Tusar Nath Mohapatra

Archive for November 2013

Sri Aurobindo Studies

We see that the Gita repeatedly cautions that one must be free of the action of the Gunas, and move the standpoint of consciousness to one which is calm, equal and not affected by the play of the Gunas or the action of desire that runs after the objects of the senses. It is easy to conceptualize, but hard to accomplish! In the Mahabharata there is a famous story about the education of the Pandava and Kaurava princes by their preceptor Drona. The lesson of the day was “not to become angry” and every day Drona inquired of the 100 or more princes whether they understood the lesson. Everyone said “yes, not to become angry”. Until he got to Arjuna’s eldest brother Yudhisthira, who repeatedly indicated he did not understand the lesson. After this went on for some days, Drona became upset with the royal prince and struck him across…

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Sri Aurobindo Studies

Sri Aurobindo reminds us of various issues or difficulties that arise when we recognize the existence of a Soul separate from Nature. While classical Sankhya simply accepts that when we free ourselves from the illusion of reality created by Nature through the action of the Gunas, we then identify ourselves with the unmoving, unattached Soul which is calm and blissful in its uninvolved status. The question arises then, if action is located with Prakriti (Nature), on what basis does the uninvolved Purusha relate to the action called for by the Gita; and second, if all action is free, why should anyone undertake the kind of ultimately violent action represented by the battle of Kurukshetra?

Sri Aurobindo describes the first concern: “If we say with the Sankhya that the will is in Nature and not in the Self, still there must be a motive in Nature and the power in her…

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Sri Aurobindo Studies

The Gita takes a somewhat different approach than classical Vedanta on the question of the reality of the manifestation and our action in the world. It does not treat the world as in illusion, or something to be rejected; rather, it accepts a basic reality to that manifestation, but at the same time points out that our existence is not limited by that reality, and that we are more than the complex of mind-life-body that we normally accept as the frame of our existence.

The issue then, for the Gita, is how we can shift our stance to the true inner Self and from there, how we can relate to the manifestation of Nature. The Gita accomplishes this by accepting the distinction between the Soul and Nature and showing that the Soul has multiple standpoints, one of which is involved in and bound by the actions of Nature; another which…

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Sri Aurobindo Studies

The Gita distinguishes between our natural being in the ordinary human existence, focused on the objects of the senses and the fulfillment of the desires that arise therefrom; and our spiritual being, free and unattached to the forms and forces of the manifestation. The liberation of the Soul from its subjection to the natural being’s focus and attachments is the effort toward which the Gita continually points.

It is important to understand the mechanism of the subjection we experience in our normal human state of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo explains the process: “In our natural life the first dominating fact is our subjection to the forms of material Nature, the outward touches of things. These present themselves to our life through the senses, and the life through the senses immediately returns upon these objects to seize upon them and deal with them, desires, attaches itself, seeks for results. The mind in…

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Sri Aurobindo Studies

The normal experience we have as human beings leads us to believe that we are exercising our own will and thereby exerting control over our actions and responsible for our destiny. Of course, the normal human experience also holds that the sun rises in the East, rotates around the earth and sets in the West–proving thereby that the normal human perception does not always capture the actual reality of the situation because of the limitations of our standpoint.

When one delves deeper into the question of our exertion of will, one finds that the decisions we take, the actions we engage in are actually part of the elaborate mechanism of Nature working through the three Gunas, or modes, Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. In fact, a close examination shows us that what we believed to be “free will” is very much being determined by the interaction and play of these Modes…

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Sri Aurobindo Studies

We can now see and appreciate the Gita’s approach to spiritual development. The Gita does not ask the seeker to abandon life, or any of the elements that constitute the human being,– mind, life and body. The actual work or actions to be carried out, in fact, may remain the same before realisation and after. The Gita points out that the important change is the status of the consciousness from its normal basis in mind-life-body to the uninvolved consciousness that is outside and independent of the individual ego-personality.

Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “This upward transference of our centre of being and the consequent transformation of our whole existence and consciousness, with a resultant change in the whole spirit and motive of our action, the action often remaining precisely the same in all outward appearances, makes the gist of the Gita’s Karmayoga. Change your being, be reborn into the spirit…

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Sri Aurobindo Studies

The Gita defines “renunciation” as an inner act, not an outer form. Thus, the Gita does not call on the yogin to give up acting in the world; rather, he is to continue to act for the benefit of the entire creation, but from a standpoint that is free and above, not weighted down by attachment to the objects of the senses or the action of the 3 Gunas of Nature.

Sri Aurobindo provides an outstanding recap of the ideal attitude and standpoint of the supreme yogin, starting with a citation from the Gita itself: “He, O Arjuna, who sees with equality everything in the image of the Self, whether it be grief or it be happiness, him I hold to be the supreme Yogin.” Sri Aurobindo explains: “And by this it is not meant at all that he himself shall fall from the griefless spiritual bliss and feel again…

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Tusar N. Mohapatra

Director, Savitri Era Learning Forum
SRA-102-C, Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad - 201014 (UP) India + 91 96500-65636
Aadhaar No. 3628 2075 7337
SELF posits a model of counselling and communicative action as an instrument in order to stimulate the public sphere. The model aims at supplementing the individual’s struggle for a successful social adjustment with more aspirational inputs so as to help one take an informed and balanced attitude towards life as well as society.
Savitri Era of those who adore,
Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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