Recap Chapter 1 – 5 & Chapter XXI Intro

Study Notes

                                                                Chapter 1 to 5 – Recap


  • Ever since the awakening in the thinking process of Man he always aspired for the highest – perfection of himself, God-realisation, Pure Truth, Bliss and Immortality. His aspiration never diminished despite the contrary doubts and scepticism he had to face as witnessed by the earliest human wisdom. Though he has conquered the externalities of nature, he always comes back to his original longings.
  • These ideals seem to be quite abnormal to the material intellect of man. Human intellect seems to have reached its maximum possibilities. It questions the validity of these ideals as opposed to the reality. Yet the Nature gives her seal of approval by the very same opposition.
  • Problems of life are essentially problems of harmony. Disharmony arises due to our perception of unresolved discord and our failure to discover the unity. Nature always seeks harmony. At the levels of matter, life and mind harmony is ensured. Paradoxically greater the discord among the irreconcilable elements stronger is the tendency towards harmony and order.
  • Nature over the course of time have reconciled some of the opposites: Firstly, inactive matter with an active life. Finally, an immortal body supported by life and mind would be the crown of its achievement. Secondly conscious mind versus the less conscious life parts. The final achievement would be, the body possessing the Truth and Light on its own, independent of mind.
  • Life is involved in Matter; Mind in Life. This is Vedantic Truth. Evolution brings out what is involved. Going by the same logic mind will evolve itself into higher states of consciousness which are presently veiled by mind. As animal is a living laboratory working out man, so is man a living and thinking laboratory working out superman.
  • Eternal paradoxes and eternal truths like Man’s possibility to Divine Life, Immortality of body, Yet they are beyond logic. Attempts to dissuade Man in pursuing them met only with failure, with mankind’s return to them with vehemence.
  • To deny a truth because its outward workings are not visible to us is a kind of obscurantism.
  • Man, even as of now, is gifted with higher light of illumined intuition. However, such faculties are hidden in him. Rarely does he get a glimpse of them. Yet Man need not lose heart. He can always aspire to enlarge such faculties.


  • Once we accept the Upanishadic truth “Matter is also Brahman” we begin to see Body and Spirit are one. Physical Universe is the external body of the Divine Being.
  • It would be more satisfying to the rational intellect if we recognise a series of ascending gradations from Matter to Life, Life to Mind, Mind to Supermind to convince the truth that Matter and Spirit are one. If we create division between God and Nature, either we deny God as an illusion or Nature as an illusion. All traditional philosophies created a division between Matter and Spirit.
  • Materialist has an easier option of denying Spirit and accepting only Matter – Monism of Matter. But he cannot take his rigid stand for long. It is only an excuse for not extending the limits of his inquiry beyond matter.
  • All the above concepts lead only to contradictions between Matter and Spirit. But human mind wants affirmation. This can be achieved only by unity through reconciliation.
  • In Europe materialism brought material riches but it led to bankruptcy of Spirit. In India ascetism brought spiritual treasures but led to bankruptcy of life. Now it is the time ripe for the collective humanity for a comprehensive affirmation instead of an exclusive stand either on Matter or Spirit.
  • The denial of materialist is a weak proposition. Its principle is based on the premise that our knowledge cannot extend beyond the domain of senses. The moment it accepts the extra-sensory powers in man materialism loses its ground.
  • Yet the gains of materialistic period should not be lost. Atheism removed the unwanted superstitions covering the spiritual truth. Agnosticism extended the limits of our knowledge.
  • Unknown is not unknowable. Man being a microcosm, there exist in him corresponding faculties to take cognisance of all things unknowable in the Universe.
  • The soul of modern materialism is search for knowledge. Once it marches to cross the barriers of sense knowledge the success achieved in the material domain will be repeated in supra-physical domains also.
  • By whatever path we follow Knowledge tends to become one. Vedantic knowledge says the cosmos is one energy in multiple forms. Modern Science confirms this Truth. Mind, Life and Matter are nothing but one energy triply formulated. It is our ignorance that creates division among them.
  • The material world limits man’s knowledge. The latest progress made in Science has made man less and less dependent on material means. Modern communication works without any intermediary material link. Similarly, when laws of supra-physical are mastered it will open up new avenues of Knowledge, including mind possessing direct control over matter.


  • There is a higher plane of consciousness both to the individual and cosmic consciousness. It is Transcendent consciousness. Against its infinite background the universe looks like a petty picture. From this highest state one can two views. This Consciousness supports the Universe. Or It rejects it. The rejection part forms the theme of this chapter.
  • Materialist insists that the Matter is the sole reality. The Sannyasin is attracted by the pure Spirit. He views the material world having no reality.
  • There are physical realities supra-sensible. There are also senses supra-physical – subtle organs (suksma indriyas). They bring us direct knowledge of both physical and supra-physical world (subtle worlds) without the aid of bodily organs. The methods of obtaining supra-physical knowledge are crude and defective. Yet there is no justification in terming them as false witnesses. The truths perceived through the subtle senses claim the same validity as obtained through physical senses.
  • It is the consciousness that bears witness to the facts that the worlds and the objects exist. We have no other witness. The senses are only instruments of experience.
  • As an extension of the above statement one may argue that the Universe has no independent reality. Only Consciousness exists and observes. As a counter argument one may say the physical universe has independent reality. Life and Mind appear and disappear. The materialistic outlook makes one’s life purposeless. His focus will be turned on enjoyment of his brief life.
  • Again, if we take the other extreme view regarding the unreality of the world we arrive at the same conclusion by another route. We will arrive at escape into a relationless Absolute is the sole means to get rid of life’s problems.
  • Living in our objective physical consciousness we cannot decide on the reality or the unreality of the world. Our present instruments of knowledge are limited. Only by our subjective self which exist independent of our body, which can enlarge itself beyond our body can our consciousness be extended and we can arrive at the Truth. We can extend our consciousness by inner enlargement from individual to cosmic existence and then to Supramental.
  • Consciousness and Being are one. The world is real because it exists in consciousness. The Conscious Being is something which transcends the universe. World lives by That.
  • As one enters the gate of the Transcendent one experiences the pure Self of the Adwaitin – without scars of division, luminous, the inactive Brahman, the transcendent Silence. When a yogi suddenly transported to this state he is driven to the state of unreality of the world. He gets the most convincing experience of Silence as the sole reality.
  • In this perception of the pure Self begins the starting point of second negation – the refusal of the ascetic. It is more complete, more final and more perilous in its negative influence on the humanity and its collectivity.
  • With the birth of Buddhism the balance between the spiritual life and the material life existed during the Vedic times was disturbed. Sannyasa was preached as ultimate goal of life. Cessation from birth was the aim of living. Yet the ascetic spirit is indispensable for human perfection from animality.
  • Finally, we need a larger affirmation. One without a second should be read with All is Brahman. The ascetic does not relate the ascending movement with the descending response by the Divine.
  • Sri Aurobindo emphasises that the gains of materialism and asceticism should not be overlooked. We must retain the positive sides of both while rejecting the negative aspects.


  • Taittriya Upanishad – It is possible to experience Brahman as the Reality that is omnipresent. It is equally possible to experience Brahman as not this Existence alone but something more – Brahman the Non-Being. If one confines to the Brahman the Non-Being he sees the Brahman as Reality and the whole world as not existent. If one realises Brahman is all and is everywhere his life gains significance.
  • Cosmic consciousness is a meeting-place where Matter becomes real to Spirit, Spirit becomes real to Matter. Mind and Life are divided at our individual level. In cosmic consciousness they become the instruments of the supreme Conscious Being.
  • Transcendent consciousness is still higher to cosmic consciousness. The Silent, Static Brahman at the Transcendent and the Active Brahman in manifestation are two aspects of one Brahman. They are not different.
  • Beyond Transcendent Being there is Non-Being. Non-Being is not Non-existence. It is a wrong interpretation, on which is based the Nihil (Void,Shunya) of certain Buddhist schools.
  • Only our words create distinction between Non-Being and Being. Both represent the same reality. Non-being represents something beyond and something more than what is known as Being. Zero is not negation but It represents the indefinable infinite that appears to mind as blank. Because mind can grasp only the finite.
  • Our narrowness of experience in mind impose limitations on Brahman. It concentrates one aspect of Brahman denying all the rest. Our egoistic opinions and partial experiences affirm the one and deny the rest.
  • The Unknowable is something which continually formulates Itself to our consciousness and continually escapes from the formulation It has made. It is not an act of magic. Omnipresent Reality is Brahman and not an omnipresent cause of illusions.
  • The true Adwaita, real Monism admits all things as one Brahman. Not as, Brahman and not-Brahman, Self and not-self. Brahman is self-conscient All and not a limited personality.
  • We cannot suppose that Brahman is compelled by something outside Itself; nor does it submit itself to something partial within Itself. Both are contradictions of an All. There is something in the Universe that wills the manifestation.
  • Whatever is willed in the world has been ultimately willed by the Brahman. Our relative consciousness baffled by evil, ignorance and pain in the cosmos seeks to deliver Brahman from responsibility for Itself and erects some opposite principle like Maya or conscious devil or principle of evil.
  • If world is an illusion or dream it is originated and willed by the Self. Brahman is Reality. Dream existing in Brahman is also reality. Dream, illusion are tricks of speech. They both represent and misrepresent the truth.
  • Non-Being on one hand and the Universe on the other represent the same Omnipresent reality- obverse and reverse affirmations. With the liberation of our intelligence and experience all the dualities of the universe will be resolved into Sachchidananda.


  • To enjoy self-manifestation Brahman has entered into forms of material substance. Life exists to discover Brahman. The role of man is to impart consciousness to the world to discover Brahman and to transform itself. Divine existence is his objective.
  • Individual regards himself separate from the Universe and the Transcendent. We give the name of God to the Transcendent who is considered extra-cosmic (outside the universe) not supra- cosmic (part of the universe yet exceeding it). Both the universe and individual are considered inferior to Transcendent. Individual and cosmos cease to exist after individual attains enlightenment. This is the exaggerated view of the ascetic.
  • Unity of Brahman is integral. Individual, universe and transcendent are equal. Preservation of individual activities is quite consistent with his attaining cosmic or transcendent consciousness. Transcendent embraces the universe and the universe include the individual. Individual is the centre of the whole universe.
  • The individual is necessary for the action of the Divine in the world. On attaining God realisation, action in him does not stop. Continuation of the God-realised individual in the world is a necessary condition for the Divine play in the world. If his exit is the law, then the world will continue to suffer in darkness & death.
  • Salvation of individual soul from the illusory bondage is the ascetic philosophy. Neither the Divine nor the world profits by such an escape. Only the individual soul benefits by escape into Peace and Bliss. Individual, escaping from his ego for his own salvation is again a supreme act of egoism.
  • This paradox can be resolved only when we reconcile the opposition between the Self and the world. We must accept the Divine unity of the Manifested. The Divine is bound neither by its unity nor by its multiplicity.
  • The liberation of the individual is the keynote action of the divine. Individual serves as a pivot and point of light. The liberated soul is in unity with both the Transcendent One(vertical) and the Cosmic Many(horizontal). Through the lateral unity with the Many the liberated divine soul reproduces itself in similar liberated souls. One soul’s liberation extends to many. This is the Destiny of the Individual.
  • We being Brahman can attain to the highest and yet be active in the world. The harmony between inner liberation and the outward action is the condition of Divine Life. Inner liberty by exclusion of outer life is a path of negation; we reject what God has accepted.

                                                                Chapter XXI
                                                            The Ascent of Life

Let the path of the Word lead to the godheads, towards the Waters by the working of the Mind.

                                                                                                                                  Rig Veda: X.30.1



     The Word is a creative Power that builds. All creation has been shaped by the Word which is the Sound-body of Brahman. The Power not only brings out the finite worlds out of the bosom of the Infinite, but also it hews the path along which the growth, the evolution of the manifesting Consciousness takes place. It is the path that leads from inconscience to superconscience through several stages of the self-formulation of the emerging Consciousness. This path laid down in the truth of the Real-Idea leads to progressive manifestations of Brahman, to the realms of successive godheads who are the cosmic functionaries put out by the Supreme. Eg: Agni, Indra, Varuna. Through the kingdoms of the Gods, the path leads towards the pure Waters of Consciousness above the reaches of terrestrial ignorance. The creative Conscious-Force projects itself first in the form of material Energy and gradually reveals itself as the Force of Life. Out of Life emerges the submerged Mind, a higher grade of the self-formulation of the Conscious-Force and this Mind-Power marks the stage at which Life becomes self-aware, and the evolutionary movement acquires a self-direction. Mind, the manomaya purusha assumes the leadership of the material and the vital creation and leads it towards still higher formulations of the Consciousness-Force, Chit. The Mind directs the evolving being towards the Waters of Superconscience through its conscious ascent up the ladder of Existence.
     In the Vedic symbolism the flowing Waters stand for currents of Consciousness ever on the move.

O Flame, thou goest to the ocean of Heaven, towards the gods; thou makest to meet together the godheads of the planes, the waters that are in the realm of light above the sun and the waters that abide below.

                                                                                                                                 Rig Veda: III.22.3


     The Flame is Agni, the Seer-Will, the divine Knowledge-Power that leads the evolution of man and earth towards the infinity of the Supreme, towards the realms of the higher Gods. It is Agni that successively brings the various Gods to birth in the being of the seeker and harmonises them in his consciousness. Indra, the God of the divine Mind, Varuna the God of the vast ocean of conscious existence, Mitra, the God of harmony and Love – these and more are invoked and established in their integrated workings in the evolving consciousness of man. So too the various flowings of Consciousness-Force in the higher hemisphere are joined to the flowings on the planes in the lower hemisphere. The Flame-Power first reaches the Sun of the Supramental Truth and from there harmonises the activities of Sat, Chit, Ananda above with those of Mind, Life, and Matter below. Agni does not merely ascend in the consciousness of man; he integrates each level of consciousness with the next higher and relates the truth of the higher with the workings of the lower. Agni connects earth with heaven, man with Gods. As he ascends, he builds a ladder that spans the two ends of existence. He does not allow any gulf to remain between the two. The course of Agni is not a flight but a steady forging of a path from below to the peaks.

The Lord of Delight conquers the third status; he maintains and governs according to the Soul of universality; like a hawk, a kite he settles on the vessel and uplifts it, a finder of the Light he manifests the fourth status and cleaves to the ocean that is the billowing of those waters.

                                                                                                                          Rig Veda: IX:96.18,19



     Emerging from the first status in materiality, the cosmic principle of Delight rises into the second status of vitality, the Life-Force. From concentration in itself, Ananda spreads out and seeks to multiply itself by devouring other forms of Ananda. With the establishment of Mind, the third status, there are the beginnings of oneness, awareness of the universality of things; Love sprouts as a manifestation of Delight in common life. Through Love, Ananda seizes the evolving being and raises it in consciousness across the purified heights of mental existence where the Delight of oneness flows from all sides, Soma ascends in the being of man to the fourth status, the plane of Truth, the world of Mahas, the realm of Light. These are the waters of Truth-consciousness streaming into the Great Ocean. Maho-Arnah, of luminous Knowledge and Will.
     Underlying all existence is the principle of Ananda. Soma, the Lord of Ananda is there even in the atom though not overtly articulate. That is the first status: self-concentration. He enters his second status in the emergence of Life: he moves all around in what appears to us as clash and strife for self-enlargement. He rises into his third station in the kingdom of Mind: he spreads on the wings of love and on the strength of the increasing harmony so established, he soars into the world of Light, the fourth status: he uplifts man to the Truth-plane and launches him on the ocean waters of luminous Knowledge and irresistible Ananda.

Thrice Vishnu paced and set his step uplifted out of the primal dust; three steps he has paced, the Guardian, the Invincible, and from beyond he upholds their laws. Scan the workings of Vishnu and see from whence he has manifested their laws. That is his highest pace which is seen ever by the seers like an eye extended in heaven; that the illumined, the awakened kindle into a blaze, even Vishnu’s step supreme. . .

                                                                                                                           Rig Veda: I: 22.17.21



     In three great steps, evolutionary movements, Vishnu the supreme Godhead spans the entire material world, life-world, and mind-world. He starts from the ground of Matter and covers up the planes of the Mind. Though he thus pervades the three worlds, his vast being is not exhausted by them. He towers still higher above them and from his lofty station he oversees the workings of the Laws he has laid for the progression of the three worlds. The Laws are from above, eternal. He protects the worlds from all antagonists, he is unconquerable in the force of his Truth.
     The Truth of his governance, the basis of his Laws, are in his fourth station, the world of Light, Mahas. There he stands forever, the Source of all light and power. He is stationed in this ‘certain fourth’, turiyam swid, he is always ablaze on the highest meridian of the skies of Consciousness, like an Eye extended in heaven. The seers, the Wise ones, who have the inner sight behold his focus of Light ever and always; there is no night to interrupt this shining Sun of the supramental Truth. The awakened and illumined ones kindle this Sun on the summits of their own being and spread its blaze. This is the fourth and the highest step of the evolving Godhead above the triple world of Matter-Life-Mind.