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Sri Aurobindo

Letters of Sri Aurobindo

Volume 1. 1935

Letter ID: 1445

Sri Aurobindo — Nirodbaran Talukdar

October 16, 1935

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In your letter to Somnath you said that what is most needed is an upward aspiration. But then what about the other two movements: rejection and surrender you mention in The Mother?

It was not necessary to mention all that. I was only answering a limited question, not giving a whole theory of Yoga to Somnath.

Don’t you think that aspiration being equal, a rajasic man will meet with a greater resistance in rejecting his lower impulses than a sattwic man?

That is implied in what I said about the sattwic man having the advantage. Somnath’s question seemed to be about the approach to spirituality, Yoga, not as to what would happen to the two kinds of people in the course of the sadhana. But obviously the rajasic movements are likely to create more trouble than the sattwic ones. The greatest difficulty of the sattwic man is the snare of virtue and self-righteousness, the ties of philanthropy, mental idealisms, family affections etc., but except the first, these are, though difficult, still not so difficult to overpass or else transform. Sometimes however these things are as sticky as the rajasic difficulties.

Since desires are strong in the rajasic man they will surely thwart the fire of aspiration rising upwards, won’t they?

All that is logical, but it does not happen in every case. It may be true in your case, but what of St. Augustine, Jagai Madhai, Bilwamangal and the rest? St. Augustine had difficulties, but they do not seem to have been of a very violent character, the others are described as having made a total volte face, I believe.

If I had been a predominantly sattwic man, you would have had much less trouble from me, wouldn’t you?

No doubt. But you are not after all, a thief, debauchee, drunkard or gangster. You may say perhaps that if you had been, you could have been a great saint also, violently sinning, violently repenting, violently sanctifying yourself? Perhaps that was the secret of St. Augustine and the others!

So you can see that aspiration per se, however strong and true, cannot achieve much.

Who says no?

Or do you mean that a strong aspiration will necessarily bring in rejection and surrender?

Of course.

Next, though sinners and robbers have been converted into saints, their number must be very small compared to the sattwic type.

It may be so, but that is not my experience. The highly sattwic are few; the abnormally rajasic are few; of the middle sort there are many. According to my observation, this is true not only of this Ashram but of others.

If so, can one say that in the evolution of consciousness sattwic people are more evolved than the others? Narrow logic again?

Um! somewhat! There are all sorts among the more evolved, among the less evolved there are many sattwic people also, mere good people who don’t amount to much. One pats them on the back and goes farther. But don’t twist this into meaning that I prefer the nasty bad ones. I don’t; they give too much trouble. Only life, evolution, human character and things generally in this perplexing world are disconcertingly complex and can’t be dismissed with a few simpler affirmations.

M says that his head seems to be better but he doesn’t know if eruptions will come out again, when the treatment is stopped. So he suggests you will be a better judge to say whether the disease is still inside or not.

How am I to know? The inside of his head is opaque, not transparent. So long as it doesn’t come again from outside with a new sowing!


1 SABCL, volume 22: idealisations


2 SABCL, volume 22: surpass


Current publication:

[A letter: ] Sri Aurobindo; Nirodbaran Talukdar. Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo: The Complete Set [in 2 volumes].- 2nd ed., 3d inpression.- Volume 1.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2001.- 602 p.

Other publications:

Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga // SABCL.- Volume 22. (≈ 28 vol. of CWSA).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1971.- 502 p.

Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga. I // CWSA.- Volume 28. (≈ 22 vol. of SABCL).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2012.- 590 p.