurobindo already had the knowledge of the Supermind, had it long ago—perhaps the first indication being when he was an undertrial prisoner in Alipore jail. At that time almost for two weeks the spirit of Vivekadanda would visit him and point it out to him, a bright golden star in the far above sky. And, remarkably enough, the Mother also spoke of the Supermind as early as on 15 December 1911, in Paris, much before she met Sri Aurobindo. Hers is a prayer soliciting the Sun of Truth, the Supreme Light to “pervade us entirely and illumine with its great brilliance our minds and hearts, all our thoughts and actions.” It is the Mantra of Transformation she received, the invocation being to the Sun of Truth, the Light of the Supreme, parasya jyotih of the Gayatri Mantra given to us later by Sri Aurobindo himself. Therefore what was happening during the period 1915-1926 was not the ascent but something radically different than that. It was the period of supramentalisation of the various grades of the lower consciousness. First it was the supramentalisation of the mental, during the Arya period, and then the supramentalisation of the vital. This finally paved the path for the overmentalisation of the physical, marking the siddhi on 24 November 1926, what he later called the descent of Krishna consciousness in the physical. Sri Aurobindo’s next concern was the supramentalisation proper of the physical itself. For that he put in a God’s labour, digging the dark grounds of inconscience. The result was, the Great Light, the Light of the Sun of Truth, started descending into his physical, the first definite experience coming on 8 August 1938. He has recorded it in his sonnet The Golden Light. We’ve nothing of this in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.