Saturday, August 15, 2009

Waving the Flag of Cosmic Ignorance in the Face of Sri Aurobindo and the Vedic Tradition of Avatars


Tusar N. Mohapatra, founder and editor of Savitri Era Open Forum (a forum ‘of those who adore Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’) recently wrote a short article for his blog which began:
‘The divine manifestation of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is an unprecedented phenomenon which can't be explained by past mythological instances or received metaphysical formulations. Parameters of perennial philosophy or speculative prophecies like eternal recurrence fall flat here. All talk of the Messiah, the Tirthankar or the Avatar is idle intellectual approximations.’ [Link to full article]
He does not mention what has prompted him to pronounce this tremendous decree, but it is not difficult to hazard a guess in this regard. In May of 2009 Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) published a book titled, Secrets of the Earth: Questions and Answers on the Line of Ten Avatars of Vedic Tradition. It is she who discusses Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s yoga, as well as her own, in the light of ‘perennial’ ‘metaphysical’ formulations and mythology. It is she who ‘explains’ Sri Aurobindo’s role as the 9th Avatar of Vishnu based on the terms of the Vedic Sacrifice (i.e. the Tropical Zodiac), which is through and through a cosmological framework for the evolution of consciousness and material existence. In The Hidden Manna Thea discusses the ‘Revelation’ or prophecy of St. John as a zodiacal text written in the Age of Pisces which details the inevitable coming of the 9th Avatar of Vishnu the Preserver in the Age of Aquarius.

So there is little doubt as to the line of thought (or in this case the circle of thought) that Mr. Mohapatra wishes to squash. In the few lines above, he combines Peter Heehs’ disregard for Sri Aurobindo’s avatarhood with the larger disregard for the cosmological component of the Supramental and Integral yogas shared by all those who do not see Thea as an extension of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s yogic consciousness and mission.

If one reads between the lines of his full August 8th 2009 post, Mr. Mohapatra is basically ‘saying’ that readers need to look no further than Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for Supramental knowledge because ‘the Mother & Sri Aurobindo have already accomplished the metaphysical victory.’ He ends the post with the encouragement, ‘Savitri Erans must lift their flags high enough for others to spot ....’

If he had not closed himself off to further victories of the ‘Supramental Descent’ beyond the life and passing of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, he may well have written, ‘Savitri Erans should read Secrets of the Earth and consider for themselves whether or not the divine manifestation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is in essence connected to an evolutionary arc stretching both far into the past as well as far into the future, – an arcing or cyclical progression that is embedded deep in the ancient texts and mythologies of the world. But clearly Mr. Mohapatra, Peter Heehs and many others in the Integral Yoga community have not exhibited an interest in understanding such a grand evolutionary arc, progression or continuity as is recognized in the Vedic/Hindu tradition of the Dasavataras. Such an interest would change the landscape of everything in their world for the better. They would, for starters, achieve a more profound understanding of the word ‘Integral.’ But alas, certain mindsets refuse to believe that a divine-consciousness could be so pervasive as to be capable of coordinating evolution ‘like clockwork’ or would be so precise as to follow a real schedule of progressive stages or ages of growth.

In Secrets of the Earth Thea discusses the Dasavataras or Vishnu’s ten emanations as ‘Evolutionary Avatars’ whose purpose is to lift the veils of the cosmic ignorance and to ‘re-set the cosmic clock’ (i.e. to remind the world that the Divine consciousness IS so pervasive and so precise that it organizes evolution ‘like clockwork’ spread over thousands of years). This tradition is well summarized by Subhamoy Das:

‘The [Vedic/Hindu] scriptures speak of the 10 Avatars of Vishnu – different incarnations that take the form of divine intervention provided by Vishnu during the various stages of human evolution. The “dasavatara” (ten avatars) is meant to re-establish dharma or righteousness and destroy tyranny and injustice on earth.’

Dasavatara can also be translated as ‘ten descents’ or ‘ten emanations’ of Vishnu. Vishnu is known by many names, including Lord of the Cosmos, Lord of the Discus, the Preserver, Vasudeva (all-pervading God), and Narayana (he whose abode is ether; the whole world’s shelter). In Secrets of the Earth Thea introduces irrefutable evidence that the Ten Avatars of Vishnu can only be properly understood against the backdrop of the 360 degree Vedic Sacrifice. In The Secret of the Veda Sri Aurobindo wrote of the Vedic Sacrifice as being the Earth’s year divided into 12 months, representative of 12 stages of the larger evolutionary journey by which Man wins or recovers the divine consciousness and establishes a ‘Golden Age’ on Earth. Thea goes many steps further in bringing light to the cosmological significance of the Veda and proves that the Vedic Sacrifice describes, not just any 12 month year, but specifically the 12 month year as measured by the Tropical Zodiac and the 12 astrological ages of the Great Year (i.e. the 25,920-year Precession of the Equinoxes divided into 12 ages of 2160 years each).

These cosmological correspondences and realities are presented in Secrets of the Earth for any who wish to approach an all-integrating view in which the formative mythologies and ‘metaphysical formulations’ of the past, including the Tropical Zodiac and the zodiacal ‘mythology’ of the Ten Avatars of Vishnu, are in no way separate from a real evolutionary process which we are living in the present, and in no way separate from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Supramental Descent.’ Mr. Mohapatra, Peter Heehs, and many others who have taken the Integral Yoga or Integral idea of Sri Aurobindo and ‘made it their own’ or ‘ran with it’, so to speak, seem to have no wish or interest in approaching this all-integrating view. They would rather disregard mythologies and formulations which they don’t understand and can’t find a place for in their ‘Integral’ view and start anew based on the range of material and spiritual reality that they do understand. They do not understand at all that the Earth’s own geometries, cycles and evolutionary journey in time cannot be left out of an Integral Yoga.

Hence, the flag that Mr. Mohapatra wants his readers to wave high is (unbeknownst to him) a flag of supreme cosmic ignorance. It is a flag that says something to the effect that, ‘We don’t care a hoot about cosmology! Yes, we see that the Mother’s Symbol is a series of three concentric circles, the outer ring divided into twelve petals, the middle ring into four petals and the inner circle undivided; but that has nothing to do with the twelve months of the year and its four season, nothing to do with the Tropical Zodiac, nothing to do with the organization, evolution and progressive divination of the material world, nothing to do with cosmology, and nothing to do with the structure of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s divine manifestation.’ This flag has already been raised sky high (and world-wide) by Aurovillians who built, celebrated, promoted and garnered massive donations for ‘The Mother’s Temple’ knowing that they diverted from the sacred measurement the Mother gave them in her blueprints. The message this community has clearly conveyed for close to forty years is, ‘We don’t give a hoot if the temple was not built according to the Mother’s blueprints because we don’t believe that measurements matter in matters of consciousness. We don’t believe that the temple is a representation of Cosmic Truths that demand precision in their execution. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are bigger than such minutia in detail and we are happy with our creation.’

If they began to educate themselves in cosmological matters they would be amazed to find that the Mother’s Symbol actually speaks of Vishnu in its design. If her symbol is seen as the 25,920-year cycle of the Precession of the Equinoxes, the spokes of the Mother’s four petals point directly to the astrological ages wherein the emanations of Vishnu the Preserver descend into the evolutionary matrix. After seeing this, could anyone who adores Sri Aurobindo and the Mother be so entirely sure that their descent and their mission has nothing to do with Vishnu’s Line of Avatars? [Please refer to the ‘Addendum.’]

One wonders if any of the negators of Sri Aurobindo’s avatarhood will ever begin to connect the dots and remember the importance of Krishna, the 8th Avatar of Vishnu, in Sri Aurobindo’s life and mission? Will they remember that Sri Aurobindo’s own widely celebrated Siddhi Day (24 November 1926) was actually the day when Krishna, the 8th Avatar of Vishnu, descended into his body? Will they remember Sri Aurobindo’s profound experience of Krishna and Vishnu during his time in the Alipore jail and still think the notion of avataric lineage is asinine?

In his 30 May 1909 Uttarpara Speech Sri Aurobindo described being spiritually awakened by God/Krishna/Vishnu, saying that God gave him the Bhagavad-Gita (the epic tale of Krishna guiding Arjuna to fight a necessary battle) and showed him the deep significance of the Hindu religion and the Sanatana Dharma. He spoke these words which guided his life and mahayoga from then on out:
I realised what the Hindu religion meant. We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatan Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatan Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived.

This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great.

Therefore this was the next thing He pointed out to me. He made me realise the central truth of the Hindu religion. He turned the hearts of my jailors to me and they spoke to the Englishman in charge of the jail, "He is suffering in his confinement; let him at least walk outside his cell for half an hour in the morning and in the evening." So it was arranged, and it was while I was walking that His strength again entered into me. I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me.

I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me his shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper vision He gave me.

I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers, and as I looked at them I saw Vasudeva, it was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies. Amongst these thieves and dacoits there were many who put me to shame by their sympathy, their kindness, the humanity triumphant over such adverse circumstances.

One I saw among them especially, who seemed to me a saint, a peasant of my nation who did not know how to read and write, an alleged dacoit sentenced to ten years' rigorous imprisonment, one of those whom we look down upon in our Pharisaical pride of class as Chhotalok. Once more He spoke to me and said, "Behold the people among whom I have sent you to do a little of my work. This is the nature of the nation I am raising up and the reason why I raise them."
Sri Aurobindo’s profound experience of Vishnu surrounding him, protecting him and guiding him 100 years ago in the Alipore jail should truly give his students (and others) reason to pause and consider the real cosmological significance of Sri Aurobindo’s avataric lineage and the real nature of his avataric mission to re-animate and uplift India’s forgotten and/or distorted wisdom.

But alas, many do not pause and consider their narrow point of view on these important matters and Tusar N. Mohapatra encourages his readers to remain ignorant. He cannot see why anyone in their right spiritual mind would engage in such ‘idle intellectual approximations’ as to link Sri Aurobindo to the consciousness-force (never mind to the astrological age) of Vishnu. But if per chance, through consideration and yoga, this link is made, the massive integrality of the whole of existence (past, present and future) becomes tangible and the mind opens like a flower towards the Sun.

On that note I will close this piece with an excerpt from ‘Hymn of the Golden Age’, translated by Sri Aurobindo in 1915 and originally written by Nammalwar, one of twelve vaishnava seers or poets who lived some 5,000 years ago according to Tamil tradition. Vaishnava means ‘lover of Vishnu.’ In this hymn, ‘the Lord’ is Vishnu.
The hosts of our Lord who reclines on the sea of Vastness, behold them thronging hither. Meseems they will tear up all these weeds of grasping cults. And varied songs do they sing, our Lord’s own hosts, as they dance falling, sitting, standing, marching, leaping, bending.

And many are the wondrous sights that strike mine eyes. As by magic have Vishnu’s hosts come in and firmly placed themselves everywhere. Nor doubt it, ye fiends and demons, if, born such be in our midst, take heed! ye shall never escape. For the Spirit of Time will slay and fling you away.

These hosts of the Lord of the Discus, they are here to free this earth of the devourers of Life, Disease and Hunger and vengeful Hate and all other things of evil. And sweet are their songs as they leap and dance extending wide over earth. Go forth, ye lovers of God and meet these hosts divine; with right minds serve them and live.
Lord Vishnu with Bhudevi and Sridevi
resting on the ‘Sea of Vastness’
and on Sheshnag (the coils of time).


[Link to Addendum: Vishnu in the Mother's Symbol and in Sri Aurobindo's The Secret of the Veda]

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