Once in the early years of my life in the Ashram I wrote to Sri Aurobindo,
"How people calling to Shiva or Krishna or their Ishta Devata
get responses from you I dont understand," he replied,
" Who is Shiva? and who is Krishna? and what is an Ishta Devata?
There is only one Divine, not a thousand Divines." Myself: "It
would mean that wherever a sincere heart is aspiring for the Divine,
his aspiration reaches your ears." Sri Aurobindo: "Why my
ears? Ears are not necessary for the purpose. You might as well say,
reaches me by the post." I then protested, "No, Sir, I am
satisfied with you as Sri Aurobindo pure and simple. I dont
need anybody else." He wrote back, "No objection. I only
suggested that I dont know who this Sri Aurobindo pure
and simple is. If you do, I congratulate you." Since then, my
relation with him had become very intimate. I gradually came to know
many aspects of his personality, but never who he really was. My correspondence
with him has shown that I dared to take liberties with him (which
was considered unthinkable by other sadhaks). Once I wrote to him,
"Cut me or beat me, Sir, but dont forsake me." And
the answer he wrote back startled me and filled me with a sudden delight
and assurance beyond measure. He wrote. "Never. But beat you,
a lot." This assurance has sustained and will sustain me even
in my future life, if I may say so. Once I dared to ask him, "Where
do you get so much sense of humour?" His cryptic reply: "raso
vai sah" (verily He is Delight.) Then one day when I asked
him "Why are you so soft and free as if Im your comrade?"
he gave an enigmatic answer: "Find out for yourself." When
I failed to find out, he wrote, "It is not by the mind that you
can find out." Till now I have failed to discover why. The enigma
remains unsolved and I live with the hope that perhaps he will divulge
the secret as he had divulged to Dilip the cause of his intimacy with
him. But he has made me stick to him till now and perhaps forever.
But my knowledge of him has grown as far as my small human understanding
can allow. And I have come to this conclusion that what he has written
about Sri Krishna in fact applies to him too. In his estimation Sri
Krishna had an unfathomable mind of knowledge. However, Sri Aurobindo
remains an enigma to the world.
The Mother herself has admitted that she had failed to know him though
she had lived with him for more than 30 years.
To a disciple who wished to write his biography, he remarked that
his life has not been on the surface for people to see.
The vast world of knowledge he had possessed remains unparalleled.
He has himself admitted to us that what he knows will remain untold
even if he goes on writing for twelve years. We asked him, "Will
all that knowledge remain unknown to us and posterity?" "Learn
first of all what I have written," he replied with a sweet smile,
and added. "I am afraid I have come perhaps before my time."
Comes to mind a mighty line from one of his poems: "I have drunk
the Infinite like a giants wine."
Only with the help of such a Wine could he have given to India and
the world his four major contributions: a national awakening and fiery
thirst for total independence, a new and deeper interpretation of
the Vedas, the rediscovery of the Supermind, and a life-embracing
system of Integral Yoga.
The question that makes us marvel with wonder is how within a short
span of years he could gather so vast a knowledge, and even record
it, which would need at least a hundred years. The Mother holds an
answer to that enigma. She said that he had only to sit before the
typewriter and knowledge would pour down like a stream from above.
And is it only knowledge? What about the beauty of expression, perfection
of style and masterly composition? We remember that when his immortal
book The Life Divine had been published, the Times
Literary Supplements front page article described Sri Aurobindo
as "an author who writes with the sky for page and the constellations
as his company," and as "a new kind of thinker who combines
the serenity of the East and the alacrity of the West."
Romain Rolland, a great French savant, said about Sri Aurobindo, "The
old leader of the Bengal revolt, who is now one of the greatest thinkers
of modern India, has realized the most complete synthesis achieved
up to the present between the genius of the West and of the East."
He also said that Sri Aurobindo is the last of the great Rishis who
holds the creative bow in his hand.
If this is about the Man of Knowledge, what about the human being
he was? What has he not done for the human race? We know he sacrificed
his inestimable life for the incalculable benefit of man.
In the Mothers revelation to Dr. Sanyal, a famous surgeon who
was called to treat Sri Aurobindo, "People do not know what a
tremendous sacrifice he has made for the world. About a year ago,
while I was discussing things I remarked that I felt like leaving
the body. He spoke out in a firm tone, No, this can never be.
If necessary for the transformation I might go, you will have to fulfil
our yoga of supramental descent and transformation."
She also said, "As soon as Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body,
what he called the Mind of Light got realised in me." And his
human body turned a golden colour for five days to the surprise of
the public. But his immortal consciousness is ever with us guiding
the destiny of the world, remaining with us in all our trials and
tribulations and leading this woe-begotten race to its divine destiny
for which he came to the world - a colonist from Immortality!
What shall we then think of him? That he is as God himself is? Have
we got the answer to his Question "Who is Sri Aurobindo?"
Or will he remain a marvellous enigma forever?
formerly published in "Jyoti" Nr 3 (1999) - the online journal
of the Sri Aurobindo Center EWCC - Los Angeles
[no longer available, they keep only the current
issue on the site]