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In this issue we present"Conundrums of the Indus Valleyand Sri Aurobindo", an astuteessay that examines the presentstate of scholarship and debatesin Indus Valley studies and relatesthis to Sri Aurobindo's views onthe matter, expressed almost acentury ago.Jugal Kishore Mukherjee, a notedwriter and a teacher in theAshram since 1949, passed awaylast December. His books covermany subjects, ranging frommetaphysical studies on fate,karma, and rebirth, to theprinciples and practice of SriAurobindo's Yoga, to an overviewof the tenets of integral education,to aspects of Sri Aurobindo'spoetry. Our first article takes alook at Jugal-da's diverse writings.A bovine unicorn, one of the most frequently
occurring symbols in Indus seals
Conundrums of the Indus Valleyand Sri Aurobindo 7
New Publications 17Ordering Information 19
ReviewsThe God-Touch and Other Lights
from Sri Aurobindo's Savitri 19The One Whom We Adore as the Mother 21Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis - II 20Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes 22
Jugal-daIn the quotidian existence of the majority of humanity,the study of metaphysics is an activity few indulgein. Yet metaphysics cannot be wished away entirely.All of us have beliefs. Indeed, we look at the worldalways through the prism of our beliefs. Scepticismis not enough to drive out a belief; we need somethingelse to replace it. Because man by his very nature isa thinking creature and searches for mentalexplanations, he has aneed to philosophise. Asa prominent philosopherhas pointed out, thedistrust of philosophy isitself a philosophy. Heidentifies this with aphilosophic school called Instrumentalism.Metaphysics in particular and philosophy in generalhave the modest function of organising our beliefs.
While it is a fact that Science has effected a unificationof mankind in a certain sense – by its universallyvalid methods of self-justification, procedures thattranscend the barriers of language, culture and social
milieu – the hearts and minds of mankind are stilldivided along diverse lines.
History has another tale to tell. From hoary antiquityto the modern technological civilisation, if there isone lingering preoccupation in the life of man, it isGod. No doubt, man’s everyday life revolves aroundmany other concerns: social life, family life, conjugal
life, work lifeand intellectuallife. However,the moment hetries to come togrips withhimself in the
totality of his spatio-temporal experience andexistence, ideas, feelings and impulses of a supra-mundane Something, Someone or Somewhatovertake him. This happens rather clumsily in thelives of ordinary men and women but takes deliberateand highly involved forms in the lives of exceptionalsouls—those who seek the spiritual reality in oneform or another.
The status as a sadhak-philosopher-scientist whichJugal-da achieves in these works is rare indeed butcould be indicative of the future type of mentality—plastic and many-sided but rigorous at the same time.
Jugal Kishore Mukherjee (1925–2009) was born in a remote village in Bengal. His father passedaway when he was only an infant, leaving his mother to raise her son under very difficultcircumstances. Jugal-da’s brilliance as a student was noticed by the village school teacher andhe was referred to a better school some distance away from his own village. He later went toCalcutta for his college education and there came in contact with the Sri Aurobindo Pathmandir inCollege Street, an important centre for the dissemination of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings.
In 1949, when only twenty-four, Jugal-da came and settled in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. TheMother assigned him work in the Ashram School, where he taught physics. Later, Jugal-da organisedthe Higher Course in the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education and was made the headof that section when its location was shifted to the present four-storied building on the seafrontwhich the Mother named Knowledge. He took detailed guidance from the Mother for running theHigher Course section.
In addition to his work at the School, Jugal-da wrote many books in English and Bengali and was afrequent contributor to several journals connected with Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy.
(With acknowledgements to Ranganath Raghavan’s article on Jugal-da which appeared in Sraddha, a journal from Kolkata)
Jugal-da was such a soul. Metaphysics was his firstlove. By educational training he was a man ofscience. The preoccupation of his adult life was thepursuit of God. A life-long bachelor, an author ofrare insight and thoroughness, an inspiring influencefor hundreds of his students, an efficient administratorof the Higher Course section of the Ashram School—this child of the Mother left his body on 15 December2009 at the age of 84.
Born Jugal Kishore Mukherjee on 9 September 1925in a village in Bengal, he lost his father in his infancy.His childhood and boyhood was spent inpenury, his mother being in great difficulty tomake ends meet. In spite of this, his brillianceas a student could not be obscured. Aftercompleting his master’s degree in physics hejoined the Ashram.
His was not a facile idealism; a keen student ofLife, he was aware of the “aching throb of life”.But he asserted, better than any other person Iknew, that this throb can be healed only by unionwith the Divine. My acquaintance with him wasbrief – during the last few years of his life – butwithin this short span of four or five years heexerted a profound influence on my inner life.In this short review of his writings I shall attemptto bring out aspects of his many-faceted mind.He was an intellectual of great integrity, blessedwith humility and dedication towards his taskin life. The Mother once wrote to him regardinghis studies, “Once you have started, you shouldcontinue, and the justification of the studies isto find in what has been revealed in the pastthe prophetic indication of what will be realisedin the future.” This indication of the Mother, displayedat the beginning of his best known work, The Destinyof the Body, impelled Jugal-da in most of hisintellectual outpourings.
In two of his major works, The Destiny of the Bodyand From Man Human to Man Divine, Jugal-da
brings to his task his illumined insight—at oncecombining the intuitive metaphysical element with thediscursively scientific, and basing both on the spiritualrevelations of his Guru, Sri Aurobindo. The first ofthese works deals with “the vision and the realisationin Sri Aurobindo’s yoga” that culminates in thetransformation of the body. The second, acompanion volume, generalises the scope of hisscholarly investigations to man as a species, tracinghis evolution from his humble origins through hispresent achievement and culminating in his futureevolutionary destiny. Both works have a futuristic
slant, something unique to Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, theaspirant of which belongs not to “past dawns but tonoons of the future”. Both examine the materialisticand the ascetic solutions to the problem of matter-life-mind, disengaging the elements of truth in them,while at the same time pointing to the limitations of aone-sided view of life and the world. Drawing upon
From left to right: Hemant Kapoor, Jugal-da, Nirod-da
the works of many savants, Jugal-da discusses theproblem of transformation from the individual andcollective perspectives. The scientific, thephilosophical and the spiritual points of view go handin hand in these two works. Jugal-da was entirelyfree from the disgust which an unpragmatic spiritualityhas towards the lower knowledge. Sri Aurobindoremarks in The Synthesis of Yoga that “Yoga doesnot either in its path or in its attainment exclude andthrow away the forms of the lower knowledge,except when it takes the shape of an extremeasceticism or a mysticism altogether intolerant of thisother divine mystery of the world-existence.” Thestatus as a sadhak-philosopher-scientist whichJugal-da achieves in these works is rare indeed butcould be indicative of the future type of mentality—plastic and many-sidedbut rigorous at the sametime.
It is the tendency ofaccredited experts in onefield of specialisation tolegislate with impunity inanother field of life. Thiscreates a huge confusionin the mind of the laymanwho, lured by the bigname of the expert, ends up swallowing hook, lineand sinker all that the person says. The simultaneousexpertise in more than one area of knowledge thatJugal-da commanded remedies this situation and hasproduced a work like From Man Human to ManDivine, whose real value has not yet been fullyappreciated. Of course, such writings demand afreedom from bias, open-mindedness and a modicumof intellectual development on the part of the reader.Penetrating analysis, an exhaustive enumeration anddiscussion of the possibilities involved in the issueand then the solution in the light of Sri Aurobindo—all this, presented in the concise diction of a man ofscience, was the hallmark of Jugal-da’s writings.
In Sri Aurobindo: TheSmiling Master Jugal-dabrings seriousness to thesubject of humour and relatesit to Sri Aurobindo. PDntaRasa is deemed to have thequality of Brahman and yogisare separated from ordinarybeings by the peace theyradiate. Sri Aurobindo too
had the ‘calm as of deep waters’. Yet on the surfaceof this ocean of peace was the frolic of the waves ofhumour, of hâsya, of Ânanda. This professorialvolume undertakes to bring out this aspect of SriAurobindo, an aspect unfamiliar to those to thosewho know him only through his scholarly works like
The Life Divine. I can’t resist quotinghere some words of Sri Aurobindo withwhich Jugal-da begins this book: “Senseof humour? It is the salt of existence.Without it the world would have goneutterly out of balance.”
In Sri Aurobindo Ashram: Its Role,Responsibility and Future Destiny—An Insider’s Personal View Jugal-dasurveys briefly the history of the Ashramand examines its current state of affairs,
dealing in detail with the misgivings people may have,the difficulties that arise in the Ashram’s group-lifeand many other issues pertaining to our collectivelife. Towards the end of the book he points out somedanger signals for its inmates, such as the effect offrequent absences from the Ashram, the urge toprocure personal money and a diminishing spirit ofKarmayoga. However, he ends the book on anoptimistic note and dismisses the alarmist view thatthe inmates are passing through great darkness. Beingan insider’s personal view, this book has a flavourwhich is different from that of a mere academicexercise. It has a healthy optimism but also remindsus that we have to tread warily. One quotation from
Penetrating analysis, anexhaustive enumeration of thepossibilities involved in the issueand then the solution in the lightof Sri Aurobindo—all this,presented in the concise dictionof a man of science, was thehallmark of Jugal-da’s writings.
the work nicely summarises its message: “for theSadhaks of Sri Aurobindo’s Path, although theindividual spiritual realisation remains the firstnecessity, it cannot be deemed complete until it isaccompanied by an outer realisation also in life;‘spiritual consciousness within but also spiritual lifewithout.’”
The Practice of Integral Yoga is a ready referencefor beginners and even relatively advanced seekerson the path. In this handbook Jugal-da attempts topresent in brief summary form the various aspectsof the Integral Yoga. When the Mother and SriAurobindo were present in their physical bodies itwas easy to get guidance. One had only to refer thematter to them directly and receive solutions to thevexatious problems that cropped up during the courseof sadhana. Now, the neophyte can only refer totheir writings. But their writings are comprised ofmany volumes and it is easy to founder in the oceanof their collected works. Jugal-da’s book is thusimmensely helpful and handy. It is true that the Motherwas not in favour of presenting Sri Aurobindo’sthought in a chewed and pre-digested manner, butconsidering the nobility of Jugal-da’s aim, thecomprehensiveness of his approach and the fact ofhis being a most sincere wayfarer on the road ofIntegral Yoga for several decades, this book neednot be criticised on that ground. I personally havefound it a useful companion.
The next book underconsideration is Mysteries ofDeath, Fate, Karma andRebirth. This book examinesthe ideas which see death asa process of life, as part of thesingle continuity called Life.Karma is the moralconsequence of our actionsexpressed through theautomatic action of universal
forces. But that which stands behind the process inus is the psychic being. The evolution ofconsciousness through the soul’s many earthlysojourns enables the psychic being to gain controland mastery over its instruments, the mind, the vitaland the physical, leading finally to a spiritualisationof the consciousness. Jugal-da helps us understandthat karma can be overcome by growth ofconsciousness, divine grace or spiritual intervention.He describes the occult journey of the soul and itsslumber of assimilation in the psychic world whichmay be of a long or short duration before it decidesto return to the earthly plane. In the end he dealswith “some knotty problems of rebirth” in a sort ofFAQ manner and provides answers from the writingsof the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Another work by Jugal-da is themonograph in book form titledThe Ascent of Sight in SriAurobindo’s ‘Savitri’. Seeing isbelieving, goes the proverb. In thespiritual realm sight takes another,an inward aspect. Savitri, thesupreme creation of Sri
Aurobindo, is, in his own words, “the record of aseeing.” The transformative power of spiritual sightis much greater than that of ordinary thought. In thisbook Jugal-da traces the “progression of sight fromlevel to greater level.” He looks at sight in theinconscient, the subconscient, the subliminal, theintermediate zone, the circumconscient and in manydifferent planes of consciousness and life, includingthe levels between mind and supermind. Heconcludes the monograph with the “future apotheosisof sight”, its supramentalisation.
Another monograph by Jugal-da is Sri Aurobindo’sPoetry and Sanskrit Rhetoric. This is a study ofthe ideational figures of speech, or figures of sense,in Sri Aurobindo’s poetry in the context of Sanskritpoetics. At the beginning of the book Jugal-da quotes
Bhatta Tauta: “One may have the vision, DarQana,and be only a seer qIi, but he becomes a poet, Kavi,only when he renders that vision into beautifullanguage, VarKana.” Sri Aurobindo was indeed amodern Kavi. Jugal-da’s study – to paraphrase hisown words – reveals the pleasant fact that almost allthe rhetorical embellishments as described by theAlankâra-PDstra are exemplified in Sri Aurobindo’spoetry.
The last book I shall discuss is Principles and Goalsof Integral Education. Sri Aurobindo’s IntegralYoga is not only an individual affair; it has a collectivedimension. And this naturally lends itself to the ideaof generalising the scope of the Yoga to include thereceptive among mankind at large. After SriAurobindo’s passing the Mother established the SriAurobindo International Centre of Education(SAICE) to further Sri Aurobindo’s vision of“preparing the future humanity to receive thesupramental light that will transform the elite of todayinto a new race manifesting upon the earth the newlight and force and life” (The Mother, 1951). AfterPavitra-da’s passing, Jugal-da almost single-handedly organised the SAICE Higher Coursesection, for which he had overall responsibility. Thisbook is the result of the many years that Jugal-daspent as a teacher and as the head of the HigherCourse. Herein the reader will find all the ideas ofthe Mother and Sri Aurobindo on education gleanedfrom their writings and from Jugal-da’s personalexperience as an educator. Its concise formatorganised with suitable headings make it an eminentlyreadable work.
Thus ends my appraisal of Jugal-da’s Englishwritings. If there is any flaw in his writings it is aminor one which has been pointed out in an earliernumber of the SABDA newsletter by Dr DebashishBanerji. That is, to quote Banerji, “an over-analyticaltemper —an occasional idiosyncrasy…which assertsits mental interference, though rarely, in the otherwise
BOOKS BY JUGAL KISHORE MUKHERJEE
Title Pages Price (Rs)
BENGALIMrityurahasya O Amaratvasiddhi 174 60Purnayoger Sadhan-Paddhati
(Pratham Khanda) 284 75(Dwitiya Khanda) 275 90
ENGLISHFrom Man Human to Man Divine 250 120Mysteries of Death, Fate, Karma
and Rebirth 174 80Principles and Goals of Integral Education:
as propounded by Sri Aurobindoand the Mother 144 75
Sri Aurobindo: The Smiling Master 441 150Sri Aurobindo Ashram: Its Role,
Responsibilty and Future Destiny 91 50Sri Aurobindo's Poetry and
Sanskrit Rhetoric 59 20The Ascent of Sight in
Sri Aurobindo's Savitri 92 70The Destiny of the Body 419 150The Practice of the Integral Yoga 348 160The Wonder That is K. D. Sethna 42 25
SPANISH (translations)La Práctica del Yoga Integral de Sri Aurobindo
(Tomo I) 227 650(Tomo II) 216 650
luminous clarity of unfoldment”. As a scholar, Jugal-da’s wideness, clarity and penetrating insight standout. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were the twinstars to whom his wagon was hitched. It was tofurther their Divine mission in humanity that he wrote.
— Hemant KapoorHemant Kapoor is a sadhak in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.He graduated from IIT Kanpur in 1994. In the Ashram heis associated with the Applied Science Group of SAICEand Mother India, a cultural monthly.
1 Irene U. Chambers, Michael S. Roth eds., ‘Veda and Vedanta’, 7th lecture in India: What Can It Teach Us?: ACourse of Lectures Delivered Before the University of Cambridge, World Treasures of the Library of Congress:Beginnings. Max Mueller’s dating was based in Biblical interpretations of world history which are consideredarbitrary and fanciful today.
Conundrums of the Indus Valley and Sri AurobindoDebashish Banerji
The Indus Valley or Indus-Saraswati civilizationis the earliest layer of civilization unearthed in
the Indian subcontinent. But its discovery hasintroduced a large number of conundrums into theunderstanding of Indian history. Who were thepeople who were responsible for this civilization?Why did it end? What is the relationship of itscreators with the inhabitants of modern India? Whatkind of language did they speak? What is therelationship of this language with the languages ofIndia or of the world? This and many otherquestions continue to puzzle scholars of the materialruins of this civilization. Identity politics has plaguedthe serious study of these problems from the verybeginning of their emergence and continues to infectits scholarship in ever more strident terms in presenttimes. In this essay, I try to provide an overview ofthe present state of scholarship and debates in IndusValley studies and relate this to Sri Aurobindo’s viewson the matter, expressed almost a century back inhis writings on the Veda serialized in the Arya.
Undoubtedly, among the oldest and primaryconundrums of the Indus civilization is the Aryanhomeland debate. This debate did not originate withthe archeological discovery of the Indus Valley.Rather, that discovery gave material body to thedebate, which originated in 19th c. Europeanphilology with the discovery of a family likenessbetween Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Persian by SirWilliam Jones (1746–94). The question this raisedabout the history of Indo-European languagemigration combined with 19th c. European interestsin racial validation of world conquest andcolonization led to the study of the Rig Veda tosupport the idea of an Aryan Invasion of the Indian
subcontinent around 1500 BCE. According to thistheory, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE)was spoken by people in Northern Europe, whomigrated southwards, occupying Europe, CentralAsia, West Asia and finally invading the Indiansubcontinent. The excavation of Indus Valley sitessuch as Harappa and Mohenjodaro began only inthe 1920s. From early excavation data, these cultureswere dated to have flourished in their mature phasefrom about 2700 BCE to about 1500 BCE. Thedisappearance (more properly disintegration) ofIndus Valley cultures around 1500 BCE seemed toalign itself conveniently with the date for the RigVeda suggested by Max Mueller (1823–1900)1, andthe archeology of Indus Valley sites was broughtinto the evidentiary fold of the Vedic homelanddebate.
Sri Aurobindo’s engagement with this debate wastaken up by him as an aside in his spiritual analysisof the Vedas as part of the Arya. Largely writtenprior to the Indus Valley excavations, its referencesare, in fact, to the debate as represented in theEuropean philological tradition, particularlyhistorical conjectures from the Rig Veda. SriAurobindo makes a number of important pointshere, which I will summarize. (The interested readermay refer to “The Origins of Aryan Speech”,included in the Sri Aurobindo Birth CentenaryLibrary edition of The Secret of the Veda, where theseobservations are contained):
1. Philology enters the academic mainstream asa science, and must respect the methods ofscience. This demands that the evidence notbe twisted or pushed beyond its boundariesof inference into domains of speculation
based on personal or social self-interest or theperpetuation of “generalizations and widelypopularized errors.”2
2. The Rig Veda as a source of historical analysisis suspect, since it is a spiritual and symbolicaltext and cannot be made to yield legitimateconclusions about the material world, pastor present.3
3. The language used by a people is no evidenceof racial or ethnic identification of thesepeople or of the migration of races orcultures.4
4. The Indian people are racially of a singlepredominant type with minor variations.5
5. Making cultural identifications based onphilology is suspect and at best uncertain andthus best avoided.6
6. The division of Indian languages into Aryanand Dravidian families may be questioned.7
7. The peoples of India may have migrated tothe subcontinent from elsewhere though verymuch earlier than the inception of the Vedas.Sri Aurobindo gives possible credence toTilak’s idea of an Arctic homeland for theVedic Indians and points to the fact thatTilak’s identification would make completesense if the Vedas were seen as naturalisticdescriptions.8
Since then, a number of developments have takenplace, some of which have brought clarity to theconundrums of the Indus Valley and the Aryanhomeland issues while some others have introducednew mysteries and debates.
Among the first of these, we must consider thedisastrous rise of the race idea and its levelingthrough World War II and its subsequent role inworld history. The pervasive racism of 19th c. Europeand its flirtations with the idea of the Chosen Racecame to a head and an end with this worldwidegenocide, which pushed modern civilization to thebrink of extinction. Following this, the use of theterm “Aryan” as a racial term was seen as fraught
with dangerous error and the term “Aryan” in “AryanInvasion Theory” was re-inflected to mean Aryan-or Indo-European-speaking people, i.e., it wasrecognized as increasingly necessary to separate thesenses of Aryan as race and language and to applythe term strictly and solely to refer to the Indo-European family of languages and their speakers.9
From the 1980s, the theory of invasion or migrationof Aryan language speakers into South Asia beganto be increasingly questioned. This arose largely aspart of a resurgence of Hindu nationalism, in whichthe sense of antiquity of the Hindu tradition andof India as the original homeland of Hindus becamedominant interests motivating the challenge to theAryan Invasion Theory. This sought support in thelack of archeological evidence for any invasion in
SSSSSrrrrri Ai Ai Ai Ai Auuuuurrrrrooooobbbbbiiiiinnnnndododododo’’’’’s cs cs cs cs cooooonnnnnttttteeeeennnnntttttiiiiiooooon tn tn tn tn thhhhhaaaaat lt lt lt lt laaaaannnnnggggguauauauauagggggeeeeeiiiiis ns ns ns ns no eo eo eo eo evvvvviiiiidededededennnnnccccce ofe ofe ofe ofe of p p p p phhhhhyyyyysssssiiiiicccccaaaaal ml ml ml ml miiiiigggggrrrrraaaaatttttiiiiiooooon in in in in is ns ns ns ns nooooowwwwwa wa wa wa wa weeeeellllll-el-el-el-el-essssstttttaaaaabbbbbllllliiiiissssshhhhheeeeed td td td td teeeeennnnneeeeet it it it it in tn tn tn tn thhhhhe ae ae ae ae arrrrrggggguuuuummmmmeeeeennnnntststststsfffffooooor tr tr tr tr thhhhhe se se se se sppppprrrrreeeeeaaaaad ofd ofd ofd ofd of I I I I Innnnndo-Edo-Edo-Edo-Edo-Euuuuurrrrrooooopppppeeeeeaaaaan ln ln ln ln laaaaannnnnggggguauauauauagggggeeeees.s.s.s.s.
2 Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda (Pondicherry:SABCL, 1972), Vol. 10, Part Four, pp. 551–52, 554, 561–62. (In The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, the article“The Origins of Aryan Speech” will appear in Vol. 14 VedicStudies with Writings on Philology, not yet published.)
3 Ibid. 217, 554.
4 Ibid. 553
5 Ibid. 553–54.
6 Ibid. 555
7 Ibid. 557–60
8 Ibid. 23–24, 122–23.
9 See for example Possehl, Gregory L., The Indus Age:The Beginnings (New Delhi: Oxford & IBH, 1999), p. 42.
Indus Valley sites after over fifty years followingthe original excavations.10 This was coupled withthe discovery of a large number of new sites bearingthe markers of the Indus civilization in extendedareas stretching east of the Indus riverine system asfar as Haryana and Delhi and south as far as Kutchin southern Gujarat. In the 1990s, satellitephotography established the existence of a dryriverbed running through Rajasthan from theHimalayas to the Arabian Sea in Gujarat with mostof the new sites clustered along its course. Knownas the Ghaggar-Hakra in theRajasthan area, this river was takento be identical with the riverSaraswati spoken of in the RigVeda and argued as evidence for aVedic identification of the IndusValley civilization. Moreover, itwas established that this river driedup around 1750 BCE in a processof headwater capture that mayhave begun around 1900 BCE.11
Given that the Saraswati is themost important river hymned inthe Rig Veda, which refers to it asthe best of all rivers and speaks of Vedic settlementson both its banks, those who argued for the IndusValley civilization to be a Vedic one pressed for a re-nomination of this civilization as the Indus-Saraswaticivilization, simultaneously implying the indigenousVedic origin of this civilization and the pushing backof the date of the Rig Veda to prior to 1900 BCE.
The lack of any evidence for an invasion, coupledwith geological data on seismic activity in theHimalayas in the 1990s, led to a new understandingof the disintegration of this civilization around 1500BCE. This was now seen to be largely the result ofthe repeated flooding of the Indus river system andthe drying up of the Saraswati, both rivers of primaryimportance to the settlements of this civilization.12
These revaluations have introduced two new debatesinto the Indus Valley mix: the contentions around
the dating of the Rig Vedaand, in a reversal ofdirection of migration,what has been known asthe Out of India Theory,i.e., that the Indus-Saraswati civilization wasa continuous Vedicculture stretching back toits pastoral beginnings(with its upper end at7000 BCE), centeringaround the SaraswatiRiver and spreading
westwards, eastwards and southwards, as well asmigrating “out of India” to Central Asia, West Asiaand Europe, thus accounting for the prevalence ofthe Indo-European language family across theseregions of the world.13 Though strongly argued byquasi-nationalistic proponents of an indigenousAryan idea, this view is not accepted at large by a
10 Padma Manian, “Harappans and Aryans: Old and New Perspectives of Ancient Indian History,” The HistoryTeacher 32:1 (November 1998), pp. 17–32. In this essay, Manian discusses the ideological factors involved in theAryan Invasion Theory and its challenge in the 1980s.
11 Radhakrishnan, B. P., & Merh, S. S., eds., Vedic Sarasvati—Evolutionary History of a Lost River of NorthwesternIndia (Bangalore: Geological Society of India, 1999).
12 Mughal, M. Rafique, “Recent Archaeological Research in the Cholistan Desert,” in Gregory L. Possehl ed.,Harappan Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective, pp. 85–95 (New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Company,1982), p. 94.
13 Edwin Bryant, The quest for the origins of Vedic culture: the Indo-Aryan migration debate (Oxford: Oxford UniversityPress, 2001), p. 6.
An example of an Indus Valley seal
world community of scholars, largely due to lackof archeological evidence. This arena of the debatecenters on the evidence of such items as fire-altars,the horse and the chariot—all items of primaryimportance in the Vedas. The presence of altars forfire rituals has been asserted in some early Indussites such as Lothal and Kalibangan, but the evidencehas not been conclusive. Similarly, there have beenrepeated attempts to prove the existence of the horsein Indus cultures, but without much convictionregarding its importance. The first incidence of thechariot among Indo-European speakers occurs inAndronovo cultures of the Russian steppes around2000 BCE and this isgenerally held to be anearly marker for Indo-European culture. Onthe other side, the itemsand symbols ofimportance in Induscultures often have noplace in the Vedas.Archeology and thegenetic studies of thefirst decade of the 21st
century (touched onlater) have reshaped themap of Indo-Europeanmigrations however,and the original hypothesis of a north Europeanorigin of Proto-Indo-European is seriously in doubttoday. Colin Renfrew (1937– ) and others haveposited the Anatolian region of central Asia orregions of the Russian steppes north of the BlackSea (the Kurgan hypothesis) as the origin of Proto-Indo-European and its spread is no longer related
primarily to physical invasions or migrations.14 SriAurobindo’s contention that language is no evidenceof physical migration is now a well- established tenetin the arguments for the spread of Indo-Europeanlanguages.
The other strong contention against the Indo-European origin of Indus civilization (andconsequently the Out of India Theory) is thelinguistic one. Linguists distinguish twoindependent language families in South Asia—Indo-European and Dravidian. We have noted that SriAurobindo had questioned this distinction. Apart
from his writings, we alsoknow that he was engagedin researching theselanguages and held ahypothesis relating to theseparation of Dravidian andVedic languages from acommon Indo-Europeanroot. But Sri Aurobindo’sresearches in this area seemto have been restricted tovocabulary while thelinguistic division into twolanguage families relies morestrongly on grammaticalstructure. In this regard, the
language spoken in the Indus Valley, based on thesigns depicted on seals, is still a matter of conjectureand fierce debate, divided into three positions—the traditional stand that it was a Dravidian language,the more recent Indo-centric stand aligned to theIndo-European origin theory that it was a Vediclanguage and the stand, proposed by some
14 J.P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth (London: Thames & Hudson,1991), p. 185. Renfrew’s hypothesis places the Proto-Indo-European language origin in Anatolia (eastern Turkey/Iran), though contemporary mainstream preference is for the Kurgan hypothesis, based on linguistic, archeologicaland genetic information.
15 Farmer, Sproat and Witzel have argued that the signs on seals do not represent a language. See Steve Farmer,Richard Sproat & Michael Witzel. “The collapse of the Indus script thesis: The myth of a literate Harappan Civilization.”Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 2004. 11 (2): pp. 19–57. This argument has been widely criticized and helduntenable by Iravatham Mahadevan, Asko Parpola and many others on both Aryan and Dravidian sides of thedecipherment divide.
16 The Russian scholar Yuri Knorozov led a team of computer analysts who surmised that the symbols represent alogosyllabic script and suggested an underlying Dravidian language as the most likely linguistic substrate. Thisattempt was succeeded by a Finnish team led by Asko Parpola who also arrived at structural identification of thescript as Dravidian.
17 Bhadriraju Krishnamurti, The Dravidian Languages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 40–41;Kamil Zvelebil, “Dravidian languages.” Encyclopædia Britannica 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 Jun.2008; George Erdosy, The Indo-Aryans of ancient South Asia: Language, material culture and ethnicity (Berlin:Walter de Gruyter, 1995), p. 18.
19 How do the symbol patterns translate into grammar? What phonological, syntactical or grammatical laws do theyfollow? How are these related to Dravidian or Indo-European languages? Most of the decipherments in questionhere don’t ask such questions because they start with an assumption that the script translates unequivocally intoVedic Sanskrit.
20 See Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1959). The falsifiability criterion forhypotheses implies that all assumptions made in a hypothesis should lend themselves to tests by which they couldbe disproved.
contemporary scholars, that the script does nottranslate to any language.15 Of these, contemporarymainstream scholars tend to favor the Dravidianhypothesis, based on computer-based patternmatching studies relating sign distributions togrammatical features of sentence formation andsymbology in Dravidian languages.16 This issupported by the presence of a long-standing cultureof Dravidian speakers in regions of southwestPakistan and Afghanistan (Brahui) and the fact thatthe Rig Veda demonstrates Dravidian phonologicaland grammatical features not present in any otherIndo-European language.17
In this regard, it may be of significance to note thatthe Vedas are (and have been) unanimously held tohave originated in India. This has never been an issuein these debates, particularly due to the recognitionof Dravidian modification of Indo-European inVedic Sanskrit. Linguists have noted that whileDravidian languages in India (Tamil, Telegu,Malayalam, Kannada and others) show importations
mostly in vocabulary and little modification ingrammatical structure from the Indo-Europeanfamily, Indo-Aryan, as represented in Vedic Sanskrit,demonstrates structural modifications fromDravidian grammatical features. This has causedmany linguists to conclude that Vedic Sanskrit hasa Dravidian substratum, something which pointsto the assimilation of Indo-European language intoa Dravidian-speaking base.18
Of late, there have been a number of attempts atthe decipherment of the script assuming it to berepresentative of a Vedic or proto-Vedic language.The authors of these attempts have ranged fromestablished scholars in the field such as S. R. Rao toamateurs like Jha and Rajaram or Hasenpflug. Theproblem with these decipherments lies in theirinability to address or resolve the grammaticalissue.19 Moreover, these theories lack the propertyof disprovability, an essential necessity for scientifichypotheses.20 Thus, they end up providing variantinterpretations which stand alone as independent
possibilities only. They also don’t match up withthe archeological data in terms of the materialremains of the Indus civilization.21 In the case ofJha and Rajaram, this is further complicated by thelack of vowels in their decipherment22 and theirarbitrary left-to-right and right-to-left readings,when it has beenfirmly established thatseal inscriptions werewritten from right-to-left.23
Among those whoclaim to have followedSri Aurobindo’s lead intheir interpretations,one may consider inpassing K. D. Sethna, a long-term resident of theSri Aurobindo Ashram. Sethna has approachedseveral of the conundrums of the Indus Valley intwo books on the subject.24 While Sethna’sarguments show an extraordinary awareness of manydetails pertaining to research in the field, and hisviews against the Aryan Invasion Theory have beenamply validated, his attempts to push the dating ofthe Vedas back to 7000 BCE show either anignorance of the present links making up thearcheological and linguistic history of ancient Eurasiaor a pushing of evidence into the mists ofspeculation, exactly what Sri Aurobindo warnsagainst. To claim that Indo-Aryan speakers pre-datedthe inhabitants of the Indus Valley because karpasa
is not mentioned in Vedic literature while thepresence of cotton is well attested to in Indus-Saraswati sites is to fall into the fallacy of culturalconclusions based on philology applied to a spiritualtext, quite against Sri Aurobindo’s caveat. Therecould be a number of reasons, having little to do
with materialchronology, to explainthe absence of a term ina symbolic and spiritualbody of literature.Again, even if the horseis present in Indus-Saraswati culture, toclaim that it has anyplace of prominenceeven close to its
primacy in the Vedas is a stretch of the imagination.Problems of this nature mar a copious output whichcould otherwise have been of greater significance inearly South Asian scholarship.
Another aspect of the argument has come intoprominence in the last ten years. These are geneticstudies relating to ancestry. Though Sri Aurobindo’sobservation regarding the common ancestry ofIndian people had to some extent been confirmedby physical anthropology, which concluded fromskeletal studies of Indus grave cultures that thephysical characteristics of the people of thiscivilization were hardly different from those ofmodern India, such studies were not held to be
21 Horses, cows or chariots are of no prominence in the Indus archeological archive, nor are a number of prominentsymbols in Indus culture visible in Vedic literature. A good example of the latter is the bovine unicorn, whichconstitutes the most frequently occurring symbol in Indus seals.
22 Jha and Rajaram claim that the Indus script has no differentiation of vowel signs and introduce arbitrary vowelsin their proposed decipherments ending up with recognizable Sanskrit terms.
23 Right-to-left directionality in writing was established by B. B. Lal, past Director General, Archaeology Survey ofIndia, in 1966.
24 Sethna, K. D., Karpasa in Prehistoric India: A Chronological and Cultural Clue (New Delhi: Biblia Impex, 1984).Sethna, K. D., The Problem of Aryan Origins (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 2nd ed,1992).
SSSSStttttuuuuudddddiiiiieeeees hs hs hs hs haaaaavvvvve ie ie ie ie innnnncrcrcrcrcreeeeeaaaaasssssiiiiinnnnngggggllllly ey ey ey ey essssstttttaaaaabbbbbllllliiiiissssshhhhheeeeed td td td td thhhhhaaaaatttttttttthhhhheeeeerrrrre we we we we weeeeerrrrre ne ne ne ne no so so so so siiiiigggggnnnnniiiiifffffiiiiicccccaaaaannnnnt at at at at addddddddddiiiiitttttiiiiiooooonnnnns ts ts ts ts to to to to to thhhhheeeeeSSSSSooooouuuuuttttth Ah Ah Ah Ah Asssssiiiiiaaaaan gn gn gn gn geeeeennnnne pe pe pe pe pooooooooool sl sl sl sl siiiiinnnnnccccce te te te te thhhhhe le le le le laaaaarrrrrggggge-sce-sce-sce-sce-scaaaaallllleeeeeppppplllllaaaaannnnneeeeetttttaaaaarrrrry my my my my miiiiigggggrrrrraaaaatttttiiiiiooooonnnnns 50,000 os 50,000 os 50,000 os 50,000 os 50,000 or mr mr mr mr mooooorrrrre ye ye ye ye yeeeeeaaaaarrrrrsssssaaaaagggggooooo..... T T T T Thhhhhiiiiis hs hs hs hs haaaaas rs rs rs rs reeeeennnnndedededederrrrreeeeed nd nd nd nd nuuuuugggggaaaaatttttooooorrrrry by by by by booooottttth th th th th thhhhheeeeeIIIIInnnnnvvvvvaaaaasssssiiiiiooooon an an an an annnnnd Id Id Id Id Immmmmmmmmmiiiiigggggrrrrraaaaatttttiiiiiooooon tn tn tn tn thhhhheeeeeooooorrrrriiiiieeeees ws ws ws ws whhhhheeeeen sn sn sn sn seeeeeeeeeennnnniiiiin tn tn tn tn teeeeerrrrrmmmmms ofs ofs ofs ofs of p p p p pooooopppppuuuuulllllaaaaatttttiiiiiooooon in in in in innnnnffffflllllux.ux.ux.ux.ux.
definitive in the Aryan Invasion debates.25 Thepressing of the arguments against the InvasionTheory resulted in its being largely discarded by thelate 1980s, but themainstream scholarly viewreplaced this with theMigration Theory. AIT, asthe Aryan Invasion Theoryhad been dubbed, retainedits initials in the academy,being renominated as AryanImmigration Theory.According to this theory,large-scale migrations ofIndo-European speakers into the subcontinentaround the time of seismic changes in the Indus-Saraswati Valley led to the development of Vedicculture and a southward and eastward migration ofthe populations of the Indus-Saraswati civilization.From the first decade of the 21st century, geneticancestry studies reached a high degree of predictivereliability and have been used to study both the large-scale migrations of human populations in theirsettlement of the earth as well as more focusedregional studies of ancestral history throughmigrations or other forms of genetic interbreeding.These studies have increasingly established that there
were no significant additions to the South Asiangene pool since the large-scale planetary migrations50,000 or more years ago.26 This has rendered
nugatory both the Invasion andImmigration theories when seen interms of population influx.
On the one hand, this has providedadded fuel to the Out of Indiatheorists regarding the origin of Indo-European speakers and languages.On the other, it has enabled theorieswhich are more closely aligned withSri Aurobindo’s tenet that there is no
need to see any direct relationship between languagechange and physical movements of humanpopulations. These theories posit either small-scaleimmigrations of Indo-European speakers fromCentral Asia over a long period of time and culturalfactors leading to the growth in prominence oflinguistic features or settlements of bilingualismdeveloping in the Himalayan headlands due to tradebetween indigenous populations and Indo-Europeanspeakers of Central Asia.27 Recent discoveries of lateHarappan (c. 1900 BCE) continuity in the Swatand “Cemetery H” regions of the headwaters of theIndus, Saraswati and Yamuna riverine systems (now
25 Comparative skeletal studies by Kennedy and others since 1984 have suggested a continuity of physical type innorthwest India. A more recent study with similar conclusions is to be found in B. E. Hemphill, J. R. Lukacs and K.A. R. Kennedy, “Biological adaptions and affinities of the Bronze Age Harappans.” Harappa Excavations 1986–1990. (ed. R. Meadow, 1991): pp. 137–82.
26 There is some debate on the genetic front, but this is restricted between the possibilities that there has been long-term continuity of the gene pool in South Asia and that there was some minor Central Asian input in the Bronze Age.Sanghamitra Sengupta et al., “Polarity and temporality of high resolution Y-chromosome distributions in Indiaidentify both indigenous and exogenous expansions and reveal minor genetic influence of Central Asian pastoralists,”American Journal of Human Genetics volume 78, (Feb 2006), pp. 201–21. Sahoo Sangamitra and V. K. Kashyap, “Aprehistory of Indian Y chromosomes: evaluating demic diffusion scenarios.” Proceedings at National Academy ofSciences.103 (Jan 24):843:848 (January 24, 2006). Kivisild et al., “The Genetics of Language and Farming Spreadin India” in Peter Bellwood & Colin Renfrew eds., Examining the farming/language dispersal hypothesis, (McDonaldInstitute of Monographs, 2003), pp. 215–22.
27 An interesting and plausible nine-stage acculturation model of this kind has been proposed recently by Sujay RaoMandavilli in S. R. Mandavilli. “Syncretism and Acculturation in Ancient India: A New Nine Phase Acculturation ModelExplaining the Process of Transfer of Power from the Harappans to the Indo-Aryans,” ICFAI University Journal ofHistory and Culture, Vol. III, No. 1, (January 2009) pp. 7–79.
in northern borderlands of Pakistan/Afghanistan),along with archeological pointers to Indo-Europeanculture (cremation, pottery links with Central Asiansettlements) have caused several scholars to posit atransition to Vedic language and cultural prominenceamong Himalayan populations of the Indus-Saraswati civilization from this period.28
Archeological presence of Indus-Saraswati cultureas far north as Shortugai on the Oxus River (Amu-darya) in Northern Afghanistan from around 2000BCE has established the fact of Indus tradingcolonies proximal to Indo-European-speakingCentral Asian settlements. It isfairly certain that the people ofthese regions shared lapis lazuliand carnelian mines and tradedin gold, copper, tin and othergoods with Indo-Europeanspeakers from what is knownas the Bactria-MargianaArcheological Complex.29 Aperiod of bilingualism due tosuch trading settlements or jointworking situations could verywell have led to language andculture assimilation from as early as 2000 BCE.Periods of massive seismic activity such as wereexperienced in the northern Indus-Saraswati regionsin the late Harappan period (1900–1500 BCE) arelikely to have caused social instability leading tofactors of ideological and cultural change and the
dominance of the Indo-Aryan language.Continuities in certain cultural ideas, terms and eventhe importance of the Saraswati River are notimprobable to such a scenario. The spread of Vedicculture eastwards (towards Haryana and theGangetic plains) and southwards (along the riverSaraswati and clustering around the Rann of Kutchin Gujarat) seems to correspond to this lateHarappan phase.30
In conclusion, we must invoke Sri Aurobindo’scaution to the philologists almost a hundred years
ago. In a scientific investigation,mental imagination, howeverpleasing it may be to a sense ofchauvinistic identity, is nosubstitute for evidence. Many ofthe mysteries surrounding theIndus-Saraswati civilization standunveiled today, but many remainand have even multiplied. Furtherconclusive solutions wait on moreevidence. Of these, the history andrelationship of Aryan and Dravidianlanguages among Indian speakers,
which Sri Aurobindo was in the process ofresearching, could yield some important answers.Beyond this, the definitive decipherment of theIndus script could also help to settle many debates.Archeologically, the majority of the settlementsalong the dry bed of the river Saraswati remain
28 Cemetery H was excavated by Vats in 1940 and held in early Indus scholarship (e.g. Wheeler in 1947) to be proofof an Aryan Invasion. More recent scholarship has failed to find any intrusive evidence or genetic change. SeeJonathan Mark Kenoyer, “Urban Process in the Indus Tradition: A preliminary model from Harappa” in Meadow, R. H.(ed.). Harappa Excavations 1986–1990: A multidisciplinary approach to Third Millennium urbanism (Madison, WI:Prehistory Press, 1991), pp. 29–60.
29 Shortugai eventually became part of the BMAC before the latter’s disappearance around 1700 BCE. See JaneMcIntosh, The Ancient Indus Valleys: New Perspectives (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008), pp. 97, 196.
30 Settlements along the Saraswati riverbed include artifacts datable to the mature Harappan phase (c. 2300 BCE)but show Vedic cultural inclusions in the northern regions (close to the origins of the Indus/Saraswati/Yamunasystems, where Saraswati headwater capture was less significant for water loss) and in settlements spreadingfurther to the east and clustering close to the sea in the Gujarat area from c. 1900 BCE. At the same time increasingdesertification of the river valley seems to have led to the migration of its populations.
Examples of Indus script
unexcavated. The highly populated regions of theGangetic plains have posed great difficulties inarcheological explorations and undoubtedly hideimportant secrets related to Bronze Age and IronAge India. Further exploration in the headlands ofthe Himalayas as well as within the Indiansubcontinent could thus yield valuable clues. Tillthen, the debates surrounding the Indus-Saraswaticivilization, particularly its identity issues, will
Critical errors in the European philologicaltraditionThe first error committed by the philologists after theirmomentous discovery of the Sanskrit tongue, was toexaggerate the importance of their first superficialdiscoveries.…When Max Müller trumpeted forth tothe world in his attractive studies the greatrapprochement, pitâ, pater, pater, vater, father, he waspreparing the bankruptcy of the new science; he wasleading it away from the truer clues, the wider vistasthat lay behind. The most extraordinary and imposinglyunsubstantial structures were reared on the narrowbasis of that unfortunate formula. First, there was theelaborate division of civilised humanity into the Aryan,Semitic, Dravidian and Turanean races, based uponthe philological classification of the ancient and modernlanguages. More sensible and careful reflection hasshown us that community of language is no proof ofcommunity of blood or ethnological identity; the Frenchare not a Latin race because they speak a corrupt andnasalised Latin, nor the Bulgars Slavs in blood becausethe Urgo-Finnish races have been wholly Slavonicisedin civilisation and language. Scientific researches ofanother kind have confirmed this useful and timelynegation. The philologists have, for instance, split up,on the strength of linguistic differences, the Indiannationality into the northern Aryan race and the southernDravidian, but sound observation shows a singlephysical type with minor variations pervading the wholeof India from Cape Comorin to Afghanistan. Language
is therefore discredited as an ethnological factor. Theraces of India may be all pure Dravidians, if indeedsuch an entity as a Dravidian race exists or ever existed,or they may be pure Aryans, if indeed such an entity asan Aryan race exists or ever existed, or they may be amixed race with one predominant strain, but in anycase the linguistic division of the tongues of India intothe Sanskritic and the Tamilic counts for nothing inthat problem. Yet so great is the force of attractivegeneralisations and widely popularised errors that allthe world goes on perpetuating the blunder talking ofthe Indo-European races, claiming or disclaiming Aryankinship and building on that basis of falsehood the mostfar-reaching political, social or pseudo-scientificconclusions.
Conjectural and unreliable interpretation of theVedasBut if language is no sound factor of ethnologicalresearch, it may be put forward as a proof of commoncivilisation and used as a useful and reliable guide tothe phenomena of early civilisations. Enormous, mostingenious, most painstaking have been the efforts toextract from the meanings of words a picture of theearly Aryan civilisation previous to the dispersion oftheir tribes. Vedic scholarship has built upon thisconjectural science of philology, upon the brilliantlyingenious and attractive but wholly conjectural andunreliable interpretation of the Vedas, a remarkable,
remain unresolved, though it is hoped they willcontinue to be engaged —with less acrimony thanat present.
Debashish Banerji has a doctorate in Art History, andteaches courses in South Asian, East Asian, and IslamicArt History in Los Angeles, USA. He also teaches onlinecourses in Indian Philosophy and is Director of theInternational Centre for Integral Studies at New Delhi.
Excerpt from “The Origins of Aryan Speech” by Sri Aurobindo [headings by the editor]:
minute and captivating picture of an early half-savageAryan civilisation in India. How much value can weattach to these dazzling structures? None, for they haveno assured scientific basis. They may be true and last,they may be partly true yet have to be seriously modified,they may be entirely false and no trace of them be leftin the ultimate conclusion of human knowledge on thesubject; we have no means of determining betweenthese three possibilities. The now settled rendering ofVeda which reigns hitherto because it has never beencritically and minutely examined, is sure before long tobe powerfully attacked and questioned. One thing maybe confidently expected that even if India was everinvaded, colonised or civilised by northern worshippersof Sun and Fire, yet the picture of that invasion richlypainted by philological scholarship from the Rig-vedawill prove to be a modern legend and not ancient history,and even if a half-savage Aryan civilisation existed inIndia in early times, the astonishingly elaborate moderndescriptions of Vedic India will turn out a philologicalmirage and phantasmagoria.
Do common terms imply a common civilisation?The wider question of an early Aryan civilisation mustequally be postponed till we have sounder materials.The present theory is wholly illusory; for it assumesthat common terms imply a common civilisation, anassumption which sins both by excess and by defect.It sins by excess; it cannot be argued, for instance,that because the Romans and Indians have a commonterm for a particular utensil, therefore that utensil waspossessed by their ancestors in common previous totheir separation. We must know first the history of thecontact between the ancestors of the two races; wemust be sure that the extant Roman word did notreplace an original Latin term not possessed by theIndians; we must be sure that the Romans did notreceive the term by transmission from Greek or Celtwithout ever having had any identity, connection orcontact with our Aryan forefathers; we must be proofagainst many other possible solutions about whichphilology can give us no guarantee either negative oraffirmative. The Indian suraOga, a tunnel, is supposedto be the Greek surinx. We cannot, therefore, arguethat the Greeks and Indians possessed the commonart of tunnel-making before their dispersion or eventhat the Indians who borrowed the word from Greece,
never knew what an underground excavation might betill they learned it from Macedonian engineers. TheBengali term for telescope is durbîn, a word not ofEuropean origin. We cannot conclude that the Bengalishad invented the telescope independently before theircontact with the Europeans. Yet on the principles bywhich the philologists seem to be guided in theirconjectural restorations of vanished cultures, these areprecisely the conclusions at which we should arrive.Here we have a knowledge of the historical facts tocorrect our speculations; but the prehistoric ages arenot similarly defended. Historical data are entirelywanting and we are left at the mercy of words andtheir misleading indications. But a little reflection onthe vicissitudes of languages and specially some studyof the peculiar linguistic phenomena created in Indiaby the impact of the English tongue on our literaryvernaculars, the first rush with which English wordsattempted to oust, in conversation and letter-writing,even common indigenous terms in their own favourand the reaction by which the vernaculars are nowfinding new Sanskritic terms to express the novelconcepts introduced by the Europeans, will besufficient to convince any thoughtful mind how rashare the premises of these philological culture-restorersand how excessive and precarious their conclusions.Nor do they sin by excess alone, but by defect also.They consistently ignore the patent fact that inprehistoric and preliterary times the vocabularies ofprimitive languages must have varied from century tocentury to an extent of which we with our ideas oflanguage drawn from the classical and modern literarytongues can form little conception. It is, I believe, anestablished fact of anthropology that many savagetongues change their vocabulary almost from generationto generation. It is, therefore, perfectly possible thatthe implements of civilisation and culture ideas forwhich no two Aryan tongues have a common termmay yet have been common property before theirdispersion; since each of them may have rejected afterthat dispersion the original common term for aneologism of its own manufacture. It is the preservationof common terms and not their disappearance that isthe miracle of language.
The Mother on Japan— Compiled from the works ofthe MotherPublisher: PRISMA, Auroville63 pp, Rs 150Size: 15x21 cmBinding: Soft Cover
Compiled from the Mother’stalks, messages, and letters as wellas from her Prayers andMeditations, this work focuses onthe Mother’s experiences of Japan,
where she lived from 1916 until 1920. It begins with along introduction extracted from Georges Van Vrekhem’sbook The Mother: The Story of Her Life and includesphotographs of the Mother in Japan and her paintingsfrom that period. In these selections the Mother describesher impressions of Japan, Japanese art, and the childrenof Japan, and comments on the terrible flu that devastatedJapan in 1919.
The One Whom We Adore as the Mother (DVD)— Prepared by Sri Aurobindo Archives & ResearchLibraryPublisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram PublicationDepartment, PondicherryISBN 978-81-7058-951-8, Rs 250Size: 14x22 cmBinding: CD
This DVD presentation on the Mother’s life and workcombines both familiar and lesser-known photographswith a narration that features passages from Sri Aurobindoand the Mother’s writings, along with selections from thereminiscences of several of their early disciples. Narratedby multiple voices and enhanced by selections fromSunil’s music, it recounts the Mother’s early life in Paris,traces her journeys to Algeria, Japan, and her arrival inPondicherry, and highlights her work in developing theAshram and in founding the Sri Aurobindo InternationalCentre of Education and Auroville. This audiovisualpresentation concludes with some recordings of theMother’s voice and video clips of Terrace Darshans.
See review on page 21
Reprints from All India Magazine booklets— Compiled from the writings ofSri Aurobindo and the MotherPublisher: Sri Aurobindo Society,PondicherryNew Birth32 pp, ISBN 978-81-7060-287-3,Rs 30Realisation of the Divine40 pp, ISBN 978-81-7060-286-6,Rs 30The Inner Attitude: Everythingdepends upon it32 pp, ISBN 978-81-7060-288-0, Rs 30Receptivity on Birthdays32 pp, ISBN 978-81-7060-290-3, Rs 30
RUSSIANIstorii Liubvi. Izbrannye p'esy: Persei-osvoboditel' iEric— Sri AurobindoPublisher: Fund for the Integral Human Development"Savitri", Russia396 pp, ISBN 978-5-904681-05-0, Rs 350Size: 12x20 cmBinding: Soft Cover
Two dramatic romances by Sri Aurobindo, Perseus theDeliverer and Eric, are presented in this volume for thefirst time in a Russian translation. Both plays are deeplysymbolic stories of how a sublime love triumphs overadverse obstacles, bringing a sense of oneness andharmony into the life of the entire society.
Rishi— Sri Aurobindo, perevod i kommentarii DmitriyaMelgunovaPublisher: Fund for the Integral Human Development"Savitri", Russia95 pp, ISBN 978-5-91258-115-1, Rs 130Size: 11x16 cmBinding: Soft Cover
"The Rishi" is one of the most powerful poetical worksof Sri Aurobindo. Composed in the form of a dialoguebetween the legendary Aryan king Manu and the Rishi ofthe Northern Pole, this revelatory poem gives acomprehensive view of ancient Vedic knowledge and
the true Aryan spirituality, integral in its vision of bothtranscending life and embracing it. The book is bilingual,with extensive commentaries by the translator, includingmany quotations from other works of Sri Aurobindo.
Priroda i Evolucya Dushi— Iz rabot Sri Aurobindo i MateriPublisher: Universitet IntegralnoiYogi, Pondicherry254 pp, Rs 150Size: 14x22 cmBinding: Soft Cover
This compilation from thewritings of Sri Aurobindo and theMother deals with many topicsconcerning the psychic being: itsplace in the human being and its nature and mission, thegrowth and development of the psychic being and itsrole in the evolution, the psychic transformation, the
psychic being and the sadhana, lifeafter death, and reincarnation.These passages reveal theimportance of knowing the natureof our soul, which shares in theinalienable delight of the Divine,and towards which we are growingthrough our ignorance.
GERMANSpirituelle Übungen : für dietägliche Praxis — Compiled
from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the MotherISBN 978-3-941075-01-6 Rs 200
ITALIANRodogune (Inglese/Italiano) : tragedia in cinque atti
— Sri Aurobindo Rs 1500ISBN 978-88-901049-7-8
Il fiore fragrante di Cambridge : Sri Aurobindo e ilsuo contributo all'umanità— Gopal Bhattacharya Rs 70
Poesie (Inglese/Italiano) — Sri Aurobindo Rs 1500ISBN 978-88-901049-8-5
JAPANESEThe Life Divine — Sri Aurobindo hc Rs 1200
SPANISHComentarios sobre el Dhammapada — The Mother
ISBN 978-84-936142-3-2 Rs 900
BENGALISri Aurobindo o Deshbandhu Chittaranjan
— Madhabi Mitra Rs 80Kabi Nishikanto (1909 - 2009) : Shatabarsher
Shraddharghya — Edited by Supriyo BhattacharyaRs 60
GUJARATISavitri Sarsamhita — Pujalal Rs 160
ISBN 978-81-7058-881-8Premmurti Shri Pujalal — Kirit Thakkar hc Rs 120
— Shyamsundar Jhunjhunwala Rs 50
SANSKRITChhandolankarparichayah— Dr NarendraPublisher: Sanskrit Karyalaya,Pondicherry31 pp, ISBN 978-81-7058-938-9,Rs 12Size: 12x18 cmBinding: Soft Cover
Keeping in mind the significantrole of metres (chhanda) andfigures of speech (alankara) in theSanskrit language, this introductory volume presentssome twenty popular metres and seven well-known figuresof speech. The citations are simple and can be easilycommitted to memory. Meanings of difficult words areprovided at the end of the book.
Panineeyapraveshah— Dr NarendraPublisher: Sanskrit Karyalaya,Pondicherry63 pp, ISBN 978-81-7058-937-2,Rs 20Size: 12x18 cmBinding: Soft Cover
Written in very simplelanguage, this book is anintroduction to Panini by the
author who, being conscious of his own difficulties inlearning this language, has devised an easy and gradualapproach. He leads the reader step by step around themore complex aspects of the grammar, thus minimisingthe difficulty for the modern reader.
SABDA, Sri Aurobindo Ashram,Pondicherry 605 002, India
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The God-Touch and Other Lights from SriAurobindo's Savitri
— Edited by A. S. DalalPublisher: Sri AurobindoAshram PublicationDepartment, Pondicherry139 pp., Rs 65ISBN: 978-81-7058-898-6Size: 12x18 cmBinding: Soft Cover
The book under review is anotherof the many valuablecompilations made by Dr A. S.
Dalal from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.But for the first time here is a compilation from the poeticalworks of Sri Aurobindo, and that too from his magnumopus Savitri. Those who love Savitri should certainly bedelighted to go through this book.
Savitri is no ordinary poem; it is Sri Aurobindo’s newconcept of poetry written from his Overmind aesthesis.According to Raymond Piper, who is quoted in the book’sForeword, the epic is “perhaps the most powerful artisticwork in the world for expanding man’s mind towards theabsolute”. Rightly has he called Savitri “the mostcomprehensive, integrated, beautiful and perfect cosmicpoem ever composed”. The poem describes “all Time’shuge curve” rising from the viewless abysm of theInconscient into the equally viewless summit of theSuperconscient—”Climbing with foam-maned waves tothe Supreme” (Savitri, 98). To comprehend such a work ofalmost 24,000 lines of high poetry, poetically as well asthematically, may prove not only difficult but almostimpossible for the general reader.
The title of the compilation and the passages selectedtherein follow, more or less, in line with the theme of Savitri.The title touches on two cardinal aspects of SriAurobindo’s Integral Yoga. In his explanation of themystery of terrestrial creation Sri Aurobindo puts forward“the cardinal fact of a spiritual evolution as the meaningof our existence here”. To him the truth of evolution lies inthe evolution of consciousness. Evolution “carries with itin its intrinsic sense, in the idea at its root the necessity ofa previous involution…all that evolves already existedinvolved, passive or otherwise active, but in either caseconcealed from us in the shell of material Nature. The Spirit
TELUGUSavitri — Sri Aurobindo hc Rs 400
ISBN 978-93-80409-00-9Adhyatmika Viluvalato Adhunika Vidya
— K. Bhaskara Rao Rs 50Savitri (Sankshipta Parichayamu)
— K. Bhaskara Rao Rs 50Sri Aravindula Vichara Dhara
— K. Bhaskara Rao, K. Appa Rao Rs 40Sri Mataravindamu
— Edited by J. Surendracharyulu Rs 40
which manifests itself here in a body, must be involvedfrom the beginning in the whole of matter and in everyknot, formation and particle of matter; life, mind andwhatever is above mind must be latent inactive or concealedactive powers in all the operations of material energy”(The Problem of Rebirth). And evolution is the method bywhich the lights of consciousness in the abysm of theNight emerge as life and mind and a consciousness whichis spiritual and supramental: “all must be until the highestis gained” (Savitri, 238).
“In the enigma of the darkened Vasts, | In the passion andself-loss of the Infinite | When all was plunged in thenegating Void” (Savitri, 140), the Being too plunged intothe dark to liberate the consciousness (Non-Being) fromits inconscient state. Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri shows theway to this stupendous cosmic and supra-cosmic task theDivine has undertaken. The Spirit’s return journey takesthe form of evolution, in which the various levels ofconsciousness emerge stage by stage on earth. Dr Dalalhas attempted to show this through sections six to twelveof this compilation. But evolution shall not end here withthe achievement of Nirvana and Cosmic Consciousness(sections 14 and 15). Sri Aurobindo’s vision and realisationhave taken evolution to its summit (section 13), theSupramental stage—”All the world’s possibilities in man |Are waiting as the tree waits in its seed” (Savitri, 482).Some of the passages presented in sections 17 and 20 andelsewhere give the difficulties on the path of Yoga, andthese sections shall prove especially helpful to readers.
In the title of the book, The God-Touch, Dr Dalal toucheson the other cardinal aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s IntegralYoga. As Sri Aurobindo wrote in The Mother:
The human in us…is too weak and obscure to belifted up suddenly to a form far beyond it. The DivineConsciousness and Force are there and do at eachmoment the thing that is needed…and shape in themidst of imperfection the perfection that is to come.
The compiler has rightly emphasised, as Sri Aurobindohas done in Savitri, “All can be done if the god-touch isthere.” To quote again from Chapter 6 of The Mother:
The Mother’s power and not any human endeavourand tapasya can alone rend the lid and tear thecovering and shape the vessel and bring down intothis world of obscurity and falsehood and deathand suffering Truth and Light and Life divine andthe immortal’s Ananda.
If faith, sincerity and surrender are there, the Divine shallact and help, even unannounced and in our unconsciousmoments.
It is hoped that the present compilation will give a footholdto readers in this regard. Savitri is a vast ocean of spiritualand supra-spiritual realms of consciousness which are “agreat connected complex movement, rather superimposedwith no rigid line of demarcation”. Dr Dalal in hiscompilation has selected beautiful passages from Savitriwhich describe some steps of Sri Aurobindo’s IntegralYoga, but the selections do not convey wholly the poet’syogic vision. However, full credit goes to the compiler forbringing out this work with the specific aim expressed inthe Preface: “The way of reading certain passages fromSavitri on specific themes suggested by this compilationmay make a special appeal to some readers, and may inducethem to read the epic more often.” Dr Dalal has done aservice for such readers, and it is hoped they will be inspiredto a deeper study of the poem. The compilation gets addedlustre from the Foreword written by Manoj Das.
— Asoka GanguliDr A. K. Ganguli retired as Professor of English, DelhiUniversity. He is the author of Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri:An Adventure of Consciousness and Sri Aurobindo: ThePoet of Nature & Other Writings on Savitri, availablewith SABDA.
In the Preface to his book A. S. Dalal reminds us that inSri Aurobindo’s poetry, “the delight of Beauty and theillumination of Truth coexist and enhance each other”.His selections from Savitri were chosen to convey certainteachings, but they also exemplify the rare beauty of SriAurobindo’s poetic language. Section twelve of The God-Touch is sub-titled “Life—a Journey and an Ascent”. Itcontains the following passage from Book III, Canto IV,where the Divine Mother is addressing Aswapati:
“Assent to thy high self, create, endure.Cease not from knowledge, let thy toil be vast.No more can earthly limits pen thy force;Equal thy work with long unending Time’s.Traveller upon the bare eternal heights,Tread still the difficult and dateless pathJoining the cycles with its austere curveMeasured for man by the initiate Gods.My light shall be in thee, my strength thy force.Let not the impatient Titan drive thy heart,Ask not the imperfect fruit, the partial prize.Only one boon, to greaten thy spirit, demand;Only one joy, to raise thy kind, desire.Above blind fate and the antagonist powersMoveless there stands a high unchanging Will;To its omnipotence leave thy work’s result.All things shall change in God’s transfiguring hour.”
The One Whom We Adoreas the Mother (DVD)— Prepared by Sri AurobindoArchives & Research LibraryPublisher: Sri Aurobindo AshramPublication Department,PondicherryISBN 978-81-7058-951-8, Rs 250
No matter how many times onereads about the life of the Mother,no matter how many times onewatches a visual presentation onher, it is always as if one were doingit for the first time, with freshwonder and joy. We may know allthe facts, we may have seen all thephotographs, but on everyoccasion, something of her entersand creates a magic anew. And it is for this alone that onecan welcome yet another effort towards sharing theMother’s life with all those who come to her.
As Sri Aurobindo wrote:The One whom we adore as the Mother is the divineConscious Force that dominates all existence, one andyet so many-sided that to follow her movement isimpossible even for the quickest mind and for the freestand most vast intelligence. The Mother is theconsciousness and force of the Supreme and far aboveall she creates.
Despite the magnitude of the ‘incomprehensible’, herchildren have always striven towards a surrender to her,to Sri Aurobindo, to all that they stood for together, andthis is all too evident as we watch The One Whom WeAdore as the Mother, a gentle audio-visual presentationwhich recounts the Mother’s life from the very start andfollows it through to the very end. One glimpses all thesignificant events that punctuated her life at intervals, theearly influences, her interests, the natural trajectory thatled to her coming to Pondicherry, the establishing of theAshram, and the ceaseless work that took place on boththe outer and inner planes.
Photograph upon photograph reveals the magnificentprogression of a life that had much to do. Beautifulpaintings and sketches made by the Mother are a sheerdelight for those who may not have had a chance to seethem before. Familiar stories are retold, making one wantto be part of the soup ceremony or to have the privilege ofsitting at her feet during the question and answer session
or even simply waiting early in the morningfor a glimpse of her as she came out to thebalcony. Anecdotes from her life in her ownwords show the extent of her occultknowledge and leave one in a state of awefor it is so often that we think of her as merelyour mother, forgetting the heights and depthsthat she soared or plunged to. Talesrecounted by sadhaks such as Nolini KantaGupta, A. B. Purani, Sahana Devi, and AmalKiran – each one a giant in him or herself andyet humbled in and within their own devotion– throw light on a time that many of us mayhave missed out on. Auroville and itswonderful idealism, the adventure of a newconsciousness, the making of a divine lifeupon earth—each is an idea that hits like athunderbolt, making one snap out of a torporthat may have set in. When she asks, “The
world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?”, it isonly natural that one should spontaneously reply with aheart full of conviction: Yes.
The narration was intelligently put together using not justa different voice-over for each personality being quotedbut also maintaining the authenticity of accents, an aspectwhich is often ignored. However, the pace set from thestart is slow and while most often it is well containedwithin the moment, on occasion it feels a bit drawn-out.The music, taken from Sunil-da’s compositions, whileadding to the charm of the presentation, does at times endrather abruptly. These minor flaws apart, it is acommendable effort by the Sri Aurobindo Archives andResearch Library, in which one can recognize and appreciatethe aspiration with which it was put together. In the end, itis this love for the Mother that reaches out and makesevery moment of this effort so very worthwhile.
To end with Sri Aurobindo’s words again:Remember the Mother and, though physically far fromher, try to feel her with you and act according to whatyour inner being tells you would be her Will. Then youwill be best able to feel her presence and mine andcarry our atmosphere around you as a protection and azone of quietude and light accompanying youeverywhere.
— ShonarShonar writes on all kinds of subjects, from music, travel,and environment to films and cultural and social issues.She is currently living in Pondicherry and working as aresearcher, writer, editor—and full-time cat-sitter.
The Integral Yoga, as Sri Aurobindo hassaid, is nothing but practical psychology,neither superficial nor a depth psychologyas currently understood, but a psychologywhich understands human nature in allits depths, heights, and connections.
Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis - IISuffering, Gratitude, and Joy— Miranda VannucciPublisher: Miranda Vannucci, Italy140 pp., Rs 600Size: 12x18 cmBinding: Soft Cover
Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis II: Suffering, Gratitude,and Joy by Miranda Vannucci is a sequel to her 2006 work.In her introductory remarks the author has explained thatshe is not comparing the theoretical bases of the twodisciplines but is rather exploring the points of contactbetween them. The author has milked her personalexperience as an analyst and as a follower of the IntegralYoga to write this book.
The book briefly touches upon several insightful topicssuch as pain and grief, depression, guilt, gratitude,attachment, the symbolism of dreams, and the significanceof flowers in the Integral Yoga. The author has usedextensive quotes from the writings of the Mother and SriAurobindo and their disciples, citing passages from TheCollected Works of the Mother, Letters on Yoga, TheSynthesis of Yoga, and Mother’s Agenda, among others.
As one reads through the book one gets many insightson how present-day psychoanalysis, as a school ofthought inspired by John Bowlby’s perspective onpsychodynamic philosophy, understands the difficultiesof human nature. But the maindrawback of the book is that inthe author’s endeavour to lookfor contacts betweenpsychoanalysis and theIntegral Yoga, the contactssometimes look forced. TheIntegral Yoga is a wholeuniverse of experience whichinevitably includes all thoughtsand ideas. Hence, there arebound to be points of contactbetween the Integral Yoga and psychoanalysis (as indeedwith any other system), but it is the point of view whichshould be oriented correctly.
A given subject can be looked at either from the inside-out/top-down perspective or from a more superficial one.For example, in the chapter on depression, the author citesas a possible cause of depression the childhood experience
of having an uninterested or uncaring mother. While sheprovides a quote from the Mother’s writings on how onecan come out of depression, there is no mention of howthe Integral Yoga understands depression and its causes.The Mother and Sri Aurobindohave written extensively ondepression and the attitude oneshould develop to overcome it,but these gems are absent fromthis chapter.
In another chapter titled“Attachment to Pain” the authorhas drawn parallels between theIntegral Yoga’s understanding ofthe vital’s attachment to pain andhow psychoanalysis views theperversion of a masochist or the reason why a couplecontinues to live in an aggressive and painful relationship.The author says that the vital’s attachment to pain showsthat there is a perverted part in us that needs pain andsticks to it.
By cursorily dismissing the vital as the perverted part thatneeds pain, the author has done away completely withwhat the vital part of human nature really is. While it is theignorant, obscure vital living in darkness that seeks theduality of pleasure and pain, the Integral Yoga focuses onthe transformation of this vital, and all other parts of thebeing, to their highest possibility.
Most schools of thought inWestern psychology looktowards the developmentof a healthy ego, one thathelps in a full adaptationand adjustment to societyso that one can function ina fully constructivemanner, as the highestpossibility in humanbeings. A person who is
not fully adjusted and not contributing towards the growthof society economically is seen as a burden and a case forpsychological therapy. Psychoanalysis also has the sameaim, an optimally functioning ego-personality. The IntegralYoga, on the other hand, sees ego in its dual nature, bothas a helper and as a bar. Ego has a place in human growthand progress, but it can also become an obstacle whenthe aim is spiritual growth.
Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes— Conversations with the Mother as recollected byMona SarkarPublisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication
Department, Pondicherry177 pp., Rs 95ISBN: 978-81-7058-899-3Size: 14x22 cmBinding: Soft Cover
There are different kinds of booksrelating to the Truth that theMother and Sri Aurobindo bringdown to earth and men. One kindrelates to the teachings; the paththey have shown and the truthsthey have revealed. These booksmay have a rather impersonal tone
about them and therefore appeal to a certain type of secularmind-set, one that shuns everything devotional oranything that has a ring of revelation in it. To those whocan feel and know by a sense deeper than thought, andpossess a certain psychic feeling, if one may say so, thereis another side of the Truth that reveals itself in the personaof the embodied Divine. It is, so to say, more personal andintimate, appealing to and addressing the heart and thesoul. Another kind of book relates to the life and lila of theembodied Divine and His way of dealing with our blindand ignorant humanity: leading us by the hand, as it were,or carrying us sheltered in the heart. Naturally such bookscarry a greater appeal for the devotee who sees with theeye of faith or knows directly by the soul’s contact ratherthan by an indirect and laborious passage through thelabyrinth of his mind.
The book under review belongs primarily to the secondcategory. Though in many ways it also addresses the mindof the seeker its thrust is rather to touch and awaken somedeeper layer of our being and through that to reach outdirectly to the soul of the reader. It is only natural that itbe so since the book is the result of a personal interactionbetween a then young disciple and the Mother. To thisdisciple faith came naturally, and surrender and obediencewere the very food of his inner life. Quite naturally it isonly to such a one that the Divine reveals his deeper andintimate side. To him, endowed or rather blessed with thisfaith, is revealed that vision of the glory which hidesbehind the human persons of the Avatara. We, too, feelblessed and uplifted as he shares his experience with thoseof us who did not have the exceptional privilege of apersonal physical contact with the twin Avataras, in this
The second major flaw of this book is that it continuouslydraws parallels between the rebellion, depression, guilt,and pain one experiences in day-to-day life, when the egodesires are unfulfilled, and the rebellion, depression, andpain the vital throws out when it is faced with the Light,which supersedes its darkness and its petty, obscure, andignorant life. Both are reactions of the vital, yet the originand cause differ. One is the pain caused by the ego-desireand its expectations; the other is part of the process ofgrowth into something higher and vaster which exceedsthe normal (mediocre) human ability. The author is tryingto ride in two boats – psychology and yoga – and keepsmoving back and forth, trying to look at human naturefrom both perspectives, differentiating the two from eachother. This may work for a non-Indian audience or evenfor a purely academic one, but even that is doubtful aswhat is provided is only a partial view of the Integral Yogaand its scope. For the practitioners and students of theIntegral Yoga this gulf/rift feels too sharp and evenmisleading at times. The Integral Yoga, as Sri Aurobindohas said, is nothing but practical psychology. But it isneither superficial nor is it a depth psychology as currentlyunderstood. It is a psychology which understands humannature in all its depths, heights, and connections.
This book, though it brings forth insights from Bowlby’sunderstanding of psychodynamic thought, has largelyfailed to delve deeply into the Integral Yoga’sunderstanding of human nature in general and suffering,gratitude, and joy in particular. A suggestion forimprovement would be to deal with fewer topics in greaterdetail rather than superficially with many. Also, it is verysteeply priced at Rs 600 for 129 pages.
Finally, on a positive note, the last four chapters of thebook are a delight as they deal with psychic emotions,Ananda, the subconscious and unconscious and thesubliminal and superconscious in the Integral Yoga, andAnanda and the body’s transformation. These fourchapters are the high points of the book as they open thepossibility of a higher, dynamic, revolutionary, andevolutionary potential for psychology and psychotherapy.
— Manasi PahwaManasi is currently pursuing her PhD in psychology fromthe University of Delhi, her area of research beingpsychotherapy and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. She came toPondicherry in 2006 and has been here since then,working full-time in an Ashram department as a volunteer.
life at least. Just as a student of the Gita is enthralled withthe vision of the Lord granted to Arjuna, so too, as we gothrough the pages of Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes, arewe enchanted and enamoured, uplifted and inspired,indeed captured by the rapture of the unfolding divinevision, wonder-struck bythe priceless gems oftruths and rare jewels ofthe spirit, almostcasually strewn beforeus by an act of Grace.The recipient of thisspecial Grace, Mona-da,may not be an Arjuna buthe is surely among the front rank of our humanity. Hisillustrious father Shri Sudhir Sarkar was not only a well-known and fearless freedom fighter, who was deported bythe British to the Andamans, but was also close to SriAurobindo both during India’s freedom struggle and after.Mona-da himself is presently the captain in charge of thecommand during the Ashram March Past. One may wellsurmise that his straightforward, truth-loving, simple,childlike nature, endowed with a strength and convictionborn of faith, must have been one of the reasons for thisspecial Grace. Whatever may be the inner and deeperreasons that elude the human mind, the result of thismeeting between the human disciple and the embodiedDivine has turned out to be most fruitful for those whofollowed afterwards. We are grateful that he has chosento share with us these notes that have been revealed tohim in personal moments and in an intimate vein.
The book itself has seven sections, each taking us deeperand deeper into the mysteries of the Divine Mother andHer sublime play with Her children. The first sectionreveals to us the deeper significance of Om, of the Mother’ssignature, Her photographs, Her gaze, and Her vision. Thesecond section is a most profound and amazing revelationabout Savitri, “the Truth of Tomorrow”. This whole chapterhas an extraordinary power in it and can easily be calledthe very best, indeed the last word to be said on thesubject. The third section deals with some personal advicegiven by the Mother relating to guidance in life and inYoga. The fourth deals with the veiled realities behindnumbers, dates, lines upon the palm, birthdays, etc. Thefifth is an exceedingly beautiful chapter on flowers thatends with a most uplifting note inspiring us to be like aflower: open and radiant, frank and transparent, equaland without preferences, generously giving without
reserve, gentle and sweet. The sixth section primarilyrelates to some aspects of the Mother’s work and actionin the Ashram context; nevertheless, it indicates Her waysof working in general upon the world. Finally, the seventhand last section tops it all by revealing, through subtly
dropped hints of deep import,some profound truths about thepurpose of Her embodiment, thephysical transformation, Hertremendous action in matter andthe physical world, and above allHer ever-present help and Grace.It is the supreme assurancealways given to man by the
incarnate Divine: that whatever happens we must cleaveto Him by faith for He never abandons His devotee, evenwhen appearances seem otherwise. To quote from thislast part of the book:
You know, once I have taken his charge (referringto a disciple who was seriously ill), whatever mayhappen to him, it may be some painful or disagreeablething, you understand…but the Grace will protecthis soul and carry him nearer to me. There is nothingbetter one can expect.
The Grace is the greatest protection and the quickestmeans to come closer to me. It is invincible and doesnot follow the slow natural route but jumps, takes aleap, towards the goal. Whatever may be the outerconsequences, the Grace carries you directly to me.
Indeed the book itself is an act of Grace and is best receivedas such, with gratitude and openness. It is not anintellectual treatise but a revelation that surpasses anyintellectual analysis. It is about truths that the mind cannever know by intellectual effort. The human mind skimsupon the surface and, tied to the outposts of the materialsenses, cannot dive deep. This book takes us deeper,holding the hand of the Divine Mother, and shows uswhat mortal eyes cannot see and reveals what the mindcannot think. A priceless treasure of nearly 170 luminouspages, it is available for a mere Rs 95. Neatly printed andwith a beautiful cover, it is a treat and a feast for the innerand outer eyes, a delight to the hungry heart and theseeking soul.
— Dr Alok PandeyDr Pandey, psychiatrist and philosopher, is a seeker onthe path of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. He writes and lecturesextensively on varied issues of life and yoga.
The last section reveals some profound truthsabout the purpose of Her embodiment, thephysical transformation, Her tremendousaction in matter and the physical world, andabove all Her ever present-help and Grace.
Published by SABDA, Pondicherry. Printed at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, Pondicherry.© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, May 2010. For private circulation only.