For a long time I have severed all connections from my official religion-Hinduism. I do not participate in any religious ceremony. Not because that I hate them but because it all seem to me sheer childishness. I am more than convinced that the days of religion have gone. I do not know how one goes to a temple or a church to worship. [...] Aspiration
BABUL'S WORLD -10 October 2008 Birth of New Spiritualism After Three Thousand Years
Some personal stray thoughts: From my very childhood I have been inclined to spiritual matters. This is not to say that I felt god-ward emotion as we find in sadhus and yogis. Neither was I a spiritual seeker in my life. What interested me was to know how God exits and in what way he is related to our lives. This is also not to say that I had philosophical bend in my mind.
I was born in a very spiritual and religious family. But as the family was deeply rooted in Sri Ramakrishna –we were not conventionally religious. Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda rid many Hindus –especially Bengali Hindus, of the debris of conservative Hinduism. The disciples and the followers of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda were enlightened neo-Hindus then. My grandfather and grandmother were initiated by Sri Sarada Devi-whom we knew as Ma in our family. All the sons and daughters of my grandfather were initiated by this and that of the twelve sanyasin disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.
We lived in Ranchi then permanently. My grandfather was one of the founders of Sri Ramakrishna Mission at Ranchi. So our house was frequently visited by the different sadhus and sanyasins and they stayed in our house whenever they felt necessary. So it was natural for me to grow as a strong believer in God. There was a strong presence of Sri Ramakrishna in our home. Sri Ramakrishna was our God. He was with us in every moment –in all the events good and bad. I loved him-sincerely loved him. I still love him.
But I had questions –which grew in numbers and in strength as I kept growing in age. One day when I was ten years-I suddenly got out of my otherwise normal calm mind and asked my aunt-a very devoted woman “If India is so rich and great with her Vedas, Upanishads, Gita-and with the numerous sadhus, monks, yogis and devotees sacrificing so much for the sake of God-why is this country suffering from poverty, diseases and illiteracy? Why are we lagging behind the West? [...]
By what I may consider myself a person –free from all religions? Broadly speaking, the atheists also follow some systems of thoughts and belief that help them exist comfortably. It’s like unconsciously holding to the root of a sense of certainty of their existence. There must be an axiom which helps to prove other truths. For man this axiom is hidden and unknown to him. But he feels the urge to cling to it for existential justification. When it is said that man can not live by bread alone –the need for bread is more emphasised than other psychological requirements. But a deep insight into the needs of man reveals that the most essential requirement in him is his sense of existence. The bread is essential for physical survival –but the basic root of this survival is a sense of assertion of survival. For man this sense of survival is not merely sensory. It’s a sense that gives him an identity as distinguished from amorphous mass of life. He wants to see or assert himself as an individual that is justifiably co-related to that which is greater than him-his personal self. To be specific we may say that man wants to belong to a system-that sustains his existence. If he fails to understand that ‘required system’-he would find out one according to his nature and understanding. The scientist does not believe that he is guided by someone we call God. So he tries to discover in his own way the truths and powers that govern his life and the world. It’s the essential satisfaction of existential nature. There can be no sense of uncertainty in our feeling of living in life. If we are unable to find any –we go on creating or imagining one to adhere to. So –the most interesting thing is that an atheist also believes that he is driven by a system –and in his case –it’s not God.
This innate existential seeking has necessarily a tendency to form an external system in order to get it complied with the inner urge. Externally this is the cause of religions to meet this demand of existence of human life. Man gets relief in the fold of religion; his all is gathered into a certainty. He is given a world he is able to believe in and gets the ways and means to walk on it with his convincingly secure feeling. In religion he is justified of his physical, vital and mental instincts and perhaps is better satisfied. It’s because the sense of control over the baser impulses helps man to enjoy more under sanction of the authority of his religion. So in religion only man gets a justified ground of existence and the rightful approval of meeting his natural instincts with control. And it is this religion that sets before man a higher truth, a higher way of life. So in religion man also gets an opportunity to pursue his higher urge. So basically in this higher ideal held by all major religions as districts from the impulses of lower nature –man finds a higher and vaster sky for his possibilities. There is no doubt that in religion man finds himself more than what he is ordinarily. Here in this aspect, the gate of original inner urge of existential nature is more opened and man gets more space to satisfy the dignity of his existence.
Those who criticise religions forget that religion is an essential natural phenomenon of man’s search and fulfilment –and the consequent exteriorisation of the hidden urge of life. There is no denying the fact that it is the same religion that shackles, fetters and tortures man and prevent him to go beyond the established and fixed periphery to be otherwise for the same reason that is behind the growth of religion. Religion helps man to gather around a set of principles for grasping the reason of his existence but it never allows him to go outside this frame. The principles of life on which a religion is based –gradually turn into the rules of a structure. The tree now wants to explain the seed. The root of this contradiction lies in the overriding prominence of collective system against the urge of individual for further progress. The truth always comes through individual and through the individual it holds the collective group.
So it is individual who whenever rises against a past dogma in favour of a living truth –the collective opposition (in the form of religion) stands against it. So we have witnessed in the process of history the battles between newness and progressive thoughts- and between religions also. As I have told above that we can not afford to be outside religions-of any kind for fear of losing truths that sustain us-identify us.
This is the apparent and external truth for religions growing strength in collective human groups. But there is a force and power behind the foundation of religion which is not physical. In all the major religions and paths there are spiritual powers that form them as new ways and influences for the world in given times through Avatars, Bibhutis and other higher mental or vital incarnations for the general progressions of human consciousness. These incarnations from higher spiritual regions are essential in the progression of consciousness in evolutionary process behind manifestation of higher principles of existence. But in the process of time all the new principles go on creating norms, rules, creeds etc because of mind’s ways to grasp the newness. Ultimately –it is the principle of mind and also of vital consciousness that are responsible for the creeds of religions or the religiosity. The truth has been asked heaven’s sanction for earth’s service. This degeneration of spiritual truth in the life and mind of human beings is best described by Sri Aurobindo in the following lines of his Life Divine.
"...The religious idea has been turned into an excuse for the worship and service of the human ego. Religion, leaving constantly its little shining core of spiritual experience, has lost itself in the obscure mass of its ever extending ambiguous compromises with life: in attempting to satisfy the thinking mind, it more often succeeded in oppressing or fettering it with a mass of theological dogmas; while seeking to net the human heart, it fell itself into pits of pietistic emotionalism and sensationalism; in the act of annexing the vital nature of man to dominate it, it grew itself vitiated and fell a prey to all the fanaticism, homicidal fury, savage or harsh turn for oppression, pullulating falsehood, obstinate attachment to ignorance to which that vital nature is prone; its desire to draw the physical in man towards God betrayed it into chaining itself to ecclesiastic mechanism, hollow ceremony and lifeless ritual.”
Now let us consider this aspect of religion for the devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. But before giving any opinion we must compare some aspects of existing religious communities with that of the followers of Sri Aurobindo. Basically a person to follow and believe in the path of Sri Aurobindo for a meaning and justification of life –does not require coming into any fold of a collective group or community. Actually –there is no external path at all in Sri Aurobindo. There is no creed and we may better say that there can not be any creed and ritual for a person (or a sadhak) who are in the way towards Supramental consciousness. The follower of Sri Aurobindo –if he/she so chooses may live a life without attaching himself/herself to any group or attending any ceremony –even if these are in the name of Sri Aurobindo. A follower of Sri Aurobindo must shun all beliefs, notions, impressions and preferences that he/she has learnt from the society, religion, community, nationality. He or she must make efforts to be bare of all ideas –in order to help the Divine hands to mould him/her in Its own way-contrary to the ways as conceived by human mind. For the first and the last thing in Sri Aurobindo –is to exceed one’s own self –exceeding the very manhood for the attainment of Supermanhood. There is no specific ways to attain it. One must find one’s soul for a true direction and follow it in every movement of life-as ‘All life is yoga’. One need not de-convert one’s religious identity in order to follow Sri Aurobindo.
One may argue that it’s true for all the true destination of all religions-i.e. to stand naked with God. But there is a difference here. One must accept everything that comes to him in the process of life externally and internally in order to transform them. It’s because this a follower Sri Aurobindo does not and can not have any defined form and status of his/her God. Because one must rise beyond the world of Gods and for that matter the world of mind. Sri Aurobindo –time and again warned and advised his disciples and followers –not to make any effort to understand the Supramental consciousness. One must surrender all of one’s life to the Divine. So does it not sound ridiculous that one’s surrendering everything to the Divine –is also a kind of a religion?
Secondly –it may also be argued that a follower of Sri Aurobindo or a believer of his vision of future of humanity is not necessarily a sadhak of Supramental Yoga. There are innumerable persons who are believers of his philosophy but are not active sadhakas. These people are being grouped here and there in the various parts of the world. And as they stand distinctively separate from other religious identities –they are obviously be branded as belonging also to a faith –however great that may be. Whether we like it or not, they, by virtue of believing in a separate way-are helping to form another religion with Sri Aurobindo. But seeing it in that way is missing an important truth relating to psychology of religion. Actually the people belonging to this category are elites in psychology. The very elitism with the truth of Sri Aurobindo is a deterrent to religious movements. Unlike other religious groups they will help creating a psychology in favour of union of different faiths and ways while remaining unbiased above every divisive tendency. These groups of people having a mental inclination for Sri Aurobindo are essential for the hidden Supramental urge –for gradual building of a stimulating base for its actions on the sadhakas and also the humanity in general. But the people belonging to other religions may brand them as belonging to a religion other than the religions they belong to. But at the same time they will not consider them a community harmful to any religious beliefs.
These people will walk and move in the light of a higher consciousness and will never act with any religious impulse. Sri Aurobindo appeared to lift humanity into an integral truth consciousness from this divisive world of mind. If we believe that by accepting the teachings of Sri Aurobindo –we become a part of a separate religion then there lies a serious misunderstanding in our reading of Sri Aurobindo. If any religious-minded person does not feel comfortable amongst a group of followers of Sri Aurobindo then by the person’s religiosity can in no way establish a fact that by refusing to believe in the religious ways of the person the group has its own religion also other than the religion of the person. The Christianity was once enraged by the opinion of Galileo Galilee. This fact can not be explained by a kind of strife between two belief-systems. Galileo was not a follower of any faith in his discovery. He was mere aware of the truth. Aspiration