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The Vedic Vision and the Triple Transformation.
The Vedic Vision and the Triple Transformation
“Veda is the earliest gospel we have of man's immortality…”1- says Sri Aurobindo. “The central conception of the Veda is the conquest of the Truth out of the darkness of Ignorance and by the conquest of the Truth the conquest also of Immortality.”2
“The Veda is perfect and beautiful in its coherence and its unity.”3
There are many myths in the Veda which describe the Beginning of Creation from different angles or stages. Some of them start with the description of the Supreme Person, Atman, Self, 4 others - of the Impersonal Spirit, Brahman,5 some start from Nothingness or Darkness,6 which they call “night”, ratri-, or apas, apraketam salilam7, “dark waters”, or sometimes as mrityu ,8 “death”, etc., etc. They all refer to different stages of Creation, where Darkness or Nothingness was depicted as our beginning, but not as our Origin. We can easily reconcile these myths, knowing that Darkness was the result of the Fall of the Supreme Light, (Involution).9
The Cause of Creation. THE BEGINNING
Let us take a brief look into Vedic Cosmogony. Shatapatha Brahmana depicts the Myth of Creation in this way:
the beginning was the Self (Atman), atmaiva idam
“Why should Brahman,”- asks Sri Aurobindo, - who is “perfect, absolute, infinite, needing nothing, desiring nothing, at all throw out force of consciousness to create in itself these worlds of forms? If, then, being free to move or remain eternally still, to throw itself into forms or retain the potentiality of form in itself, it indulges its power of movement and formation, it can be only for one reason, for delight.”11
“The Supreme”, says the Mother, - “decided to exteriorise himself, objectivise himself, in order to have the joy of knowing himself in detail,… to be able to see Himself. The first thing in Himself which He exteriorised was the Knowledge of the world and the Power to create it. This Knowledge-Consciousness and Force began its work; and in the supreme Will there was a plan, and the first principle of this plan was the expression of both the essential Joy and the essential Freedom, which seemed to be the most interesting feature of this creation.”12
could He exteriorize Himself, if he alone was? How could he create another?
THE FIRST CREATION: The Eternal Night
“Night - says the Veda - was born out of the shining Truth of the Supreme Power.
From the Night the Waters of the Inconscient came into being.
And from the Waters of the Inconscient the Time was born, the Creator of all that moves.”13
It is from the Night, that all the Manifestation comes into being, but Night itself was born of the Supreme Truth.
“Out of Himself He cast “a luminous shadow”: all these worlds“ sa iman lokan asrijata”14- says the Veda, - gradually denying himself, withdrawing his Supreme Knowledge from His Supreme Power, becoming unaware of these worlds as Himself.
Of course, the word “outside” is used in a relative sense, for there is no other “space” where he is not. So in order to get the otherness of Himself he had to deny Himself in his own awareness, as it were, gradually and fully forgetting Himself in his Spirit. His Consciousness, Cit-Tapas, is of double nature: Knowledge and Power. He had to withdraw the aspect of Knowledge from the aspect of Power, and let his Power carry out the Creation as if it was not He. In other words, in order “to SEE Himself objectively” as another He had to create the eternal Night, a gap within Himself.
“In the enigma of the darkened Vasts,
In the passion and self-loss of the Infinite …
A contradiction founds the base of life:
The eternal, the divine Reality
Has faced itself with its own contraries;
Being became the Void and Conscious-Force
Nescience and walk of a blind Energy
And Ecstasy took the figure of world-pain.”15
While Consciousness becomes Nescience, the Force does not disappear or become Weakness but the “walk of a blind Energy”; it is still Force only it is blind. The Ecstasy which is the offspring of both Consciousness and Power, also does not disappear or become a kind of indifference, but instead the powerful opposite to Bliss: “world-pain”.
According to the Mother’s story of Creation, told to the children of the Ashram, at the beginning there were four Divine Beings emanated from the Supreme: Consciousness in Light, Bliss, Truth and Life.
After deciding to be independent from the Supreme, they fell into their opposites.
Light gradually turned into a complete
Bliss turned into Suffering,
Truth turned into Falsehood,
Life turned into Death. 16
Darkness is therefore nothing but Light carried out by Power without Knowledge of the Supreme, just as Suffering is Bliss, Falsehood is Truth, and Death is Life, carried out by Power without Knowledge of the Supreme.
THE SECOND CREATION
When the first Involution took place and the Light was turned into the Darkness, “the Creation became as if unsteady, shithilam iva, adhruvam iva”, - says the Veda.17 It could not sustain itself, so the Supreme Self had to enter it. And when He has entered, as the text says: “Himself by Himself”, atmanatmanam abhisamvivesha, the Creation became steady.”
There are confirming lines in Savitri:
“When all was plunged in the negating Void,
Non-Being's night could never have been saved
If Being had not plunged into the dark…”18
In the Mother’s story, in order to repair the fall of these four beings, the Supreme Mother, Aditi, delegated out of herself the force of Love which has plunged into darkness of the first Creation. That’s why Sri Aurobindo calls it a Holocaust of the Divine Mother.
"In the Vedas it is Agni, the Divine Will,19 the first Avatar, who lay down and hid himself within the darkness: the Immortal among Mortals. He is the Will of the Godhead, the Divine Purusha, the Lord, the Conscious Soul; it is because of his presence that everyone is evolving, seeking after the higher knowledge of the Supreme."
this point onward the Evolution starts to takes place.
of the Divine is here slowly awaking out of its involution and concealment in
the material Inconscience.”20 - says Sri Aurobindo in The Synthesis of Yoga.
So, actually there were two Creations (Involutions) before the Evolution could take place: first, out of Himself he created the worlds, and then he entered them, plunging into the darkness and lying down at the bottom of the Inconscient.
“He sleeps in the atom and the burning star,
He sleeps in man and god and beast and stone:
Because he is there the Inconscient does its work,
Because he is there the world forgets to die.”21
“This terrestrial evolutionary working of Nature from Matter to Mind and beyond it” - says Sri Aurobindo in The Life Divine- “has a double process:
(1) there is an outward visible process of physical evolution with birth as its machinery,—for each evolved form of body housing its own evolved power of consciousness is maintained and kept in continuity by heredity;
(2) there is, at the same time, an invisible process of soul evolution with rebirth into ascending grades of form and consciousness as its machinery.”22
These two involutions created a double process of evolution: of the body and the soul; and thus - the whole hierarchy of Consciousness.
The planes of being: the conception of Atman and Brahman in Vedanta.
In Vedantic tradition Brahman was seen as the all-inclusive Consciousness: physical, vital, mental, Supramental etc., whereas Atman, Self, was seen as an inhabitant on those levels.
“Brahman has projected in Itself this luminous Shadow of Itself and has in the act begun to envisage Itself and consider Its essentialities in the light of attributes. He who is Existence, Consciousness, Bliss envisages Himself as existent, conscious, blissful. From that moment phenomenal manifestation becomes inevitable; the Unqualified chooses to regard Himself as qualified. …the One becomes the Many.”23
1) sat existence
2) cit-tapas consciousness-power
3) ananda bliss
4) vijnana super-mind
5) manas mind
6) prana vital
7) anna matter
Atman, Self, in the form of a Person, Purusha, purusha-vidha,24 is an inhabitant on every plane of the Spirit, Brahman:
1) sat-purusha divine Self
2) caitanya-purusha all-conscious Soul
3) anandamaya-purusha all-enjoying Soul
4) vijnanamaya-purusha great Soul
5) manomaya-purusha mental being
6) pranamaya-purusha vital being
“Atman, the Self, represents itself differently in the sevenfold movement of Nature according to the dominant principle of the consciousness in the individual being. In the physical consciousness Atman becomes the material being, annamaya purusha.
In the vital or nervous consciousness Atman becomes the vital or dynamic being, pranamaya purusha.
In the mental consciousness Atman becomes the mental being, manomaya purusha.
In the supra-intellectual consciousness, dominated by the Truth or causal Idea (called in Veda satyam ritam brihat, the True, the Right, the Vast), Atman becomes the ideal being or great Soul, vijñanamaya purusha or mahat atman.
In the consciousness proper to the universal Beatitude, Atman becomes the all-blissful being or all-enjoying and all-productive Soul, anandamaya purusha.
In the consciousness proper to the infinite divine self-awareness which is also the infinite all-effective Will (cit-tapas), Atman is the all-conscious Soul that is source and lord of the universe, caitanya Purusha.
In the consciousness proper to the state of pure divine existence, Atman is sat purusa, the pure divine Self.
Man, being one in his true Self with the Lord who inhabits all forms, can live in any of these states of the Self in the world and partake of its experiences. He can be anything he wills from the material to the all-blissful being. Through the Anandamaya he can enter into the Chaitanya and Sat Purusha.”25
In the Vedas the Immortal life was foreseen and even experienced in consciousness, pretya asmad lokad amrita bhavanti,26 but not in terms of transformation of the physical body. There was still a secret to discover, which was not fully perceived at that time because evolution had not advanced to the point where it could be envisaged and striven for.27
Sri Aurobindo realized the Supramental Consciousness he did not see any
possibility to connect it to the earthly life. There was a gap, an abyss
between them, and nothing seemed to be able to connect them. It was only when
the Mother arrived that he saw the link, the
In a letter to a sadhak, Sri Aurobindo through Amrita-da explains that he and the Mother represent one consciousness in two bodies. He represents the spiritual consciousness, acting from above the head over the mental and vital consciousness, whereas the Mother represents the psychic consciousness, acting from within the heart on the vital and physical plane. And for the Integral Yoga both these influences are necessary.29
The Double Soul of
“The true being may be realised in one or both of two aspects—the Self or Atman and the soul or Antaratman, psychic being, Chaitya Purusha. The difference is that one is felt as universal, the other as individual supporting the mind, life and body.
When one first realises the Atman one feels it separate from all things, existing in itself and detached,… When one realises the psychic being, it is not like that; for this brings the sense of union with the Divine and dependence upon It and sole consecration to the Divine alone and the power to change the nature and discover the true mental, the true vital, the true physical being in oneself. Both realisations are necessary for this yoga.”30
In the past the spiritual life was possible only by excluding matter because the utility and the purpose of Chaitya Purusha was not fully understood, and most probably it could not be otherwise, for it was only with the Mother’s coming that its purpose and importance became completely clear and the transformation of the body became possible. The Psychic Being, the Individual Supreme, is a future Lord of this Creation. It is he, who is to evolve and to take into his hands the whole of Nature. Thus the Supramental Manifestation can be understood as the Third or a New Creation.
The first Creation was the Fall of the Spirit which laid out the field for the future Manifestation. All the levels of consciousness were unfolded gradually, creating all the worlds in the involutionary order, from light to darkness, from superconscient to inconscient.
The second Creation was a plunge of the Supreme, into his first Creation, bringing the aspect of the Self-conscious Person, Purusha, into this field of Darkness, in terms of individual growth and realisation. From this point the evolution takes place and goes on till the Psychic being is fully individualised and formed, and the instruments of its expression: mind, life and body are fully developed to embody the Spirit.
And the third and the final Creation is the Supramental Descent, which reconciles between the Nature and the Soul; which enthrones the Psychic being as the Lord of Creation and gives it direct access to the higher realms of Being and Consciousness, establishing the law of the Spirit in the whole Nature.
So, “There are different statuses of the Divine Consciousness,” - says Sri Aurobindo, - Individual, Universal and Transcendental.
“There are also different statuses of transformation.
First is the psychic transformation, in which all is in contact with the Divine through the individual psychic consciousness.
Next is the spiritual transformation in which all is merged in the Divine in the cosmic consciousness.
Third is the supramental transformation in which all becomes supramentalised in the divine gnostic consciousness.”31
The Psychic transformation
Psychic Being “is a flame born out of the
Divine and, luminous inhabitant of the Ignorance, grows in it till it is able
to turn it towards the Knowledge;” … it is a deputy of the unborn Self or
Atman “in the forms of Nature, the individual soul,… supporting mind, life and
body, standing behind (them) …, watching and profiting by their development and
experience.”(see also a quotation from Savitri, note 28)
“If it can come forward into the front and govern overtly and entirely… this outer nature of mind, life and body, then these can be cast into soul images of what is true, right and beautiful and in the end the whole nature can be turned towards the real aim of life, the supreme victory, the ascent into spiritual existence.” 32
The Spiritual transformation
“The Psychic Being can by the spiritual influx enlarge itself and embrace the whole world…in an intimate communion or oneness.
Or it may become aware of its eternal Companion and elect to live for ever in His presence, in an imperishable union and oneness as the eternal lover with the eternal Beloved, which of all spiritual experiences is the most intense in beauty and rapture.
All these are great and splendid achievements of our spiritual self-finding, but they are not necessarily the last end and entire consummation; more is possible.” 33
The Supramental transformation
“The psychic transformation after rising into the spiritual change has then to be completed, integralised, exceeded and uplifted by a supramental transformation.
In Supermind is the integrating Light, the consummating Force, the wide entry into the supreme Ananda: the psychic being uplifted by that Light and Force can unite itself with the original Delight of existence from which it came: overcoming the dualities of pain and pleasure, delivering from all fear and shrinking the mind, life and body, it can recast the contacts of existence in the world into terms of the Divine Ananda.” 34
Thus the Psychic Being is the key to the whole evolution. It has to be discovered and brought forward. It has to be enlarged and strengthened by the spiritual transformation of all its instrumentations of mind, vital and body. It has to be enthroned as the Lord of the Universe by the Supramental transformation and, by entering into the realms of the Supreme Transcendental Ananda, it should bring down the higher laws of the Divine Existence into the earthly life of man.
1 The Secret of the Veda, p.375
2 Ibid, p.241
3 Ibid, p.144
4 Cp.: Aitareya Upanishad 1.1.1-4; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.4.1-3.;
5 Cp: Maitrayani Upanishad 6.17;
6 Cp: Rig Veda 10.129.1-2; Taittiriya Upanishad, 2.7; etc.
7 Cp.: Rig Veda 10.129.1-2; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5.5.1; Taittiriya Aranyaka 1.23; Jaiminiya Upanishad 1.56.1, etc.
8 Cp: Brihadaranyaka Upahishad 1.2.1
Savitri , p. 601:
Night is not our beginning nor our end;…
We came to her from a supernal Light,By Light we live and to the Light we go.
See also Rig Veda 10.190.1-2.
10 Cp: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 1.4.1-3
There is an interesting explanation given by the Mother to a sadhak asking why the Supreme, who is perfect, needed such imperfect manifestation. She says that the Supreme already possesses Himself in His Supreme Identity but actually what He wanted was to experience himself in Unity, to discover Himself in detail, and that was the cause of this Creation.
We read also in Savitri (p. 455):
The soul attracted leaned to the Abyss...
It strained towards some otherness of self,..
It tired of its unchanging happiness,
It turned away from immortality…
11 The Life Divine, p.91
12 Questions and Answers,
13 Rig Veda 10.190. “He (a Year) established Days and Nights and fashioned accordingly the Sun and the Moon, Heaven and Earth and Space in-between, and then Svar.”
There were actually two Nights: one born from the Truth, and other one created by Time, as a pair of Night and Day. In both cases Rishi uses the same word Ratri.
Aurobindo explains this symbol of Night in The
Secret of the Veda: “Utter Night out
of which the worlds arise is the symbol of the Inconscient. That is the
“But in the world of our darkened mortal view of things there reigns the lesser Night of the Ignorance which envelops heaven and earth and the mid-region, our mental and physical consciousness and our vital being.” ( p. 481)
14 cp.: Aitareya Upanishad 1.1.1. The word “asrijata” implies some other space than the space of his existence, suggesting non-existence: Night.
See also an explanation on the page 665 in “The Life Divine”:
“Mind … is an outcome of Overmind or it is here a luminous shadow thrown by the divine Supermind:…”
15 Savitri, p.141;
Questions and Answers
Referring to a very ancient tradition underlying the Vedic knowledge, the Mother told this story in her own way on several occasions, each time warning that it should not be taken too literally or too dogmatically, but simply as a story.
17 Taittiriya Aranyaka 1.23.8-9
18 Savitri, p.141
19 It is interesting to note that Agni in the Vedas is always referred to as having two aspects or characteristics: (1) sacrificial, yajatra-/yajishtha-, as “worthy of sacrifice”, and (2) the aspect of adoration and love, idya-, priya-, as “adored” or “dear”.
20 The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 262
21 Savitri, p. 681
22 The Life Divine, p. 825.
23 Sri Aurobindo, “The Philosophy of the Upanishads”, 1994, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, p. 38
24 Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2-5
25 The Upanishads, p. 44
26 Taittiriya Upanishad 3.10, Kena Upanishad 2.5
Mother in her Conversations explains that Vedic Rishis were “involutionary
beings”, (MCW, vol.7, p. 355) who brought down the Vedic truths for us to
evolve towards. She even says that there was not yet a fully
developed psychic being in the times of Vedas. ( see: Mother’s Agenda,
28 See the passage on Psychic being from Savitri, p. 526-27:
She puts forth a small portion of herself,
A being no bigger than the thumb of man
Into a hidden region of the heart
To face the pang and to forget the bliss,
To share the suffering and endure earth's wounds
And labour mid the labour of the stars.
This in us laughs and weeps, suffers the stroke,
Exults in victory, struggles for the crown;
Identified with the mind and body and life,
It takes on itself their anguish and defeat,
Bleeds with Fate's whips and hangs upon the cross,
Yet is the unwounded and immortal self
Supporting the actor in the human scene.
29 The spiritual attitude of the Self, Atman, can be described as: “All is Divine!”, whereas the psychic attitude of Antaratman can be put as: “I accept nothing but the Divine!”
30 Letters on Yoga, p. 277
31 Letters on Yoga, p. 95
32 The Life Divine, p. 225
33 The Life Divine, p.228
34 The Life Divine, p.230
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