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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

Forgive me if I quarrel with you today; you have hinted that I am a coward.

There is a coward in every human being – precisely the part in him which insists on “safety” – for that is certainly not a brave attitude. I admit however that I would like safety myself if I could have it – perhaps that is why I have always managed instead to live dangerously and follow the dangerous paths dragging so many poor Nirods in my train.

I am stunned to see you mention Yoga and other human activities in the same breath. Is it not Sri Krishna who said that out of thousands very few seek him and still fewer get him?

There are lots who try for a Govt. post and only a few get them! It is the same principle everywhere.

Let me tell you how a born yogi felt and feels about Yoga. He says often to us that on many occasions he has felt like running away never mind to which hell! What then about us, born-biyogis?

I was not aware that there are born Yogis and unborn Yogis. All have their vital and mental difficulties, whether born or unborn.

You have called around you or rather we have come to you, a jumble of assorted elements, (I call no one – says your thundering voice, but don't you really call even from within?) for yoga which seems to me a great gamble like that of Monte Carlo.

Whom have I called?

If they were not, they would not be representative of the world which has to be changed.

And this gambling fight is more against forces unseen than seen. We eat hostile forces, breathe them, feed them, exchange them, do everything except see and trample them – swarming micro-organisms.

So is all life on earth – a complex of seen and unseen forces and an obscure and ignorant struggle.

These forces drag us down from today's ecstasy to tomorrow's valley of depression and next day's abyss of doom. In Barinbabu's world gods and goddesses are seething in ours hostile forces!

After all there are plenty of people here who are going pretty well; why emphasise only the comparatively few who have fallen out or are in serious trouble? Each has his difficulties, no doubt, but how on earth do you expect so high a path to be without them?

To add to all this, you hardly take an initiative and ask people to do this or that. Your principle is to give a long rope either to hang oneself or have a taste of the bitter cup.

I am to put everybody into leading, strings and walk about with them – or should it be the rope in their nose? Supermen cannot be made like that – the long rope is needed.

When I went on reading and reading in the godown you said nothing till the blow came.

Reading in a godown does not end tragically as a rate.

D.S. is doing the same. Yet it can't be denied that he originally came to do yoga. In spite of it he is caught in the intricate net of the blessed forces and gives up the greater pursuit for the lesser.

It is not reading medical books that was the cause of D.S.'s serious upset. It was the usual causes coupled with something else. But as all that is private, I can't go into it.

I come for yoga with all sincerity but end by being a tool in their hands. Isn't it tragic and pathetic? This side of the shield I request you to see.

Gracious heavens! you are really a poet.

“So, what is your point?” you may ask, “One shouldn't do yoga?” Certainly. Only, I am trying to establish my proposition that one is never sure in yoga, or only a few are.

One is never sure in anything. It is absurd in this world to say, “I will only do what is sure and absolutely safe – especially in anything great.

Caustic satire, about railways is, with all apology, a little off the point. Firstly I have dared yoga.

Why not go on daring – instead of wailing because there is no safety?

In railways etc., the journeys are safe; hostile forces are not so villainous. But even after Herculean efforts, the path of yoga is not a jot easier.

You ought to read the Matin. Every now and then a tremendous collision and holocaust. I admit that in India railway is slow and scanty and therefore more though not quite safe. Anyway, what about aeroplanes?

Ramakrishna had a word of hope for his disciples and used to say, all those who have come here, will realise1 You don't or won't give any, not even a quarter. You might say it is a greater Truth, but we have greater Divines as well.

He had a few disciples round him – here there is a crowd of 150 – so his assurance was not a very big sporting flutter. But what did mean?

For this greater Truth if some fall out, what matters? The Wheel of Jagannath must roll on and the Divine has no tears for them, for he is beyond dualities.

Even if I fall out myself, I will not weep. I will try again.

It is very problematic, however, how many will reach your Heaven alive, like Yudhishthir.

And his dog. You have forgotten the dog2

I am afraid most of us will have the fate of the Pandavas,3 unless the Divine is prepared to carry us all himself – barring the ladies!

What the deuce has sex to do here? Don't be too medical.

Because medical science says that their physiological apparatus is more suitable for psychological attitude of self-abnegation which is also the essential desideratum for yoga.

That's the only thing for which their physiological apparatus works? I fear there are other things both in male and female which are not essential desiderata for Yoga.

Apart from all sense of humour – I have never said that Yoga or that this Yoga is a safe and easy path – what I say is that anyone who has the will to go through can go through. For the rest if you aim high, there is always the danger of a steep fall, if you misconduct your aeroplane. But the danger is for those who allow themselves to entertain a double being, aiming high but also indulging their lower outlook and hankerings. What else can you expect when people do that? You must become single-minded, then the difficulties of the mind and vital will be overcome. Otherwise those who oscillate between their heights and their abysses, will always be in danger till they have become single-minded – that applies to the “advanced” as well as to the beginner. These are facts of nature – I can't pretend for anybody's comfort that they are otherwise. But there is the fact also that nobody need keep himself in this danger. One-mindedness (ekaniṣṭhā), surrender to the Divine, faith, true love for the Divine, complete sincerity in the will, spiritual humility (real, not formal); there are so many things that can be a safeguard against any chance of eventual downfall. Slips, stumbles, difficulties, upsettings everyone has; one can't be assured against these things, but if one has the safeguards, they are transitory, help the nature to learn and are followed by a better progress.



1 Written in Bengali


2 According to the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira, the eldest of the four brothers of Arjuna, was the only person to reach Heaven alive in his mortal body. He was accompanied by a dog which he had found on the way. It is said that the gate-keeper of Heaven would not allow the dog to enter, but King Yudhisthira himself refused to enter without his dog, since being a king, it was his duty to protect all those who had asked for his protection. Thus the dog entered Heaven. Then the dog resumed his true form. He was none other then Dharmaraj, Lord of the Law.


3 The four brothers of Yudhishthira were called the “Pandavas” that is, the sons of Pandu.











1935 01 05 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran