Chapter XXVIII : Supermind, Mind and the Overmind Maya – Para 1

Study Notes

     (Note: This chapter was not there originally when Sri Aurobindo wrote in the Arya, but it was added later while revising the first version. It deals largely with the overmind and overmind power)

     There is a Permanent, a Truth hidden by a Truth where the Sun unyokes his horses. The ten hundreds (of his rays) came together—That One. I saw the most glorious of the Forms of the Gods.
                                                                                                                                   Rig Veda. 5.62. 1

     The face of Truth is hidden by a golden lid; that remove, O Fostering Sun, for the Law of the Truth, for sight. O Sun, O sole Seer, marshal thy rays, gather them together,—let me see of thee thy happiest form of all; that Conscious Being everywhere, He am I.
                                                                                                                         Isha Upanishad. 15,16


                                                               HIDDEN BY A GOLDEN LID

     In the movement towards manifestation the Sat-chit-ananda poises itself in a status where it assembles all the truths that are to be put out from its infinite Being, it undergoes a self-limitation,so to say, in selecting some verities of the infinite number it holds in its bosom. This concentration is the seed, the Real-Idea of what is to manifest, individually and collectively. This status is the supermind, the supramental truth-consciousness which holds all truths in a solid harmony: the One disporting itself as the Many and the Many ever conscious of their being so many poises of the One. This is the realm of the supramental Purusha, the Perfect, the Luminous, the Master of all.
     In the next downward movement, the consciousness undergoes a self-development by which the each of the Many is given full freedom to go on its own career, irrespective of others; there is still the Oneness but it is put in the background, the manyness predominates. This status is the overmind which acts as a sort of luminous veil over the Supermind.
     It is called golden because it is lit by the light of the Truth though it is not itself the truth. It stands in front of the luminous Sun of Truth and prevents the direct vision of the Sun from the Creation below. It also intervenes between the Creation and Law of Truth that reigns in the supramental. It is only when the dispersed rays of the Sun forming the Maya of the Overmind are drawn together and set in their natural harmony – marshalled, that the unclouded and auspicious Form of the supreme Godhead is seen. And this form is the most glorious of all forms, the happiest of all forms that the creative Spirit assumes.
     This is not the last revelation that awaits man. At the instant he beholds this fairest Form there leaps in himself a sudden recognition that the Divine Godhead is none other than himself. Indeed he cannot come to this recognition unless he has been prepared by successive transformations of consciousness in his being from level to level in the journey of his ascension towards the Sun of Truth.
     This is a notable instance of the same spiritual and mystic experience finding expression in the Veda and the Upanishad. What is cryptic, implicit in the utterance of the Vedic Rishi is made explicit in the invocation of the Seer of a later age, in a language that is less symbolic, more direct.

The Truth, the Right, the Vast.
                                                                                                                    Atharva Veda.12.1.1
                                                    SATYAM, RITAM, BRIHAT

     This status of the Sat-chit-ananda as the Supramental, vignana has three characteristics. It is satyam, the essential Truth of existence. This Truth is the bedrock of all that exists and all that goes beyond our conceptions of formal existence. It is sat. It is also the same Truth in dynamic action, ritam. It is the ordered truth of active being, the law of Truth in becoming. Right is the functioning of the Truth. It is this Vedic ritam that has come to be known as Dharma in the later evolution of the Indian Spirit: the Law that holds a thing in its status, whether of being or becoming.
     What is essentially true, dynamically true, can have no limits. It is boundless in consciousness whatever formulation it may accept for purposes of action in manifestation. It is the Vast, brihat. The disportment in form is only a willed, purposive narrowing of itself for the play; it does not detract from the inherent vastitude of the supramental being or consciousness.
     All these three verities must be present where the supermind existence is. It may be noted that there is a close correspondence between these three terms of manifestation and the three aspects of Sat-chit-ananda. Satya corresponds to sat, Ritam to chit (shakti); Brihat to ananda; what is vast, infinite in its free extension, without bounds, is Delight, bhumaiva sukham, the vast is felicity.

It became both truth and falsehood. It became the Truth, even all this that is.
                                                                                                                       Taittiriya Upanishad 2.6

                                                                 TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD

     In its Becoming, the Divine Being affirms itself in all possible statuses, not only what we term the positive, but also their opposite possibilities so as to convert them back into their original truths. All are terms of the Being’s manifestation. The Reality being One, there can be no other. The Reality must be sought even in what appear to be its opposites which are infact its own masks. Thus the Divine Being affirms itself as truth; but it is also the truth in the making in the process of creation, the partial truth, the misplaced truth, the deformed truth. Both truth as we know it and falsehood as we convict it, are changing affirmations of the Reality, changing because this manifestation is not static, it is ever growing, evolving. All that we see- and do not see with our physical faculties- is Brahman on the move: it is He who is abroad.
     Till we reach the status of the supermind which is unveiled Truth-Will, all is mixed, a developing field of the innumerable possibles jostling for actualisation in the extended Self of the Divine Being. Even what strikes us as undivine is divine operating under a temporary mask, light under the cover of darkness, truth under the veil of error or untruth.
All is essentially the Truth though all is not the full truth at every moment.

(Source: Shri M.P.Pandit: Legends in the Life Divine, p. 89-93, Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)


     ONE POINT remains to be cleared which we have till now left in obscurity, the process of the lapse into the Ignorance; for we have seen that nothing in the original nature of Mind, Life or Matter necessitates a fall from Knowledge. It has been shown indeed that division of consciousness is the basis of the Ignorance, a division of individual consciousness from the cosmic and the transcendent of which yet it is an intimate part, in essence inseparable, a division of Mind from the supramental Truth of which it should be a subordinate action, of Life from the original Force of which it is one energism, of Matter from the original Existence of which it is one form of substance.


     We have seen that Mind, Life and Matter are essentially the aspects of Sat-chit-ananda. However they work in Ignorance in this physical world. Yet, there remains the question: how the lower triple aspects lapsed into Ignorance? The original nature of Mind, Life or Matter does not necessitate such a fall from Knowledge.
     It has been shown that division of consciousness is the basis of Ignorance. The individual consciousness is divided from the cosmic and the transcendent consciousness; yet it is an intimate part of them and inseparable in essence.
     Mind is divided from the supramental Truth of which it should be a subordinate action. Life is divided from the original Force (Chit-shakti) of which it is one energism. Matter is divided from the original Existence (Sat) of which it is one form of substance.

But it has still to be made clear how this division came about in the Indivisible, by what peculiar self-diminishing or self-effacing action of Consciousness-Force in the Being: for since all is a movement of that Force, only by some such action obscuring its own plenary light and power can there have arisen the dynamic and effective phenomenon of the Ignorance.


     Sri Aurobindo begins this chapter by asking what was the necessity that led to this great difference between the higher three terms of Sat-chit-ananda and the lower three terms of Matter-Life-Mind. Because the lower ones are after all only subordinate powers of the higher principles.
     We know that Sachchidananda is Oneness which is indivisible. Therefore, it has to be made clear how the division came about in the Indivisible. The division was caused by self-diminishing or self-effacing action of Consciousness-Force in the Being. What is that peculiar action of the Force?
     We know that all is a movement of the Consciousness-Force (Chit-shakti) in the universe. There must be some action obscuring its own absolute light and power. The dynamic and effective phenomenon of the Ignorance can arise only by such an action.

But this problem can be left over to be treated in a more close examination of the dual phenomenon of Knowledge-Ignorance which makes our consciousness a blend of light and darkness, a half-light between the full day of the supramental Truth and the night of the material Inconscience. All that is necessary to note at present is that it must be in its essential character an exclusive concentration on one movement and status of Conscious Being, which puts all the rest of consciousness and being behind and veils it from that one movement’s now partial knowledge.


     Our consciousness is a blend of light and darkness; it is a half-light between the full day of the supramental Truth and the night of the material Inconscience. This is caused by the dual phenomenon of Knowledge-Ignorance. Only by a close examination of this dual phenomenon, the problem of division can be traced to its origin. Sri Aurobindo deals with this problem in detail in the Book 2 of the Life Divine.
     At present, for our discussion we may take note of the following fact: an exclusive concentration on one movement and status is in the essential character of Conscious Being. This exclusive concentration puts all the rest of consciousness and being behind. It is a one-movement which obtains a partial knowledge. This exclusive movement veils the rest of the consciousness from the partial knowledge.
     (The divine consciousness is so much lost in its concentration in the material atom that it is aware of nothing else, it is lost in itself. And this leads to an effective division between itself and others, it loses sight of the fact that the consciousness in one form is the same consciousness which is in other million forms. It regards them as separate, because by this exclusive concentration it has lost its unity, its touch with others – Shri M.P.Pandit: Talks on the Life Divine: p. 174)