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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

Have you heard anything about S of Dayalbagh?...

Certainly, I have been hearing about him or his sect for ages. He is, besides the Guru of M's family.

According to Paul Brunton's account, he is doing some genuine work. It seems S's principle is – “... I am attempting to show the world... that a man can be perfectly spiritual without running away to caves, and that he can reach the highest attainments in Yoga while carrying on with worldly avocations.”1 He has founded an elaborate system of factories, textiles, machines, scientific instruments, electric fans, run by his disciples.

How does he show it? The world can see his textiles and machines and electric fans, but how is it to know that his men are perfectly spiritual? “Showing the world” is a dangerous aim to start with – it ends generally in the world as it is and always was + a show.

isn't it similar to your doctrine or to that of Karmayoga?

More like the latter much modernised. Or rather he is carrying out without knowing it the plan I had laid down for Motilal Roy.

One sees perhaps a glimpse of your future work here.2

Good Lord, man! don't make such dismal prophecies. As I have said, it is an American magnification of my past work, nothing to do with my future work at all.

And the Yoga they follow is the “Sound-Yoga”. What is this new business again? He says, “...a current of sound was the first activity of the Supreme Being at the beginning of creation...”3

Not new at all – as old as the Himalayas. You seem to be remarkably ignorant of the past history of Yoga in India. It is only a specialised statement of the general Tantric theory of the Seed Sounds. Something like my OM Tut tut tut bring kring, which you refused to try. If you had –

He says that Kabir also taught Sound-Yoga.

The basic idea is at least three thousand years older than Kabir. It is simply a big name for the use of the mantra.

Anyway I am not very much interested in all this. There is something else now about which I want your opinion – “... that the innermost parts of our brain centres are associated with subtle worlds of being... that the most important centre of all enables us to obtain divine consciousness of the highest order.”4

Nothing new in that – except that it ignores the part played by the subtle body and packs all into the gross physical. But that too has done before.

“The most important of these centres is the pineal gland...5

It is the seat of the spirit-entity in man.”6

Ancient, ancient, very ancient! The Theosophists, I believe, made a big noise about the pineal gland.

It is said that if you shoot a man through this gland, he instantaneously dies.

So he does if you shoot. So the spirit entity is there too?

“It is the focus of the individual spirit-entity which gives life and vitality to man's mind and body. It is when this spirit entity recedes from the pineal gland that the conditions of dream, deep sleep or trance supervene, and when it finally leaves the gland the body falls dead.”7

Christ!! But how can it recede without leaving the gland?

“When it [the spirit-entity] leaves the pineal gland and passes upwards, its passage through the grey matter of the brain brings it into contact with the region of universal mind, and its passage through the white matter exalts its consciousness to lofty spiritual realities...”8

Sounds rather stuffy, but it may be true for all I know. These theosophic and other modern attempts to square physical Science with Yoga (Yogis formerly did not bother to differentiate the spiritual functions of grey matter and white matter) make me always suspicious. It looks like manufacture of the mind, pseudo-science.

It is true however that a passage in the Upanishads is supposed to give the soul hired lodgings in the pineal gland.

You know that medical men are still hazy about the definite functions of matter like the appendix; others attribute vague functions to it. But according to Yoga, it seems to be a very important organ. What's your idea?

I have no idea. Never bothered about the pineal gland. In fact my spirit entity “receded from” it and even “finally left” it long ago without my dying – at least I seem to myself to be alive still.

You will add sarcastically: “There are many more things in heaven and earth etc. than in your medical Science! Do tell us about a few of them.

I absolutely refuse.

The Kundalini business also seems a mystery to me. I read somewhere that the soul sojourns in the brain! Heard of it?

Now for the first time. Did hear that it might be somewhere up there in a thing called a chakra or lotus.

Is this spirit-entity the same as the soul, residing in the pineal gland?

Maybe. But the soul is also supposed to be somewhere in or behind the heart, i.e. cardiac centre. But perhaps that is only the soul-entity and not the spirit-entity? God knows – and perhaps S also. I don't.

Allow me to state my difficulty. How the devil can a spirit-entity be enclosed in a material gland? So far as I know the self or spirit is not enclosed in the body, rather the body is in the self. When we have the full experience of the self, we feel it as a wide consciousness in which the body is a very small thing, an adjunct or a thing contained, not a container. What then is this spirit-entity? There can be a small formation which stands for the self or spirit, like the Upanishads' Purusha no bigger than a man's thumb. Is this the spiritentity? But even then in what sense, in what relativity of space can it be said to be in the very material pineal gland? A spirit confined in a gland and dislodged from it by a pistol shot is a kind of language which I buck at. A spirit touching grey brain matter and so entering into contact with universal mind and touching white matter and so entering into contact with loftier spiritual realities is also too weird a conception for my intelligence. What happens to it when it has no matter to touch? Dissolution? laya?

When we speak of the Purusha in the head, heart etc., we are using a figure. The Muladhara from which the Kundalini rises is not in the physical body, but in the subtle body – (the subtle body is that in which the being goes out in deep trance or more radically, at the time of death); so also are all the centres. But as the subtle body penetrates and is interfused with the gross body, there is a certain correspondence between these chakras and certain centres in the physical proper. So figuratively we speak of the Purusha in this or that centre of the body. Owing to this correspondence, again, when the Ananda or anything else comes down into the being, it is the subtle body that it pervades, but it communicates itself through it to the gross body and its consciousness, so that it is felt as if pervading the body. But all that is very different from saying that the spirit is lodged in a gland. The gross body is an engine, a means of communication and action of the spirit upon the world and it is only a small part of the instrumentation. It is absurd to make so much of it as all that. It is a sort of false materialism intended to placate minds that have a scanty knowledge of science. But what is the use of that? Everybody now knows that science is not a statement of the truth of things, but only a language expressing a certain experience of objects, their structure, their mathematics, a co-ordinated and utilisable impression of their processes – it is nothing more. Matter itself is something (a formation of energy perhaps?) of which we know superficially the structure as it appears to our mind and senses and to certain examining instruments (about which it is now suspected that they largely determine their own results. Nature adapting its replies to the instrument used), but more than that no scientist knows nor can know. If the Radhaswami affirmations are meant to be another kind of language expressing certain psycho-physical experiences, I have no objection. But why all this pineal glandism and talk about entities and bullets?

N.B. If I say the Purusha is in the heart, do I mean it is there in the physical heart, tumbling about in the flow of the blood or stuck in the valves or the muscular portions and when a bullet lodges in the heart it jumps up with an Ooah! and tumbles down dead or goes off skating and swimming into some grey or white matter worlds beyond? Certainly not. I am using a significant language which expresses certain relations between the psychic consciousness and the physical of which we become aware by Yoga.



1 A Search in Secret India, p. 230.


2 Underlining “your future work”:


3 ibid.. p. 243.


4 ibid.. p. 244.


5 Sri Aurobindo underlined “pineal gland.”


6 ibid.. p. 244.


7 ibid., pp. 244-245


8 ibid., p. 245











1936 04 08 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran