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Sri Aurobindo

Letters of Sri Aurobindo


Fragment ID: 8492

(this fragment is largest or earliest found passage)

Sri Aurobindo — Unknown addressee

March 3, 1937

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Ramana Maharshi [7]

If the true being behind the usual emotional heart is the psychic, how is it that Ramana Maharshi says, and all the Upanishads too say, that in the core of the heart is the Self, the Atman? Maharshi says the place of the Self is not in the centre of the chest but two fingers to the right – whereas the psychic is located in the middle.

The Upanishads do not say that about the Atman – what they say about the Atman is that it is in all and all is in it, it is everywhere and all this universe is the Atman. What they speak of as situated in the deeper inner heart is the Purusha in the heart or Antaratman.1 This is in fact what we call the psychic being, caitya puruṣa.

The heart spoken of by the Upanishads corresponds with the physical cardiac centre; it is the hṛtpadma of the Tantriks. As a subtle centre, cakra, it is supposed to have its apex on the spine and to broaden out in front. Exactly where in this area one or another feels it does not matter much; to feel it there and be guided by it is the main thing. I cannot say what the Maharshi has realised – but what Brunton describes in his book as the Self is certainly this Purusha Antaratma but concerned more with mukti and a liberated action than with transformation of the nature. What the psychic realisation does bring is a psychic change of the nature purifying it and turning it altogether towards the Divine. After that or along with it comes the realisation of the cosmic Self. It is these two things that the old Yogas encompassed and through them they passed to Moksha, Nirvana or the departure into some kind of celestial transcendence. The Yoga practised here includes both liberation and transcendence, but it takes liberation or even a certain Nirvana, if that comes, as a first step and not as the last step of its siddhi. Whatever exit to or towards the Transcendent it achieves is an ascent accompanied by a descent of the power, light, consciousness that has been achieved and it is by such descents that is to be achieved the spiritual and supramental transformation here. This possibility does not seem to be admitted in the Maharshi’s thought,– he considers the Descent as superfluous and logically impossible. “The Divine is here, from where will He descend?” is his argument. But the Divine is everywhere, he is above as well as within, he has many habitats, many strings to his bow of Power, there are many levels of his dynamic Consciousness and each has its own light and force. He is not confined to his position in the heart or to the single cord of the psycho-spiritual realisation. He has also his supramental station above the heart-centre and mind-centres and can descend from there if He wants to do so.

3 March 1937


1 aṅguṣṭhamātraḥ puruṣo antarātmā.


2 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. here rather


3 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. is achieved


4 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. This does


5 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. word


6 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. mind-centre


7 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. wills


Current publication:

[Largest or earliest found passage: ] Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Himself and the Ashram // CWSA.- Volume 35. (≈ 26 vol. of SABCL).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2011.- 658 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. II // CWSA.- Volume 29. (≈ 22-24 vol. of SABCL).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2013.- 522 p.

Sri Aurobindo. Letters of Sri Aurobindo: In 4 Series.- Second Series [On Yoga].- Bombay: Sri Aurobindo Sircle, 1949.- 599 p.