Friday, October 14, 2011

Mysticism in Sri Aurobindo’s Selected Poems


By Ms. Indu B,  Lecturer in English, Amrita School of Arts and Sciences, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kollam


Mysticism is a difficult concept for the common man to explain and it is beyond
comprehension except for those who have experienced it. A mystic, in his never- ending
quest for realizing the divine truth, experiences it. It is the direct intuitive experience of
the   Supreme reality. The mystic in his spiritual endeavour is in pursuit of the perfection
of his self, which will give him access to a higher state of being.
Mystics are those who get visions at the acme of spiritual revelation.  Their aspiration to
become one with the Absolute, an aspiration to have a direct communion with God
through an inward perception of the mind, transcends them. From a mundane level
they are transported to a higher level.  Mystic poetry embodies the visions that the seer
poet gets intuitively. Sri Aurobindo is a great mystic poet and philosopher who has 
enriched the realm of mystic poetry with his poems, which are nothing but the visions
he got during the spiritual experience.  
He envisages a new dawn, a new life and a new civilization through the spiritual
evolution of mankind. He combines in him a poet and a philosopher who lived through
their poetic visions. He prophesies a spiritual evolution of mankind which will lead to the
emergence of a superhuman  who will fulfil his highest individual and collective destiny
and a perfect social order will come into existence. His yogic vision has seen a Light
descending on earth to effect a change in the consciousness of man to transform him. 
Sri Aurobindo, a seer poet, has propounded his ideal from the enlightenment that he
has gained through his intuitive and mystic vision. His poetry expresses the deepest 2
spiritual experience. To Sri Aurobindo, poetry is the mantra, the rhythmic word, heard
from the innermost soul of the seer poet. The seer  poet gets visions, only when the
mind is evolved and it merges with Sacchidananda. His realization of the infinite makes
him a mystic. What gives his spirituality an edge over the others is his Integral yoga.
Unlike the other yogis who tried to divinize themselves, Sri Aurobindo goes a step ahead
in visualizing the  divinization of the entire cosmos, the transformation of Earth Life into
Divine Life. It is a change from our ignorant nature to God nature, the realization of
Brahma, the supreme truth which is eternal, infinite, self existent, non dualistic,
indivisible and is beyond form, quality, time and space. This divine truth which dwells in
all is being veiled by egoistic limitations which create dualities like pain and pleasure, joy
and sorrow, life and death. The human mind caught in the web of dualities, gropes in
ignorance and falsehood. This conception of dualities forms a hindrance in the   way of
the realization of the Sacchidananda, the divine truth.  He says, “ All beings are united in
that One self and spirit but divided by a certain separativity of consciousness, an
ignorance of their true Self and reality in the mind, life and body” . (On Himself, 95). He
is of the view that only in the realization of the  Self that one can realize the Divine.
Through his integral yoga, he realized not only the divine power but succeeded in
bringing down the divine power onto the Earth.
His philosophy involves three main factors: evolution, yoga and Nature of reality. Indian
philosophy conceives the highest reality as Atman or the Self. Sri Aurobindo looks at the
whole Universe from the standpoint of the highest consciousness and he emphasizes
that reality is consciousness. The measure of consciousness of anything is revealed by
the nature of consciousness that is revealed in it. Unconsciousness is the characteristic
matter in its grossest form. Evolution is from unconsciousness to knowledge. For Sri
Aurobindo, the world does not evolve of itself in a continuous process; it requires at
every stage of its evolution, Divine intervention in the shape of a direct descent of the
divine consciousness. This evolution assures man the infinite power of God in his 3
aspiration to rise higher and higher in the scale of evolution. Evolution is the ascent of
the physical nature to the Ultimate Reality. As the world has originated from
Sacchchidanada, so its goal is to return to  Him.  Evolution is the soul of his philosophy. 
In the process of the evolution of the mind, he gives importance to the body as it is the
centre of the manifested   personality in action and the base of spiritual life. The spirit
that is embodied in matter has to reveal itself, to wake the consciousness, during the
evolution to realize the divine within it. Evolution is the movement which is reverse to
the movement of involution or creation. Involution  is the descent of the spirit into
matter, life and mind, they feel the impulse to rise to their source, the spirit. The spirit
has descended into the lowest particle of matter. Therefore, matter seeks to evolve into
something higher than itself, the mind. Similarly there is a descent of the spirit into the
mind. 
The evolution of human mind or the consciousness assumes great importance in his
Integral Yoga. In the Life Divine , he asserts  that the utmost mission of the mind is to
train the obscure consciousness which has emerged out of the dark prison of Matter to
enlighten its blind instincts, random intuitions, vague perceptions till it shall become
capable of this greater light and this higher ascension. The outward consciousness and
the inward consciousness according to him are the two different levels of
consciousness. The outward consciousness is the one in which we live and the inner
consciousness begins to open when one does  Sadhana and when one begins to live
more in the inner being as it progresses. The inner consciousness that appeared a
mirage, an illusion becomes a reality. It begins to be the citadel of peace, light,  love and
happiness and it becomes closer to divinity. Thus when the mind ascends, passing
different levels of consciousness like the Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind,
Over Mind and when   it   reaches the Super Mind the divine power starts descending.
So the divinization   is a two way process, involving an ascent or evolution and descent 4
or involution.   Beyond the imperfect mind of man,  there is a consciousness that
possesses Truth, which as  the Veda conceives as the Truth consciousness or the
Supermind. This can be achieved by transcending the yogi’s mind. When the yogi
transcends his mind, the divine power starts descending, thus effecting the divinization
of the yogi, in turn the entire cosmos.  During sadhana, the psychic being opens all the
lower consciousness to the highest spiritual consciousness. Sri Aurobindo in his Integral
Yoga remarks:
            Moreover what is thought-knowledge in the Higher Mind becomes illumination
           in the illumined mind and the direct Intimate vision is the Intuition  but the                                                   
          Intuition  sees in flashes and combines through a constant play of light through  
          revelations and inspiration.  The Over Mind sees calmly, steadily in great masses…
          it creates and acts in the same way. (63)
He says that the object of the Yoga is to enter into and be possessed by the divine
presence and consciousness and to love the divine for the Divine’s sake alone to turn
our nature into the nature of the Divine. The principle of this yoga is a psychic and
spiritual transformation of the mind. The divine power can only be achieved by a total
dedication to the Divine truth which will lead to the realization of the spiritual truth.
  In On Himself he comments, “the one aim of his Yoga is an inner development by
which each one who follows it can in time discover  the one Self in all and evolve a
higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and a supramental consciousness
which will transform and divinize human nature”. (97)
It is the golden thread of his spiritual experience that runs through all his poems. His
poetic vision is integrated with his philosophy of  spiritual evolution. Nirmalya Ghatak
observes:
Sri Aurobindo, the poet has put his thoughts emerging from higher levels
                   in wonderful poetic expression. Especially within the short boundary 
                  of form in words he can express global conception of his spiritual experience   
                   without losing a drop of poetic vision and beauty,  living words and  musical 
                   rhythm and total harmony. Here lies the uniqueness as a poet despite his   
                   thoughts and experiences of yogic life. (67)
His poems are the expression of his deepest spiritual experience and they are rather
mantra emanating from his   soul.  His mystic poem “Thought the Paraclete” depicts a
series of vision that he sees intuitively. Sri Aurobindo remarks, “Thought the Paraclete is
a vision or revelation of an ascent through spiritual planes, but gives no names and no
photographic descriptions of the planes crossed” (275).
 His evolution of the consciousness is beautifully portrayed in this poem where “thought
the great winged Paraclete” (125-26) soars high passing different levels of mind to 
reach the heavenly abode of the Supreme truth. It also depicts the ascent of the
consciousness that flies high on the wings of thought, starting its flight from the
Inconscient to the Superconscient passing different levels of consciousness to merge in
the  Sacchidananda. Though this poem delineates the ascension of the  consciousness
“the Golden Light” beautifully portrays the descent of the divine truth in its luminosity
of knowledge. The golden light that comes down to the poet’s brain, throat, heart and
feet transforms the whole body of the poet, thus transforming his speech to a “tune
divine” and his heart becomes a temple ‘where thou  art /And all its passions point
towards only thee”. The golden light that comes down his feet makes his body “thy
playfield and thy seat”. 6
Sri Aurobindo uses the symbol ‘Fire’ to denote the Divine Light. The poet having ‘shed
the bloom of the earthly rose’ and ‘slain desire’  longs for the clasp of the ‘Bride of fire’.
The poet who has transcended from the physical plane, shedding the worldly passions
and desires, expresses his longing to be hugged by the Bride of the Fire to transform his
Self into the illuminating effulgence of the Divine light. 
          Voice of Infinity, sound in my heart,-
             Call of the One!
         Stamp there thy radiance, never to part,
             O living Sun.
His poem “Transformation" depicts how after ‘drinking the Infinite like a giant’s wine’ he
is no more tied to the senses and external nature.  The change that comes over him
transforms his body and spirit. His soul unbound by Time and Space widens to
measureless sight.
                 My body is God’s happy living tool
                 My spirit vast sun of deathless light.  (125) 
Only a realized soul can perceive the underlying unity behind all creations in the
Universe, the presence of the divine spark in everyone, the feeling of oneness in all. Sri
Aurobindo, a realized soul has liberated himself from the egoistic limitations, sees his
own self in all. “Cosmic consciousness” is the delineation of the poet’s perception of the
oneness in everything and an identification of his  self with the self in all. His self that
goes beyond the limits of time and space “wraps the wide world in his wider self”. In the
Synthesis of yoga he says, “that into which we merge is Sachchidananda”.
Sri Aurobindo’s poetic vision reaches its acme in his exquisitely finely woven epic 
Savitri. It encompasses the legend of Satyavan and Savitri in the Mahabharata in a new
light in which he visualizes the ascension of an aspiring human soul for the descension
of the divine consciousness.  He makes it a living symbol of an aspiring soul who tries to
know itself, to know the eternal truth   and of God.  Aswapathy’s intense desire to know
the divine consciousness effects the evolution of his mind, passing different levels of
consciousness. His spiritual journey from the Inconscient to the Superconscient enables
him to  enter into a divine spiritual world and struggles  to bring down to earth a new
creation, but finds it very difficult  and appeals to the divine mother. The goddess gives
him a boon that a human manifestation of the divine will be born on earth.
         One shall descend  and break the iron law
         Change Nature’s doom by the love spirit’s power. (346)
Sri Aurobindo envisages Savitri as the light of Truth dawned upon Earth to win over
Ignorance, Death and of her humanity. Thus, Savitri effects the divine transformation, by
bringing down the infinite power of the Divine consciousness and succeeds in winning
over Death by her indomitable faith and will.  After the long debate with death she
asserts the superiority of Truth to death and reveals herself, takes off the veil of  the
Inconscient Screen.
“The Incarnation thrust aside its veil
A  little figure in Infinity
Yet stood and seemed the Eternal’s very house,
As if the world’s centre was her very soul” (664)
She stands like the eternity’s very house”.
“Eternity looked into the eyes of Death
And darkness saw God’s living reality” (665) 8
Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri is an embodiment of fulfilling his Integral yoga: the involution of
the divine nature through the evolution of the earth nature to make the human life
divine. He turns a simple legend of conjugal fidelity into a memorable story of the
conquest of death for man, for humanity by the Grace descended on earth and in the
process he describes “his own spiritual odyssey and the saga of the Mother’s spiritual
adventure in working for the evolution of a new step in consciousness beyond mind, the
vijnana” (Pandit, 6.)  
                                                          Works Cited
Gokhak, Vinayak Krishna. Ed The Golden Treasury of Indo Anglian Poetry. New Delhi: Sahitya
Academy,1992 
Ghatak, Nirmalya. Sri Aurobindo The Poet and  Thinker. Calcutta: Kuntala Bhattacharya, 1988.
P andit, M.P. Introducing Savitri. Pondicherrry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram,1992.
Sri Aurobindo. The Future Poetry. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994. 
                  ---, The Life Divine. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1997.
                  ---, On Himself. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1989.
                  ---, The Synthesis of Yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1996.
                 ---, Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram,1970
             “The Cosmic Consciousness”. searchfortlight. 1999: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.26 Jan    
             2010 http://www. searchfortlight.org/index.html.
            “The Golden Light”. searchfortlight. 1999: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.26 Jan   
             2010 http://www. searchfortlight.org/index.html.
            “The Bride of Fire”. searchfortlight. 1999: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.26 Jan   
             2010 http://www. searchfortlight.org/index.html

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