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SRI AUROBINDO – Nirodbaran

Correspondence with
Sri Aurobindo

Volume 1. 1936 (January-May)

January 2, 1936

R asks me to send you these medical reports of G.

Reports no use unless the medical hieroglyphics are interpreted.

Today P came for her eyes. All on a sudden she burst into sobs – God knows why!

God doesn’t.

P is a sort of weeping machine – touch a spring even unintentionally and it starts off.


January 3, 1936

I am sending the 4 reports – 3 on urine and 1 on blood. The first ones will give you an idea of the progress of the disease up to the present stage of cure. You will see that blood-urea has come down to normal. Albumin – an abnormal product in the urine – is present indicating heart-failure in the absence of any kidney lesion. The presence of blood in the urine is due to the same reason. I hope this set of “hieroglyphics” is now as clear as water.

I am afraid it is not so clear, though it is sufficiently watery. What I wanted to know was whether there had been such a miraculous change as Valle and the Pondicherry doctors seem to say and which were the medical facts on which they based their opinion – in other words whether the Force had really acted or not and, if so, to what extent – of course from the “pathological” point of view; for it is evident that the man is not dead and is in much better health than before. He had nephritis, blood-pressure, albumin and a number of other pleasant things whether as “symptoms” or as root-illnesses. I gather that these have gone practically. But I also gather or seem to from your remarks that G’s appearance does not amount to much. But I am not clear about that. However, it is not of much importance.

This year is said to be your brightest year according to the horoscope, Sir.

Horoscope by whom? According to a famous Calcutta astrologer (I have forgotten his name) my biggest time comes much later, though the immediately ensuing period is also remarkable. Like doctors, astrologers differ.

But whatever miracle might happen, I don’t see any chance for my caravan!

Too many dogs of depression bark?

What about B.P.’s work? Forgetfulness?

Not forgetfulness; but these things are not always easy to arrange.


January 4, 1936

A is suffering from chronic dysentery. Shall we give emetine injections?

Mother does not favour emetine, it is not without its disadvantages, at least from our point of view.

Please read C’s letter regarding M.S.’s opinion on your philosophy. But I don’t understand how a man who is supposed to be an authority on your Yogic philosophy can compare your Yoga with Ramakrishna’s!

In a way he is, i.e. he is an authority on his own ideas about my Yogic philosophy. But from whom can you expect more than that?

Yes, but he is an authority on my philosophy, not on my Yoga. There is a difference.

Why, Sir, G’s reports not so clear? Judging from the pathological reports alone [3.1.36] the change is nothing short of a miracle, leaving out the possibility of an intercurrent affection which might take him away.

I am interested to see today that Valle pronounces “a perfect cure” – according to R, heart and pulse normal at 70-72, blood tension normal, oedema of feet, chill and headache gone, while kidney of interstitial nephritis of 8 years standing cured, urinary symptoms normal, enough vitality to walk on verandah and attend business freely, solid food from tomorrow. He has asked R to look in now and again – perhaps to be sure that solid food does not upset him. But all the same this is more than I expected as yet, though not more than I tried for – for one should always in these things have moderate expectations but a big endeavour. I don’t overlook the possibility of a fall back or a sudden catastrophe by a reverse movement; but if he can stand normal diet and not go to excess again, he may live longer than was at all probable on any rational forecast before. Let us see.

But there is chronic heart-failure, and a chronic high pressure has altered the condition of the vessels so that a normal healthy life is impossible...

That is not impossible to alter. It is doubtful because G is not a favourable subject and sheer matter (this is a very material degeneration) is not yet conquered. But all the same I have myself been surprised by the massive rapidity and scrupulous exactness (an unusual combination) of G’s responses in this rather extravagant experiment. It is why I gave much of the credit to R’s mediumship and the rapid action (that I find undeniable) of his drugs.

Too many dogs of depression, Sir, too many! And not only dogs, but cats and jackals and a host of other friends have made my life a misery!

Why are you so fond of this menagerie as to keep it with you? Turn them out into the street. Or, if that is not charitable to others, drown them in the sea. Don’t shake your sorrowful head and say it is easier to say than to do. It is quite possible. It is only the Man of Sorrows that prevents it.


January 5, 1936

I had a look at J’s rashes and eczema with your questionnaire on it. Since our treatment is only symptomatic I wonder if we can try R.

I am not very enthusiastic about this idea. R demands an implicit obedience from his patients which J would not give – and they would certainly clash very soon. There are other reasons also.

When a medicine is a specific, it is scientifically supposed to be active on one particular disease and therefore quite successful; for instance emetine in dysentery and quinine in malaria. But you don’t give your approval even though these medicines are specifics in these particular diseases.

It is not enough for a medicine to be a specific. Certain drugs have other effects or possible effects which can be ignored by the physician who only wants to cure his case, but cannot be in a whole-view of the system and its reactions. The unfavourable reactions of quinine are admitted by medical opinion itself and doctors in Europe have been long searching for a substitute for quinine.

Z complains of vomiting, giddiness etc. I’m afraid these three Punjabi brothers and sister are rather – I mean physically.

Very bad health, all of them. The “stalwart Panjabi” is not much in evidence. One of the type who came could not progress. Another was tall but thin and ill. These –

I send a poem retouched by Nishikanta. Do put a few of your comments against the lines or expressions which are not quite right.

That is beyond me. I can only give my personal impression which amounts to “I like it exceeding well”.


January 6, 1936

Henceforth I shall send you two note-books: one exclusively for medical reports and the other for personal matters.

Yes, this will be very good.

I hope this innovation won’t be a burden to you – I won’t report about small cuts and bruises, of course.

No burden at all.

Now, I would like to have your expert and thoroughly satisfying opinion on the following question:

There has often been a discussion and hence a difference of opinion on the relative greatness of different branches of Art. Some of us are disposed to think of music as the highest; poetry, painting, architecture, sculpture, embroidery following thus in order of merit. Though one may not agree to such a classification, still because of the universality and most direct appeal of music, cannot one give it preference? Poetry is rather limited in its scope and painting even more so. They have to be understood in order to be appreciated in their fullest measure whereas music, apart from the technical aspect which is not absolutely obligatory for an appeal, need not. You know of the stories of beasts and snakes being charmed, not to speak of the hard-hearted Yamaraja, by music! Take your Love and Death as an example of poetic excellence. I am afraid people would throng round a piece of music sung by one of the renowned singers, more than round the recital of your poem. Yes, you may have the satisfaction of having an audience of intellectuals and then it will prove my contention that poetry has a limited appeal. Now about painting. I hear quite a number of people have lost their heads over Mona Lisa, even over a copy of it, but I have come away quite sound and strong without even being touched in the heart and I am sure many others have done so. This substantiates again my theory that painting is restricted in its scope. But will you turn the tables by this very fact of the restricted scope and difficult technique of painting and poetry and frame the order: Painting, Poetry, Music and so on? Is there really a hierarchy of planes in the Occult?

I fear I must disappoint you. I am not going to pass the Gods through a competitive examination and assign a highest place to one and lower places to others. What an idea! Each has his or her own province on the summits and what is the necessity of putting them in rivalry with each other? It is a sort of Judgment of Paris you want to impose on me? Well, but what became of Paris and Troy? You want me to give the crown or the apple to Music and enrage the Goddesses of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Embroidery, all the Nine Muses, so that they will kick at our publications and exhibitions and troop off to other places? We shall have to build in the future – what then shall we do if the Goddess of Architecture turns severely and says, “I am an inferior Power, am I? Go and ask your Nirod to build your house with his beloved music!”

Your test of precedence – universal appeal – is all wrong. I don’t know that it is true, in the first place. Some kind of sound called music appeals to everybody, but has really good music a universal appeal? And, speaking of arts, more people go to the theatre or read fiction than go to the opera or a concert. What becomes then of the superior universality of music, even in the cheapest sense of universality? Rudyard Kipling’s Barrack Room Ballads exercises a more universal appeal than was ever reached by Milton or Keats – we will say nothing of writers like Blake or Francis Thompson; a band on the pier at a seaside resort will please more people than a great piece of music with the orchestration conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. In a world of gods it might be true that the highest makes the most universal appeal, but here in a world of beasts and men (you bring in the beasts – why not play to Bushy1 and try how she responds?) it is usually the inferior things that have the more general if not quite universal appeal. On the other hand the opposite system you suggest (the tables turned upside down – the least universal and most difficult appeal makes the greatest art) would also have its dangers. At that rate we should have to concede that the cubist and abstract painters had reached the highest art possible, only rivalled by the up to date modernist poets of whom it has been said that their works are not at all either read or understood by the public, are read and understood only by the poet himself, and are read without being understood by his personal friends and admirers.

When you speak of direct appeal, you are perhaps touching something true. Technique does not come in – for although to have a complete and expert judgment or appreciation you must know the technique not only in music and painting where it is more difficult, but in poetry and architecture also, it is something else and not that kind of judgment of which you are speaking. It is perhaps true that music goes direct to the intuition and feeling with the least necessity for the use of the thinking mind with its strongly limiting conceptions as a self-imposed middleman, while painting and sculpture do need it and poetry still more. At that rate music would come first, architecture next, then sculpture and painting, poetry last. I am aware that Housman posits nonsense as the essence of pure poetry and considers its appeal to be quite direct – not to the soul but to somewhere about the stomach. But then there is hardly any pure poetry in this world and the little there is is still mélangé with at least a homeopathic dose of intellectual meaning. But again if I admit this thesis of excellence by directness, I shall be getting myself into dangerous waters. For modern painting has become either cubist or abstract and it claims to have got rid of mental representation and established in art the very method of music; it paints not the object, but the truth behind the object – by the use of pure line and colour and geometrical form which is the very basis of all forms or else by figures that are not representations but significances. For instance a modern painter wishing to make a portrait of you will now paint at the top a clock surrounded by three triangles, below them a chaos of rhomboids and at the bottom two table castors to represent your feet and he will put underneath this powerful design, “Portrait of Nirod”. Perhaps your soul will leap up in answer to its direct appeal and recognise at once the truth behind the object, behind your vanished physical self, – you will greet your psychic being or your Atman or at least your inner physical or vital being. Perhaps also you won’t. Poetry also seems to be striving towards the same end by the same means – the getting away from mind into the depths of life or, as the profane might put it, arriving at truth and beauty through ugliness and unintelligibility. From that you will perhaps deduce that the attempt of painting and poetry to do what music alone can do easily and directly without these acrobatics is futile because it is contrary to their nature – which proves your thesis that music is the highest art because most direct in its appeal to the soul and the feelings. Maybe – or maybe not; as the Jains put it, syâd vâ na syâd vâ.

I have written so much, you will see, in order to say nothing – or at least to avoid your attempt at putting me in an embarrassing dilemma. Q.E.F.

Sri Aurobindo

N.B. This is my answer, not the Mother’s.


January 7, 1936

I don’t understand at all, Sir, what to make of your reply on Art!

If you did know, it would mean I had committed myself, which was just what I did not want to do. Or shall we put it in this way “Each of the great arts has its own appeal and its own way of appeal and each in its own way is supreme above all others”? That ought to do.

[In the medical report I wrote Achanchar instead of Achanchal. Sri Aurobindo underlined “r”.]

Is this r or l? If r, please transform into l.


January 8, 1936

I have no objection to N’s eyes being treated by R.

It is not a question of his eyes. If R treats him, he will forbid all allopathic medicines for his other ailments. That is the point I put to N which he seems not to understand at all.

If it is l and not r why do they pronounce Achanchar? Is it like our saying আঁব2 (mango) instead of আম3? Oh, the very word আম takes you, Sir, to the land of –!

God knows! I have not heard their pronunciation. But it is l all right. R and l are however supposed to be phonetically interchangeable since the beginnings of human speech.


January 10, 1936

Is it true that poetry leads to the realisation faster than music, painting, etc.?

What the deuce is meant by leading to the realisation?

About poetry or any literary work, you have said that very often one’s inner being comes to the front, and that is used by a higher Power. Is that the reason then why Poetry is such a quick process?

Don’t recognise the quotation or recall the context. But the inner being can come to the front under any provocation, why of Poetry alone?

Venkataram says that he feels something when he takes up music – something different from what he feels in his other activities.

It all depends on what the something is.

Will you now say something about art, or do you think it risky?


Whatever little experience I have of sadhana through works, makes me incline to the view that work as sadhana is the most difficult thing.

Why argue from your personal experience great or little and turn it into a generalisation? A great many people (the majority perhaps) find it the easiest of all.

In poetry, though I may be unlucky as regards experiences, while I write, I try to think of you even if mentally. I can even say that it is only by thinking of you that I can compose poetry.

Many find it easy to think of the Mother when working; but when they read or write, their mind goes off to the thing read or written and they forget everything else. I think that is the case with most. Physical work on the other hand can be done with the most external part of the mind, leaving the rest free to remember or to experience.

In that case Music should have the greatest gift.


I won’t dilate any more, but ask you to do it.

Why should I dilate either – at the risk of bursting? Besides tonight I have other dilatations (I can’t call them delectations) occupying


January 12, 1936

Is there no real love in the human world?... Where is the crux of the trouble?

In the self-delusion of the vital. Human love is mainly vital, when it is not vital and physical together. It is also sometimes psychic + vital. But the Love with a dominant psychic element is rare.

I am in agony; a great upheaval is going on. Oh, how I wish for something real! real love! Can you not give me, make me feel, overwhelm me – even if for 10 minutes – with your love, and make life worth living?

What is real love? Get clear of all the sentimental sexual turmoil and go back to the soul, – then there is real love. It is then also you would be able to receive the overwhelming love without getting the lower being into an excitement which might be disastrous.


January 13, 1936

“Like a flame of flowers on yonder tree,

Like the rippling waves of the sea,

Dance, dance, O my soul, thou playmate of Light,

Winging the sapphire height.

Into the luminous calm of skies

Uplift my leaden eyes

And on a widening vision pour

The sun-wine of thy soar.”

A small poem. Trickle? Opinion, please. Soul dancing too much? The first stanza came quite easily, but I got stuck after that. Then Amal hopped in and helped me with the second stanza.

I have no objection to the soul dancing, but to make it dance and wing a height at the same time is a little acrobatic. Also to pour wine (even of a soar, though what the wine of a soar may be I don’t know) on the eyes would hardly be beneficial to the vision–in most cases. I admit however that these are perhaps rather too prosaic and Johnsonian objections to the sunwine of your or Amal’s dancing soar.

Here are some new lines:

Trickle, trickle O mighty Force divine.

Pour, pour thy white moon dreams

Into my stomach, heart and intestine

In little silver streams.

Two most damnable blunders, sir. “Intestine” is stressed on the second syllable and pronounced intestin, so how the blazes is it going to rhyme with divine? A doctor misstressing “intestine”– shame! How are you going to cure people if you put wrong stresses on their anatomical parts?

Second blunder–

Yogically, psycho-physically etc., etc. stomach, heart and intestine lodge the vital movements, not the physical consciousness –it is there that anger, fear, love, hate and all the other psychological privileges of the animal tumble about and upset the physical and moral digestion. The Muladhara is the seat of the physical consciousness proper. So you have to emend the third line into “Invade the

yearning bottom of my spine”. That will

make it poetically beautiful and psycho-physically correct.


January 14, 1936

Nishikanta has written a poem from a vision. He says that he is going to paint his vision of the violet stream and the golden cup; so he would like you to illumine him regarding its significance.

“Violet” is the colour of benevolence or compassion, but also more vividly of the Divine Grace – represented in the vision as flowing from the heights of the spiritual consciousness down on this earth. The golden cup is I suppose the Truth consciousness.

Almost all whom I know have come here solely for the Divine, while I have just glided in. I don’t know that I was actuated by the sole motive of drowning myself in the Divine...

The push to drown oneself in the Divine is very rare. It is usually a mental idea, a vital fumbling or some quite inadequate reason that starts the thing – or else no reason at all. The only reality is the occult psychic push behind of which the surface consciousness is not aware or else hardly aware.

I don’t see any vestige of a yogi in me. It will be three years in February, since I have come here, and I haven’t seen even three signs! It is your letters, Sir, that have bound me.

What the deuce is three years in Yoga? There are people who have to wait twice or three times or four times that time before they get the real sign. A child of nine might say Look here. I have been studying for 2 years and yet nobody has decided to propose me as the Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University.

You have had signs that you can get Ananda, that a channel can be made through your physical brain (your poetry) for something that wasn’t there before. That’s sign enough.

I hear J jumped down from the train when it was leaving! He still seems uncertain. A problem indeed!

Everybody is a problem in his own way – the world itself is a problem and so are all the creatures in it.


January 15, 1936

I send you a letter of my friend J.B. He wants to know if he can write to you personally?

The difficulty would be about the answer – If I had to do it myself, he would get an answer every three years.

And can some general correspondence be sent to him?

It can be done sometimes.

What does he mean by “the overmental and supramental stages” which he doesn’t want to leave?

I am puzzled by the sentence.

I suppose he takes anything beyond mind as Overmind and Supermind.

I suppose so, people always do at first. But even so, I don’t understand why he writes of it as a stage he does not want to leave. What he has is not of course Overmind or Supermind, but some sense of the cosmic Force of the Mother behind the action of the personal being.

He feels some dynamic force working in him. He feels that he hasn’t clung to the Divine, the Divine has clutched him.

That is very often felt.

People outside feel all these great experiences, while we feel a vacuum. Glory to God!

Lots of people feel that outside or similar things. Also they feel a bhakti and faith outside which is spoiled or gets rude shocks if they come and stay for some time in the Ashram and converse with its enlightened sadhaks. But that I suppose is all in the game. At any rate it used to be like that. Nowadays I notice some improvement – let us hope that soon it will be an entire change.

Do you really think that I have done something in poetry? People say that one can’t take your remarks on poetry, painting, etc. too literally, because you want to encourage us.

A very good beginning. Not yet Homer or Shakespeare, of course.

Mother is giving us doctors a very good compliment, I hear! that we confine people to bed till they are really confined!

Yes. Mother did pass on that epigram. Doctors were born to hear such remarks.


January 16, 1936

Why are you so afraid of P’s screams? Surely yogis ought to be able to bear a little suffering and you ought to encourage or allow it, Sir!

She is not that kind of Yogi. She would only scream and get as wild as Durvasa4 and stop going to the dispensary – apart from copious weeping etc.

R.B. is all right. I thought she has been doing some work, but now I find she is taking a holiday.

True, she is very lazy. You can perhaps tell her that work now ought to do her good and recommend it as part of the treatment!


January 17, 1936

J is suffering from eczema. Don’t know what to do except go on experimenting. Please ask Mother to guide me.

Mother can’t say. Her experience is that strong medicines are not good for these skin things – toilet products are more effective; but this is only a general observation. I myself cured mine by spiritual force and stingingly hot water, but I don’t know if it would work for others.


January 18, 1936

If you have cured yourself by spiritual force and hot water, why not apply the same here?

Can’t say if it will succeed. Differs with people. Sahana cured hers once by icing it.

I am not giving anything except zinc oxide ointment which is very bland. Spiritual force, I have none; so can’t give it!



January 19, 1936

I realise at every moment that I am neither made for the path of the Spirit, nor for any big endeavour in life. I know I shall be unhappy, but are all men born to be happy?

Man of sorrows! man of sorrows!! Knock him off, man, knock him off!


January 20, 1936

Man of Sorrows? Knock him off? Well, he is too cryptic or brief for me. I’m not much satisfied with the answer.

The most fundamental difficulty I find in me is that I can’t believe that the Divine will do everything for me. My experience has shown me that – please don’t say my experience is nothing. Take for instance this Poetry business. It has always been rare for me to write any poetry without a heavy dose of mental exercise – you know it very well. I have not, except once or twice, as I said, felt some force coming down and delivering a poem out of me, even a worthless one, in a second. If I don’t write, I don’t write, and even when I try to write, it takes me so many, so many days and so much labour. You will give the usual reply – What of that? That’s all very well, but it means that I must labour – my own quota has to be enormous in order to get any success. But I haven’t got that leechlike tenacity. Since I haven’t, I can’t as well believe that someday the Divine Force will pour down, or gush out and do the miracle. You yourself had to concentrate for 4 or 5 hours a day for so many years, after which everything flowed in a river. But I am not Sri Aurobindo! I am not born with such a will and determination. Since I don’t possess them, the most politic thing would be to rely on the Divine, but I can’t believe in any such thing. You had to concentrate, Dilipda had to and so had everybody. Since I can’t spend so much labour, I have to conclude that such big things are not for me. Even then I sit down for 2 or 3 hours, 3 or 4 or 5 days pass away and I am just where I was – result: depression. Where is the Force?

Now about Yoga: you know how much progress I have made. I don’t blame you. I can’t meditate, I can’t pray, I can’t aspire. Without them, I don’t see how I am to get anything. Why not do them – you ask? If I could, would I have troubled you with all these wailings? Since I can’t, I have no peace, no joy! You can’t give them without any urge or aspiration for them, can you? I know, I understand, I gather how much one has to aspire for all these and even then the result is sometimes zero. Then if one can’t aspire at all, where is his hope?...

Sometimes I think – don’t bother your head. Eat, drink, be merry – with yogic reservations! no thought, no worry. I thought I would go on chatting, eating, reading novels, etc. But I can’t. I don’t get peace, though I find some are all right. Anilkumar, for instance (1 don’t mean any offence, though) reads novels the whole night practically. How can he? He must have got something. If I could do it, I would, but how would that bring me peace, progress in sadhana? As you have said, personal effort is absolutely imperative and a sustained effort too, until your Grace descends. God knows what will happen then! I don’t see anywhere that effort nor the capacity nor even the will for it. So with what shall I hope, on what shall I rely? Neither can I try it myself nor can I believe that you will do everything for me. Hence all these precious agitations, disbelief... I am not meant for any big endeavour.

Give an answer that will pierce the mind-soul. By an answer only. I don’t expect more!

As there are several lamentations today besieging me, I have very little time to deal with each separate Jeremiad. Do I understand rightly that your contention is this, “I can’t believe in the Divine doing everything for me because it is by my own mighty and often fruitless efforts that I write or do not write poetry and have made myself into a poet”? Well, that itself is épatant, magnificent, unheard of. It has always been supposed since the infancy of the human race that while a verse-maker can be made or self-made, a poet cannot. “Poeta nascitur non fit”, a poet is born not made, is the dictum that has come down through the centuries and millenniums and was thundered into my ears by the first pages of my Latin Grammar. The facts of literary history seem to justify this stern saying. But here in Pondicherry we have tried, not to manufacture poets, but to give them birth, a spiritual, not a physical birth into the body. In a number of instances we are supposed to have succeeded – one of these is your noble self – or if I am to believe the man of sorrows in you, your abject, miserable, hopeless and ineffectual self. But how was it done? There are two theories, it seems – one that it was by the Force, the other that it was done by your own splashing, kicking, groaning Herculean efforts. Now, sir, if it is the latter, if you have done that unprecedented thing, made yourself by your own laborious strength into a poet (for your earlier efforts were only very decent literary exercises), then, sir, why the deuce are you so abject, self-depreciatory, miserable? Don’t say that it is only a poet who can produce no more than a few poems in many months. Even to have done that, to have become a poet at all, a self-made poet is a miracle over which we can only say ’Sabash! Sabash!’5 without ever stopping. If your effort could do that, what is there that it can’t do? All miracles can be effected by it and a giant self-confident faith ought to be in you. On the other hand if, as I aver, it is the Force that has done it, what then can it not do? Here too faith, a giant faith is the only logical conclusion. So either way there is room only for Hallelujahs, none for Jeremiads. Q.E.D.

By the way what is this story about my four or five hours’ concentration a day for several years before anything came down? Such a thing never happened, if by concentration you mean laborious meditation. What I did was four or five hours a day pranayam – which is quite another matter. And what flow do you speak of? The flow of poetry came down while I was doing pranayam, not some years afterwards. If it is the flow of experiences, that did come after some years, but after I had stopped the Pranayam for a long time and was doing nothing and did not know what to do or where to turn once all my efforts had failed. And it came as a result not of years of Pranayam or concentration, but in a ridiculously easy way, by the grace either of a temporary guru (but it wasn’t that, for he was himself bewildered by it) or by the grace of the eternal Brahman and afterwards by the the grace of Mahakali and Krishna. So don’t try to turn me into an argument against the Divine; that attempt will be perfectly ineffective.

I am obliged to stop – if I go on, there will be no Pranam till 12 o’clock. So send your Jeremiad back tonight and I will see what else to write. Have written this in a headlong hurry – I hope it is not full of lapsus calami.


January 21, 1936

I send you the “Jeremiad”, Sir. My observations are reserved. Anyway, you have succeeded in almost chasing away the clouds of depression.

To continue. The fact that you don’t feel a force does not prove that it is not there. The steam-engine does not feel a force moving it, but the force is there. A man is not a steam-engine? He is very little better, for he is conscious only of some bubbling on the surface which he calls himself and is absolutely unconscious of all the subconscient, subliminal, superconscient forces moving him. (This is a fact which is being more and more established by modern psychology though it has got hold only of the lower forces and not the higher, so you need not turn up your rational nose at it.) He twitters intellectually (= foolishly,) about the surface results and attributes them all to his “noble self”, ignoring the fact that his noble self is hidden far away from his own vision behind the veil of his dimly sparkling intellect and the reeking fog of his vital feelings, emotions, impulses, sensations and impressions. So your argument is utterly absurd and futile. Our aim is to bring the secret forces out and unwalled into the open so that instead of getting some shadows or lightnings of themselves out through the veil or being wholly obstructed, they may “pour down” and “flow in a river”. But to expect that all at once is a presumptuous demand which shows an impatient ignorance and inexperience. If they begin to trickle at first, that is sufficient to justify the faith in a future downpour. You admit that you once or twice felt a “force coming down and delivering a poem out of me” (your opinion about its worth or worthlessness is not worth a cent, that is for others to pronounce). That is sufficient to blow the rest of your Jeremiad into smithereens; it proves that the force was and is there and at work and it is only your sweating Herculean labour that prevents you feeling it. Also it is the trickle that gives assurance of the possibility of the downpour. One has only to go on and by one’s patience deserve the downpour or else, without deserving, stick on till one gets it. In Yoga itself the experience that is a promise and foretaste but gets shut off till the nature is ready for the fulfilment is a phenomenon familiar to every Yogin when he looks back on his past experience. Such were the brief visitations of Ananda you had some time before. It does not matter if you have not a leechlike tenacity – leeches are not the only type of Yogins. If you can stick anyhow or get stuck that is sufficient. The fact that you are not Sri Aurobindo (who said you were?) is an inept irrelevance. One needs only to be oneself in a reasonable way and shake off the hump when it is there or allow it to be shaken off without clinging to it with a “leechlike tenacity” worthy of a better cause.

All the rest is dreary stuff of the tamasic ego. As there is a rajasic ego which shouts “What a magnificent powerful sublime divine individual I am, unique and peerless” (of course there are gradations in the pitch,) so there is a tamasic ego which squeaks “What an abject, hopeless, worthless, incapable, unluckily unendowed and uniquely impossible creature I am, – all, all are great, Aurobindos, Dilips, Anilkumars (great by an unequalled capacity of novel-reading and self-content, according to you), but I, oh I, oh I!” That’s your style. It is this tamasic ego (of course it expresses itself in various ways at various times, I am only rendering your present pitch) which is responsible for the Man of Sorrows getting in. It’s all bosh – stuff made up to excuse the luxury of laziness, melancholy and despair. You are in that bog just now because you have descended faithfully and completely into the inert stupidity and die-in-the-mudness of your physical consciousness which, I admit, is a specimen! But so after all is everybody’s, only there are different kinds of specimens. What to do? Dig yourself out if you can; if you can’t, call for ropes and wait till they come. If God knows what will happen when the Grace descends, that is enough, isn’t it? That you don’t know is a fact which may be baffling to your – well, your intelligence, but is not of great importance – any more than your supposed unfitness. Who ever was fit, for that matter – fitness and unfitness are only a way of speaking; man is unfit and a misfit (so far as things spiritual are concerned) – in his outward nature. But within there is a soul and above there is Grace. “This is all you know or need to know” and, if you don’t, well, even then you have at least somehow stumbled into the path and have got to remain there till you get haled along it far enough to wake up to the knowledge. Amen.


January 21, 1936

[This letter, with my question and drawing, is not dated. Very likely it was written on January 21, 1936 and sent separately from my notebook. Note, in Sri Aurobindo’s answer of the 20th, the phrase “noble self”, and my reference, in the letter of the 22nd, to “another poem” of NK.]

Now then, what do you think of the vision-poem by NK and its illustration by my “noble self”, and its significance? Qu’en dites-vous?

Very remarkable – the poem, I mean. As for the vision I know it only through your work of art which leaves me stunned with astonishment if not admiration and therefore unable to articulate. Its greatest point is the bird which is a chef-d’oeuvre.


January 22, 1936

Nishikanta sends another poem. He is determined to go at you with his literary volleys.

Kept them till tomorrow. Am racing with time to get work finished before 8 a.m. in the morning, so no time to receive today’s volley.

I says she has been feeling terribly lonely for the last few days, had a terrible impulse to go away.

The usual terrible seems to have come simultaneously to you, D and her after leaving some others.

She says that if it happens off and on, it would be a hard job to stick.

Some people had it terribly once a week or even once a day for months together, yet they stuck or got stuck.

But what is this loneliness due to? Her isolation?

No way. It is the usual hubbub of the vital. D used to get this “loneliness” in the full swing of his tea parties, concerts and daily meetings. Nothing to do with isolation. Many isolated people don’t feel lonely at all.

When a person with few or no friends, comes to see you, how to turn your face away? If any disturbance results from it I can bear if it is helpful, but when it becomes too frequent it’ll be unbearable.

Let us hope it will not be too frequent. Don’t want you to fall again either into the flummocks and the flumps or into the dumps. Don’t look for these words, at least the first two in the dictionary, they aren’t there – my own Joycean neologisms.


January 23, 1936

P was given pomegranate juice, she vomited it at once. It may be due to the reflex atony of the stomach.

That was the Mother’s impression. Of course pomegranate juice may well have assisted (as she vomited after it), if it was the wrong (medicinal) kind of pomegranate and crushed out of the grains and seeds (becoming strong and bitter) instead of pressed out without crushing. Ordinary pomegranate juice many people take and there are no such results.

I myself was taking it daily at one time; I took it once or twice even prepared in the wrong way without any inconvenience. But if the bitter medicinal kind were given her in a weak condition of the stomach, it might well aggravate.

R showed me Gaudart’s blood-urea report which was .025%. The lowest figure given was .02%. Dr. Valle has asked R to be on the look-out lest it fall lower.

Is he still treating Gaudart? He wrote that Valle had said he (V) would go no longer to G’s and so R also had to leave G to himself. Valle has gone back then?

What did N.P. do after he stopped coming here? Left to the Force or to R?

Nothing to do with R. Says the Force is curing him.

I am surprised, Sir, that you are still complaining of time!

Are you? You wouldn’t be if you were in my place.

No time, no time! it is going to be an eternal problem with you, it seems! After the reduction of correspondence – cutting off the evening mail – it leaves you absolutely free for other things. I suppose you are working at your Savitri.

Where is the reduction of correspondence? I have to be occupied with correspondence from 8.0 to 12 p.m. (minus one hour), again after bath and meal from 2.30 to 7 a.m. All that apart from afternoon work. And still much is left undone – And you think I can write Savitri? You evidently believe in miracles!

What about the poem you promised, Sir?

I have no time even to think about it or about writing poems at all.

Muthu K. Swamy and Co., are starting a journal. I said I would give one of Nishikanta’s English poems. May I?

I don’t know whether it will be suitable to the kind of “Journal” they can produce.


January 24, 1936

But do you really mean that till 7 a.m. your pen goes on at an aeroplanic speed? Then it must be due more to outside correspondence. I don’t see many books or envelopes now on the staircase. Is the supramental freedom from these not in view?

Your not seeing unfortunately does not dematerialise them. Books are mainly for the Mother and there is sometimes a mountain, but letters galore. On some days only there is a lull and then I can do something.

A most stimulating formula I find in your letter – “within there is a soul and above there is Grace” – about which you say “This is all you know or need to know.” Is that all really?

For anyone who wants the spiritual life, yes, it is enough.

Can one arrive, at what is called “a state of grace” simply by sticking or simply because there is a soul within?

Yes, one can, plenty of people have done it.

But then the soul is there in everybody and Grace is above everybody. How is it that people have turned their backs on the Divine?

Because of rajasic ego, ambition, vanity – because they believed in their own efforts and not in the Grace.

I have never heard that Grace did everything. And. where it seems to do so, how do we know that somebody has not done sadhana in his past life? You can’t deny it, can you?

I could point you at many instances in spiritual history – beginning with the famous Jagai Madhai. But it is no use against a brain that does not want to admit that 2+2=4.

You can’t affirm it, can you?

Simple sticking won’t do. In that case our Ashram cat Bushy would have a chance.

Of course she has – of rising to a new grade of birth with all in her favour in the next life.

Because we have to make a Herculean effort in sadhana I rather hesitate to believe much in Grace. Is not Grace something that comes down unconditionally?

It does not depend on conditions – which is rather a different thing from an unconditional surrender to any and every sadhak.

Even Ramakrishna’s baby cat type of sadhak has to make a decisive movement of surrender and compel the rest of the being to obedience, which, let me tell you, Sir, is the most difficult thing on earth.

I never heard that the baby cat was like that – if it were it would not be a baby cat. (It is the baby monkey trying to become a baby cat who does that.) But you have evidently so great a knowledge of spiritual things (surpassing mine and Ramakrishna’s) that I can, only bow my head and pass humbly on to people with less knowledge.

If anybody can do the baby cat surrender at a stroke, it is not because his “unfinished curve” in the past life has finished it in this.

Hail, Rishi, all-knower! Tell us all about our past lives.

Now, if the soul instead of sleeping has to aspire etc. to call down its Lord the Grace, where do you see that aspiration in me? If you build my spiritual castle on those one or two minutes’ brief visitations of Ananda, and that too once or twice only, excluding the moments of darshan of your great self, which also have been sometimes marred in these three years – and if you build my poetic mansion on little trickles, then I can only say – well, what shall I say?

Better say nothing. It will sound less foolish.

You have often inveighed against my asking you not to use yourself as an argument against the Divine. But what is the history of your sadhana in your own words – a Herculean practice of Pranayam, concentration and what not and then after years and years of waiting the Grace of Brahman. Still you are pañcamukha6 in praise of Grace!

What a wooden head! What is the use of saying things if you deliberately misinterpret what I write? I said clearly that the pranayam brought me nothing of any kind of spiritual realisation. I had stopped it long before. The Brahman experience came when I was groping for a way, doing no sadhana at all, making no effort because I didn’t know what effort to make, all having failed. Then in three days I got an experience which most Yogis get only at the end of a long Yoga, got it without wanting or trying for it, got it to the surprise of Lele who was trying to get me something quite different. But I don’t suppose you are able to understand – so I say no more. I can only look mournfully at your ununderstanding pate.

Calling for ropes and waiting till they come is all right, but who knows what may happen meanwhile. Won’t the expeditionist expire in the jungles, in trying to scale the Himalayas?

Who asks him to explore the jungles (of his own logic, I suppose) or climb the Himalayas? What has this to do with what I said? I did not tell you to make Herculean efforts.

I remember instances where people have failed in their sadhana and gone away. The Divine couldn’t do much because he says he doesn’t propose to do anything against the will of the individual, which means aspiration, rejection, surrender, before the Grace comes down.

It can mean also waiting on the Grace of the Divine! The will of the individual in this respect does not mean anything like that. If the will of the individual is towards perdition, if his ego becomes hostile to the Divine, then the Divine is not bound to show him a Grace he does not want at all and kicks at.

It seems to me that behind any difficult endeavour, there is the seeking for Ananda which acts as the motive-power, isn’t it so?

Not that I know of!

Take the case of X. My God, to think that after all those Napoleonic efforts in poetry, and having succeeded, one is still driven to madness because, after all, one has obtained nothing spiritually in spite of aspiration, meditation, etc. – this is blood-curdling and at once smashes your theory of Karmayoga through poetry.

Napoleonic rubbish! He was the worst poet in the world before he came here and here immediately as soon as I put my force he began writing beautiful poems. Yet it was by his Napoleonic efforts that he did it? Imbecility, thy name is ego.

I was not putting any Karmayoga theory – I was simply mocking at your absurd idea that it was by your own mighty efforts that you had succeeded in writing poetry which any good judge (you are not one) would call genuine poetry.

I would not like to invite the same inevitable fate on my weak bony shoulders. So in every way is there room for Hallelujah or for Jeremiad.

All right, sir, Jeremy away.

To think that five or six years more of barren desert stretch between me and the Divine Grace, coagulates my blood!

Coagulate! coagulate! coagulate!

Please give an answer to these points – if no time tonight, tomorrow.

Non, monsieur, – j’ai d’autres chats à fouetter. I have other cats to whip – I can’t go on whipping one cat all the time. A few lashes in the margin are all I can spare for you just now.

There are three main possibilities for the sadhak –

1. To wait on the Grace and rely on the Divine.

2. To do everything himself like the full Adwaitin and the Buddhist.

3. To take the middle path, go forward by aspiration and rejection etc. helped by the Force. The first, it appears, is too easy for you to do it, the second is too difficult for you to do, the third being easy in parts and difficult in parts is as impossible for you to do it. Right? Amen!!!

K’s X-ray finding reveals that it is the right side that is affected – the lesion has just started...

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “right side”.]

Right side where? lung? T.B.?

But why is she thrust on us again? She was evidently making good progress with R.

Because she insisted on being treated by Becharlal, not by R.

N is passing excessive phosphate. Shall we make a microscopic exam?

Do you want to microscope him out of existence? The loss of phosphates, I suppose, explains his weakness.


January 25, 1936

Very well, Sir, whip the cats and dogs, bulls and hogs, to your heart’s content! Only the whipping has been rather severe in my case, but no help since I have surrendered my life and death at your feet. O cruel one, I shall accept all whipping as a gift of your compassion.


I was grieved to see that after writing such a lot, you struck off all of it – it would have perhaps helped me. My difficulties run parallel to X’s, I find; only there’s a difference of degree.

Say rather that you have borrowed your difficulties from him or, say, run in his wake – a big steamer throwing a yacht into stormy waters.

But he has the great advantage of having a magnificent vital.

You have a sturdy but very sluggish one.

X has on the one hand your love, affection, letters, etc., on the other his sufferings, paroxysms of despair, depression, etc.

His paroxysms of despair were not caused originally by the Yoga but by disappointments of the vital, – this one’s behaviour, that one’s refusal to be under his influence, ingratitude etc. These things had nothing to do with Yoga. But the devil once admitted turned itself upon his sadhana also.

He has passed seven years here, Sir, and still he groans and groans...

And why please? Because he has never practised my Yoga, he has done his own. He has always put up some extremely traditional ideas about Yoga, jap, bhakti etc. etc. and challenged my own teachings with his reasoning mind which had no real conception of the things they meant. It is with great difficulty that I could sometimes get him to any direction by a secret pull and when I could do it he has always made some progress – which afterwards he refused to admit. And yet he made my incapacity as a Guru and the difficulty of my sadhana responsible for his failure – when he had never even given it a trial. That is a thing others beside him have done, also.

Don’t tell me that because he takes butter and tea, enjoys good company that the Grace is afraid of coming down, for that would not solve the problem.

There is no problem at all. It is simply because he has been pulling his own way with a savage tenacity instead of allowing his Guru to lead him. He now speaks of making his surrender. If he does it inwardly as well as outwardly, there may well be some considerable change.

Just one word about his poetry. I admit he had no vestige of poetry before he came here and that the Force has done it. But how shall I forget that he had to labour a lot at it?

It is ridiculous to talk of his labouring at it. He has an easy flow which ninety-one poets out of a hundred would envy him. The only thing he laboured over was his prosody and metrical experiments, but prosody is not poetry. The rhythm, the capacity for chhanda came to him at once when he started writing here – although till then he had been absolutely and hopelessly inefficient in that respect.

I admit the Force, but you have to admit the big personal contribution, the collaboration. If you aver that the contribution also was done by the Force you will throw me into shallow or deep waters.

I don’t admit it. It is a legend he has foisted on you. If you mean his writing for many hours a day that is no labour when one has the capacity. That is use of the power given, it is not effort and straining to get the power.

Anyway, I suppose I am again talking rot. These are fundamental wooden-headed difficulties.

Terrible rot.

Lastly, I have embraced your waiting on the Grace. I’ll now dance and prance. A little khichuri, ālubhājā,7 a little harmless platonic love. Agreed?

I have no objection to alubhaja, but to the devil with your platonic love!

Last night I dreamt that you were most affectionately patting me for a long time; but before that, somebody asked me to promise that I would never indulge in any lower vital movements. And I promised. What’s this?

Quite natural. If your vital makes that promise, the pat is normal.

But why this promise at all when I had no intention of that sort of vital movement?

You may not have intended, but something in your vital may have had dark intentions of its own.

I send you a poem by Nishikanta. He says: “What is the use of writing if Sri Aurobindo doesn’t read?”

I read and correct – so he has no cause for complaint. The Bengali ones – can’t read them unless I have a clear time – even only quarter of an hour. I have not had it the last few nights.

What about N’s complaints? Shall we then turn a deaf ear to them?

What complaints? Micturition and phosphates? Tell him to economise his phosphates instead of squandering them and he will become strong and healthy as a tiger.

I understand that Dr. Banerjee examined I.K. and told you of her case. Do you remember?

Good Lord, no. It is ancient history.


January 27, 1936

[Purani had reported to Sri Aurobindo Mulshankar’s accident and subsequent admission to the Hospital.]

There is no visible fracture of the skull, but there is bleeding from the left ear which is a sign of a fracture of the base of the skull. There are no signs of cerebral mischief as yet. Mulshankar invokes the Mother’s presence and help. The ward in which he is, is rather noisy; he hadn’t a wink of sleep.

He should be removed to one of the paid rooms as soon as the Surgeon finds it can be safely done. It would be well if we could get frequent reports of his condition three or four times a day.


January 28, 1936

Is it advisable for people, e.g. P, S, etc. to go and see Mulshankar now and then?

No. Mother had already written to P and B refusing.

Benjamin has phimosis.

What kind of medical animal is this?


January 30, 1936

You forgot to have a look at Nishikanta’s poetry yesterday? It has come back just as I sent it – want of time and absence of mind – I mean Overmind?

How is that? But it is not surprising if I overlook something, considering the crush through which I have to go at a gallop.

My nights are again becoming heavy and I don’t know how to deal with them.

So are mine with a too damnably heavy burden of letters to write.

I come out of bed with the morose thought that another night has passed away and I have done nothing.

You mean the morbid thought!

Thoughts of past pleasures and enjoyments are hopping in and out!

Man alive, send them hopping off for good. What a masochism in all that!


January 31, 1936

You compare your nights with mine! God above! Yours, Sir, is a labour of love –

Love under protest then or at least labour under protest!

And mine – labour of Yoga?

A labour of Bhoga?8

Now apropos of Mulshankar’s accident. He says that he fell half on the pavement and half on the road which seems to be right.

At 5 p.m., three men came to him and wrote down his version of the accident, below which he was asked to give his signature. He realised later that he had made a mistake and asked me to write to you. I don’t know how these people dared to come and trouble him without the surgeon’s permission. Moreover, he is not even in a position to give an exact account of the accident, at present.

But he can’t remember how exactly he was knocked down... Bapu says Mulshankar fell in the middle of the road, got up and walked to the pavement, which Mulshankar denies – he didn’t walk at all. But Bapu says again that when the car was on the point of knocking him down, Bapu closed his eyes from nervousness, and when he opened them, he found Mulshankar on the pavement. And I hear he is asked to be a witness which he refuses to be. Purani has taken down his version. There is going to be an incongruity between the two statements.

It turns out that it was the juge d’instruction who came to question Mulshankar, so there is nothing to say, though it is strange that they came in that way without informing or consulting the hospital authorities. It does not seem to me that Bapu’s version of M’s walking can stand. If his eyes were shut before the clash and he opened them only after Mulshankar had reached (in whatever way) the pavement, he cannot have seen Mulshankar walking, not at least with his physical eyes. Moreover it is most improbable. The car caught the cycle in the middle of the street, granted, but in such a way that the cycle went under the car and remained entangled there and Mulshankar must have been precipitated from the cycle, not merely tumbled from it. The car swerved in the collision in the direction of the same pavement and (according to Purani’s sketch) was stopped farther on near this pavement, not in the middle of the road. The whole movement was therefore towards the pavement; Mulshankar must have been precipitated head foremost against it and so got his bad hurt on the head. If he had fallen down in the street where the collision took place, he would it seems to me have been run over or been otherwise hurt. In any case Purani should have pointed out to Bapu that his closed eyes and his seeing Mulshankar walk do not go together, he must have taken a mental impression for a fact, since Mulshankar denies the walking. It would be awkward, if the inquiries are pushed farther, that two different and incompatible statements about the incident should proceed from the Ashram. If Bapu does not give evidence, it is another matter. Who has asked him to give it? The juge d’instruction or someone else?


February 2, 1936

By the way, you spoke of my friend J.B. as receiving the Mother’s Force.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “Mother’s Force”.]

In contact with” the Divine Force which is the force of the Mother – that was what I wrote, I believe.

But which Mother? Ours or some universal Mother as people say? Perhaps an ignorant and foolish question, but can’t help it.

How many Mothers are there? Who is this some universal Mother? How many of these some universal Mothers are there?

I ask because I do not understand how without invoking the Mother, he gets her Force.

Have you not put him by the photograph and his letter in connection with us? Has he not turned in this direction? Has he not met Prithwisingh and been impressed by him – a third channel of contact. That is quite sufficient to help him to a contact if he has the faith and the Yogic stress in him.

And I do not understand either, how a married man – married not like Ramakrishna I mean, – gets all these experiences so easily.

Why not? A married man can get experiences, especially if he is not gross or over-sexy by nature. But if he follows this Yoga, he will have to drop copulation or he will get upsettings.

You have heard of Monoranjan Guha Thakurtha and his wife who, leading a married life, having children, were making a lot of progress in sadhana – especially his wife, it seems, had no sex-desire at all. She used to submit to these procreative acts with detachment. Possible?

That is possible but how many can do it?

I thought any sex-act, with or without desire, is a great hindrance to Yoga, and Mother has said, I hear, that every sex-act is a step towards death.

Well, did your Mrs. Guha live?

Well, but in spite of all these, she did progress in sadhana, as far as a layman can judge. Can you enlighten?

To a certain extent yes – but if she had been sexy, it would have been more difficult for her.


February 3, 1936

Regarding “how many Mothers are there?” K says that all Power, Force, Light in the universe belong to you and emanate from you. In that case, I asked him – “Does Raman Maharshi who is an aspirant of the Impersonal Brahman get a response from Mother and Sri Aurobindo?”

Who is the Mother and who is Sri Aurobindo? And who is this fellow you call the Impersonal Brahman?

K says, “Yes, because they are identified with the Supreme and the Supreme is static and dynamic at the same time.” I answered – maybe – especially when Krishna is supposed to have contained the whole universe in his mouth or when he says that whoever takes the name of the Divine, or offers a flower, etc., comes to his feet. Then why is it said again that he is an Overmind god? Doesn’t it mean that there is a greater godhead than Krishna?

What was said was that Krishna as a manifestation on earth opened the possibility of the Overmind consciousness here to men and stood for that, as Rama was the incarnation in mental Man. If Krishna was an Overmind “God”, that means he was not an Incarnation, not the Divine, but somebody else who claimed to be the Divine – i.e. he was a god who somehow thought he was God.

Somehow I can’t accept that people following other paths of sadhana are calling Mother and Sri Aurobindo and getting their help and Force. In that case wouldn’t all of them, except the worshippers of the Impersonal, be their disciples?

The Divine is neither personal nor impersonal, formless nor formed. He is the Divine. You talk of these distinctions as if they separated the Divine into so many separate Divines which have nothing to do with each other.

I continued, “My friend J.B. was having experiences which, Sri Aurobindo says, were coming from Mother, even before he was put in contact with them.”

If so, why were you so much flabbergasted when he wrote about them? What was the date on which they began in this vividness – not as a mental impression but as a concrete contact with the Divine Presence or the Force?

I have no objection to your being the Supreme, only it stupefies one to think of you as such!

But there was no question about my being the Supreme; the question was whether there was one Divine Mother or 20,000 Divine Mothers. At the same time I don’t see why it should stupefy one (you?), in spite of your absence of personal objections to think of me as such (the Supreme). Why, you are yourself the Supreme, aren’t you? Soaham, tattwam asi Nirada, ঈশ্বর কোন বেটা, আমিই ঈশ্বর (Vivekananda).9 আমি in this formula means not V but anyone, that is to say Nirod. Also vide Krishna Prem. So what’s this stupefaction about, I should like to know? When everybody is the Supreme and of everybody it can be said that he is God, why should I alone as such stupefy you?

Leave aside the question of Divine or undivine, no spiritual man who acts dynamically is limited to physical contact – the idea that physical contact through writing, speech, meeting is indispensable to the action of the spiritual force is self-contradictory, for then it would not be a spiritual force. The spirit is not limited by physical things or by the body. If you have the spiritual force, it can act on people thousands of miles away who do not know and never will know that you are acting on them or that they are being acted upon – they only feel that there is a force enabling them to do things and may very well suppose it is their own great energy and genius.

Mulshankar has a headache now and then, which he says, is due to exertion in shouting for the servant etc.

So why not give him a small bell from here?

Coconuts are rather hard to get in the hospital. Shall I ask Dyuman to supply two a day?

If he can find – in some seasons it is hardly possible to find them –

I find that workmen – carpenters – go to see him on their way home. Shall I ask Chandulal to forbid them?

Yes, of course. That should be strictly forbidden.


February 5, 1936

You can send your Force to whomever you like – Lenin, Kemal, Gandhi, but how people calling Shiva or Krishna for their Ishta Devata10 get responses from you, I don’t understand.

Again who is Shiva? and who is Krishna? and what is an Ishta Devata? There is only one Divine, not a thousand Divines.

It would mean that wherever a sincere heart is aspiring for the Divine, his aspiration reaches your ears.

Why my ears? Ears are not necessary for the purpose. You might just as well say, reaches me by the post.

And you send your responses, because you want to manifest the Divine rule on earth.

That has nothing to do with it. Besides it is not the Divine Rule on earth that I am after, but the supramental rule. This however has nothing to do with any supramental or Divine Rule on earth. It is only a general question of the response of the Divine and to the Divine.

Why should you stupefy me? Good Lord! Have you forgotten how Arjuna was stupefied, horrified, flabbergasted by seeing the Vishwarup11 of Krishna whom he had thought of as his friend, guru, playmate? Could I, for a moment, play all these pranks on you if I saw your Vishwarup?

But that was because the Vishwarup was enjoying a rather catastrophic dinner, with all the friends and relations of Arjuna stuck between his danshtrani karalani.12 But my viswarupa has no tusks, Sir, none at all. It is a pacifist vishwarup.

Already people say that I have no respect for you because I write anything and everything! “Sri Aurobindo is the Lord Supreme and with Him he plays all these pranks!”

And I return the compliment – I mean reply without restraint, decorum or the right grave rhythm. That is one reason why I indulge so freely in brackets.13

No, Sir, I am satisfied with you as Sri Aurobindo pure and simple.

No objection, I only suggested that I don’t know who this Sri Aurobindo pure and simple is. If you do, I congratulate you.

I am wrong about J.B., I discover. I forgot that he was put in contact with you by his photograph long ago. Who knew that you have been acting on him since then?

You must not imagine I have been thinking solely about J all the time. When a fellow contacts, a Force goes out to him and acts according to his capacity of response, that’s all.

I have sent P’s photograph also, but apparently there was no contact.

Plenty of people have sent their photographs – some mad, some sane, some good, some bad, some indifferent. You don’t expect all to get the contact, do you? That would be too too even for a viswarupa.

Mulshankar is much better today, Sir, and the doctor has asked him to eat macaroni and potatoes. But the fellow can’t bear the name of potato! Very queer, all of us are mad over it in the Ashram!

Quite queer – for he has surely eaten plenty of potatoes in the Ashram.

... The surgeon says he suspects a contusion in the abdomen – can’t localise it... He seems to have said that it is or was a very serious case. But no serious symptoms are visible. What did you find in the occult, Sir? Had to work a lot?

Yes, still have to.

What should be done with the letters written to him from outside?

I suppose the letters can be sent to him or is it medically inadvisable?


February 7, 1936

A funny dream, Sir: On the Darshan day when I went up, I heard you say to the Mother, “Caress the boy a little”. Mother did so and you in turn looked at me with wide open eyes and as you were taking them away, the Mother said, “No, no, look at him a little more”. (Please do, Sir, do!) Mother was rather advanced in age and dark, while you were younger – these things make me doubt the dream.

These dreams are in the vital and their appearance is not fixed as it is in the physical body. It can change to express various things, some vital condition, some psychological symbolism, something in the mind of the man who sees, etc., etc., etc. So nothing funny, sir, – all quite normal and natural.

You were not at all like what we see. Then what we see is an illusion?

Obviously – even science knows that. You see only what your eyes show you.

Mulshankar had disturbed sleep because of the pain in the leg... Temperature 36.8° – all O.K. except for that blessed pain.

It is a contusion?


February 8, 1936

Mulshankar’s doctor insists on his taking meat and fish and coaxed Rajangam to his view. I don’t see any necessity for it provided we can give him sufficient nourishment.

We quite agree with your view. But Rajangam seems to have lectured Mulshankar into consent. Therefore Mother leaves it to the patient and the doctors to settle –


February 9, 1936

I wrote some time back that behind any difficult endeavour of an individual there is the seeking for Ananda which acts as a motive power. I got a rebuff from you: “Not that I know of!” The curt reply didn’t satisfy me, as my little brain couldn’t agree with your mighty one.

That is an easily made psychological proposition which can exist only by ignoring facts. If you say that it is the Ananda behind the veil which makes one act, as a moving power, not as a “motive”, – that may be so, but this is a metaphysical, not a psychological generalisation. When a Communist faces torture in a Nazi concentration camp, he is not doing it for the sake of Ananda or happiness, but for something else which makes him indifferent to Ananda or happiness or else compels him to face the loss of these things and even their very reverse, however painful it may be.

I have always seriously thought that all men are after happiness which is a deformation of Ananda. Their acts of desires, sin, lust, striving after power, – in one word, all their activities, are guided by that one principle: seeking for Ananda, or happiness, if you like...

[Sri Aurobindo drew an arrow indicating “happiness”.]

A mistake; many men are not after happiness and do not believe it is the true aim of life. It is the physical vital that seeks after happiness, the bigger vital is ready to sacrifice it in order to satisfy its passions, search for power, ambition, fame or any other motive. If you say it is because of the happiness power, fame etc. gives, that again is not universally true. Power may give anything else, but it does not usually give happiness; it is something in its very nature arduous and full of difficulty to get, to keep or to use – I speak of course of power in the ordinary sense. A man may know he can never have fame in this life, but yet work in the hope of posthumous fame or on the chance of it. He may know that the satisfaction of his passion will bring him everything rather than happiness – suffering, torture, destruction – yet he will follow his impulse. So also the mind as well as the larger vital is not bound by the pursuit of happiness. It can seek Truth rather or the victory of a cause. To reduce all to a single hedonistic strain seems to me very poor psychology. Neither Nature nor the vast Spirit in things are so limited and one-tracked as that.

I shall quote the following remarks of Raman Maharshi, recorded by Paul Brunton: “All human beings are ever wanting happiness, untainted with sorrow. They want to grasp a happiness which will not come to an end. The instinct is a true one...”14

All? It is far too sweeping a generalisation. If he had said that it is one very strong strain in human nature – it could be accepted. But mark that it is in human physical consciousness only. The human vital tends rather to reject a happiness untainted by sorrow and to find it a monotonous, boring condition. Even if it accepts it, after a time it kicks over the traces and goes to some new painful or risky adventure.

“... Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true self. His search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true self. The true self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”15

The true Self is quite a different proposition. But what it has is not happiness but something more.

“... Even they [the wicked and the criminal] sin because they are trying to find the self’s happiness in every sin they commit. This striving is instinctive in man, but they do not know that they are really seeking their true selves, and so they try these wicked ways firs tas a means to happiness...”16

Who is this “they”? I fear it is a very summary and misleading criminal psychology. To say that a Paris crook or apache steals, swindles, murders for the happiness of stealing, swindling, murdering is a little startling. He does it for quite other reasons. He does it as his métier just as you do your doctor’s work. Do you really do your doctor’s work because of the happiness you find in it?

People will not seek a sorrowless, untainted, everlasting happiness, even if shown the way – because they will consider it beyond their power to attain, or so it seems to me.

It is also with many because they prefer the joy mixed with sorrow, মানুষর হাসিকান্না,17 and consider your everlasting happiness an everlasting bore.

About the criminals, I don’t obviously include those types who are born with a criminal instinct: idiots and imbeciles.

Why not? If your generalisation is good for all, it must be good for them also.

Raman Maharshi says that if one meditates for an hour or two every day, then the current of mind induced will continue to flow even in work. Of course he speaks of meditation “in the right manner”.

A very important qualification.

“It is as though there are two ways of expressing the same idea; the same line which you take in meditation will be expressed in your activities.”18 And its result will be the gradual change of attitude towards people, events and objects. Your actions will tend to follow your meditation of their own accord.

If the meditation brings poise, peace, a concentrated condition or even a pressure or influence, that can go on in the work, provided one does not throw it away by a relaxed or dispersed state of consciousness. That was why the Mother wanted people not only to be concentrated at pranam or meditation but to remain silent and absorb or assimilate afterwards and also insisted on avoiding things that relax or disperse or dissipate too much – precisely for this reason that so the effects of what she put in them might continue and the change of attitude the Maharshi speaks of will take place. But I am afraid most of the sadhaks have never understood or practised anything of the kind – they could not appreciate or understand her directions.

Of course, he adds that setting apart time for meditation is for spiritual novices... You too wrote to me to meditate at least half an hour a day, if only to bring a greater concentration in the work.

It does bring the effects of meditation into work if one gives it a chance.

You know that meditations are not always successful.

You forget that with numbers of people they are successful.

Even if they were, how does this affect the whole day’s work?

It doesn’t, if one does not take care that it should do so – if one takes care, it can.

Is it something like charging a battery which goes on inducing an automatic current?

It is not exactly automatic. It can be easily spoilt or left to sink into the subconscient or otherwise wasted. But with simple and steady practice and persistence it has the effect the Maharshi speaks of – he assumes, I suppose, such a practice. I am afraid your meditation is hardly simple or steady – too much kasrat19 and fighting with yourself.

Raman Maharshi seems a real Maharshi.

He is more of a Yogi than a Rishi, it seems to me. The happiness theory does not impress me, – it is as old as the mountains but not so solid. But he knows a lot about Yoga.


February 10, 1936

You have hit me well by asking me whether I do my doctoring for the sake of happiness. But it was forced on me, Sir!

Most people do things because they have to, not out of the happiness they find in the things. It is only its hobbies and penchants that the nature finds some happiness in, not usually in work – unless of course the work itself is one’s hobby or penchant and can be indulged in or dropped as one likes.

We are puzzled over this word “Rishi”. Dilipda and myself agree that a Rishi is something more than a Yogi.

Why always this less and greater?

Kanai places a Yogi higher than a Rishi. He says, “But then Sri Aurobindo has called Bankim a Rishi”...

A Rishi is one who sees or discovers an inner truth and puts it into self-effective language – the mantra. Either new truth or old truth made new by expression and realisation.

Raman Maharshi has seen the Truth, can he be called a Rishi?

He has experienced certain eternal truths by process of Yoga – I don’t think it is by Rishilike intuition or illumination, nor has he the mantra.


February 11, 1936

From your definition of a Rishi am I to understand that a Rishi may not necessarily be a Yogi because a truth may not always be the Ultimate Truth?

A Rishi may be a Yogi, but also he may not; a Yogi too may be a Rishi, but also he may not. Just as a philosopher may or may not be a poet and a poet may or may not be a philosopher.

A Rishi will have 2 things: 1) Seeing or discovering a truth – new or old, 2) putting it in mantra. These two things are quite possible in a man not doing Yoga at all, because intuition and sudden illumination can come to poets, literary people, artists, etc..., can’t they?

Yes, but poetic intuition and illumination is not the same thing as Rishi intuition and illumination.

You have called Bankim a Rishi. Do you think his Bande Mataram is a real mantra?

Well, the Bande Mataram acted as a mantra and so I suppose I gave him the credit of Rishihood.

Did he actually see the country as the Mother?...

Can’t say whether he saw. Must ask him.

When you wrote that you look upon India not as an inert, dead mass of matter, but as the very Mother, the living Mother in bones and flesh, I believe you saw that Truth – or was it just the expression of a poetic or patriotic sentiment?

My dear sir, I am not a materialist. If I had seen India as only a geographical area with a number of more or less interesting or uninteresting people in it, I would hardly have gone out of my way to do all that for the said area.

Merely a poetic or patriotic sentiment – just as in yourself only your flesh, skin, bones and other things of which the senses give their evidence are real, but what you call your mind and soul do not self-exist being merely psychological impressions created by the food you eat and the activity of the glands. Poetry and patriotism have of course the same origin and the things they speak of are quite unreal. Amen.

Mulshankar had no sleep last night due to pain in the leg. But it stopped in the morning. Temperature normal. Otherwise too all right. Is it necessary to visit him once in the morning at 7?

Why not?

There is a chronic difficulty with Benjamin’s phimosis.

My dear sir, if you clap a word like that on an illness, do you think it is easy for the patient to recover?

A complains of nausea. Worms? Liver? Liver pain better.

She says you spoke wrathfully to Becharlal and Becharlal spoke wrathfully to her and accused her of high crimes and misdemeanours (like irregularity in eating) of which she was not guilty. So she is very wounded and won’t go to Doctors any more!! Fact? or liver?


February 12, 1936

Spoke wrathfully? I thought I am a very calm and peaceful man. But I’ll tell you what happened. Dr. Becharlal and I were breaking our heads over the budget when A entered. 1 was a bit troubled about the budget and I asked Dr. B what A’s complaint was and he asked her in Gujerati: “Have you done some indiscretion in the diet?” That’s all. Now you can judge for yourself.

Well, I don’t know why, but you have the reputation of being a fierce and firebrand doctor who consider it a crime for patients to have an illness. You may be right, but – Tradition demands that a doctor should be soft like butter, soothing like treacle, sweet like sugar and jolly like jam. So!

I hear K is crying with pain and for my neglect of her condition. She is afraid of coming to the dispensary lest I should be displeased!

That’s the thing. General complaint, sir.

What thinkest thou of this anapaest poem, Sir,

Written by my humble self? Pray, does it stir

Any soft feelings in thy deep within

Or touches not even thy Supramental skin?

So soft, so soft, I almost coughed, then went aloft

To supramental regions, where rainbow-breasted pigeons Coo in their sacred legions.

N.B. This inspired doggerel is perfectly private. It is an effort in abstract or surrealist poetry, but as I had no models to imitate, I may have blundered.


February 13, 1936

I had to show that doggerel to Amal as I couldn’t decipher. Amal suggests that your “perfectly private” is a joke after all.

No, sir. Quite serious. Can’t afford to play jokes like that in public.

Is it “Coo in their sacred legions”?

Yes, the cooing is the supramental zenith of the softness and the surrealistic transformation of the cough.

You have made me very happy by your comment on my poem I had sent you. But I doubt if the same sustained level will be maintained. Amal says that he too is not able to do it.

Very few poets can. The best poetry doesn’t come by streams, except in periods of extraordinary inspiration. It usually comes by intermittent drops, though sometimes three or four drops at a time. Of course there are exceptions – Shakespeare etc. – but that kind of spear doesn’t shake everywhere.

Bengali people say that they like my English verses better than my Bengali ones, for they find there something new.

Isn’t that because “people” are less accustomed to English poetry than to Bengali? You have written two good poems in English, and certainly it is early to have done that. But the circumstances are exceptional.

This brings me to Nishikanta’s poem. I wonder how, with such poor knowledge of English, he can write such beautiful poems with striking images and expressions.

A very fine poem.

Images and expressions come to him in English because they are there pressing behind; but his imperfect knowledge prevents their getting the right form and arrangement.

Is it something like a wide opening into these planes?

Yes, of course. It is the same thing. One opens to or into a plane of creative expression. Everything is that; it is only the transcription that has to be réussi.

Comparing Nishikanta with Dilip, I find that though Dilip writes very well, his expressions do not fuse with the thoughts and feelings. They are something like bright gems standing out strikingly from the rest of the flowers in a garland.

Do you mean the expression as a whole is not so beautiful as the thought and feeling? I don’t quite catch the metaphor of the gems and the flowers. Please clarify. Is it particular expressions you refer to or the expression as a whole?

It strikes me as if he has not yet found that alchemy by which a miraculous harmony can be created out of whatever one touches, while Nishikanta has and knows.

Well I suppose Housman’s theory comes in there. D’s poetry is more mental. N’s comes straight from the vital vision and knocks you in the pit of the stomach.

He does not repeat his images so much as D – and they are exceedingly striking and forceful. They are of one type, but that I suppose is the case with most poets.

From all this I conclude that a born poet and genius combined, is something quite different from one made by yoga. And there will be always a difference between the two.

Can’t say I understand. N himself had done nothing worth doing in poetry when he came here – all the signs were that he would be at the best only a Tagorean poetling like so many others. He got a touch here which brought out in him some powerful force of vital vision and word that certainly had not shown any signs of existing before. It may have been there latent, but so was the poet in D. What then exactly is meant by a combination of born poet and genius? A born poet is usually a genius, poetry with any power or beauty in it implies genius.

You wrote to Harin that richness of image comes from an openness to occult planes, which Harin and Nishikanta have. Dilip does not have it yet, it seems to me.

Richness of image is not the whole of poetry. There are many “born poets” who avoid too much richness of image. There are certain fields of consciousness which express themselves naturally through image most – there are others that do it more through idea and feeling.

What do you think of my criticism – right or wrong?

It will have to be more clear, precise and specific before I can assess its value.

What about Nishikanta’s big poem? No remark?

Read it. Very good – no remark needed.

And what about his note-book, then? Have you made it a point of reading one poem every day as a mantra?!

Very little chance of his getting it back before the February non-correspondence vacation.

Another poem by Nishikanta: The Rat and the Cat.

Very strong and original.

I don’t write to my mother at all because it doesn’t do any good except opening a channel for more wallowings in depression and for moans.

Evidently. If people accepted the inevitable, it would be easier to do something for them.

If the tradition demands, we shall try to be softer than butter, but we may be too tempting and evoke a response from the patient’s palate for making delicious toast. Who will save us then?

Of course, if you are too too sweet. You must draw the line somewhere.

A doctor says that one has to be firm, stern and hard with women. They may not like it superficially, but they enjoy it and stick to the doctor who gives them hard knocks. Caveman spirit?

He must have been a he-man. She-women enjoy it from he-men. But all women are not she-women and all men are not he-men. Moreover there is an art as well as a nature in that kind of thing which you lack.

Dr. R seems no less a firebrand than myself, but women seem to like him.

He’s a he-man. Even so, the women here have ended by saying No more of R!


February 14, 1936

You said “circumstances are exceptional” as regards my early success in English versification. It must be so, otherwise how could I write these poems so fast and beautifully? But please

Let me know

How ‘tis so

A dullard like me

Bursting like a sea

With the heart of the Muse

Makes his rhythm fuse?

You are opening, opening, opening

Into a wider, wider scopening

That fills me with a sudden hopening

That I may carry you in spite of gropening

Your soul into the supramental ropening.

N.B. Surrealist poetry.

K says that last two days she has not taken much and is not hungry either.

[Sri Aurobindo drew an arrow indicating the word “much”.]


Ambu’s weakness seems to be nervous. I wanted to prescribe Drakshasava (general tonic + appetiser), but our stock is exhausted. Amal said he has a bottle of it, sent to him by his family, which he could share with Ambu. What do you say?


Though I don’t see why Amal requires any medicine at all.

It is the family which forces medicines on him, I hear.


February 15, 1936

How is it, Sir, that my letter and the poem came away as they went? Because I was late or some Supramental forgetfulness?

Never had a glimpse of either of them. Must have been hiding scared in your bag.

After the day’s hard work, you can understand my disappointment when with all froth and bubble of joy I opened the letter to find that not a line of your hand was there! I had to sigh and say:

(Tagore) “For this have I kept awake all night and done sadhana,” or (Nishikanta) “I have endured mosquito-bites all over my body for this and it has come back without receiving your gracious look,” or (Nirod) “Now I am bursting into tears of despair. I’ll send it again at your door. You will kill me, O Guru, if you forget it this time!”20

(শ্রী অরবিন্দ)21 O must I groan and moan and scarify my poor inspired bones

To get my poem back as if it were a bill from Smith or Jones?

N.B. Abstract poetry, very abstract.

By the way, today is the date of my arrival, if you remember. I had forgotten it myself until Sanjiban reminded me. When you read this the day will be a past date, but the blessings won’t!

Blessings and plenty of them!

For J’s eczema I suppose a stimulating ointment should be given.

Umph! If it is necessary.


February 16, 1936

Mother, /

One more / poem. / Amal / was not // avail/able. / I have tried / to stick / to the nor/mal form, // unless / my scan/sion is wrong. / I have put / the scansion. // I find / that in / the fore-/going / ones my // scansion / was wrong. / For in/stance, I / scanned: //22

A wide / inexpres/sible Peace / seizes / my soul,

Pervad/ing the spac/es a / profound / Presence / I feel

Inscru/table, vas/ter than / the sea, / sky-still.

That, except in the second line, is the orthodox method of scansion, but even so the two lines are not iambic pentameters. The first is anapaestic-trochaic with an iamb at the beginning and another at the end. In the second line the orthodox scansion would make it a line of six feet.

You scanned: Illumined / by thousand / resplendent / suns. I did: Illum/ined by / thousand / resplen/dent suns.

That is a mathematical scansion, not rhythmic. If you scan like that, there is no prose that cannot become verse. I have scanned in that way your prose. “Mother, one more poem” etc.

The stress in “thousand” is on the first syllable, not the second. The natural stresses are “illú/mined by thoú/sand resplen/dent suns.” If you stress the unstressed “by” and the unstressed “sand” and destress the strongly stressed “thou” in “thousand”, then no law of accent remains, you land yourself in pure license and there is no reason why you should not scan “Illu/mined by/ thousand/ resplen/dent suns”/ and make a trochaic line of it. You cannot ignore stresses in the English language.

I really cannot see how you find iambic rhythm in “Pervading the spaces a profound Presence I feel”. If there is any rhythm, it is the rhythm of free verse not of any fixed metre.

You have to train your ear to recognise (1) the difference between the various basic rhythms, iambic, trochaic, anapaestic and the various lengths pentameter etc. (2) the extent to which other feet can be admitted without upsetting the basic rhythm. These two things are indispensable.

Nishikanta thinks that it is easier for you to send Force for English verse than for Bengali. He has felt it, he says. Even D the sceptic, thinks that for English you have an easy work comparatively – words, expressions, even the technique you can direct through your Force.

Why the deuce should I do that? If I had to compose the whole poem myself, why go on and pump it into some other person’s mind? Haven’t I a fountain-pen and couldn’t I write it and isn’t there Nolini to type it?

Whereas in Bengali it is more of a general sort. True? Since Bengali code you don’t know, or shy to admit, you can’t do that?


“Benighted traveller sore, why do you moan Because a transient darkness entwines your way?”

What is this “sore”? It sounds like a bear with a sore head. Benighted also sounds like an abuse.

“When the Divine like a loving friend has poured His luscious grace on thee...”

“luscious” is too palatal or sensual to be an adjective of “grace”.

Mulshankar is quite well, no pain. He wants to come out, but it would be better not to do so till the 20th.

Not till the 20th. Till he is able to walk and look after himself. What is the use of his coming on the 20th if he is not able to walk to the Pranam? However, you need not say that to him till the time comes.


February 17, 1936

Mulshankar is all right. He is trying to walk a little. Found a swelling in his right foot. Shall I ask Prasanna to tidy his bed?

But what is all this? You are all determined to have him here on the 20th whether he is fit or not? What is the idea behind all this haste? Has not the Mother said he should come only if he can walk and do the most necessary things for himself?

Here is my attempt at the use of anapaests in the iambic metre:

“The dismal clouds which haunted my days and night

Dissolve into a transparently wide

Calmness, by the ascent on the black height,

Of thy moon increasing in a swelling tide.”

It is stressed transparent, not transparent. What a howler! It makes me “drop into poetry” – thus

Sir, you seem apparently ignorant

That parent is the trick and not parent.

And yet the stress transpires transparently

And is apparent to both ear and eye.

So you compare and do not compare things;

Your soul prepares, not prepares heavenly wings.

[A separate note:]

Please have a look at the poem and give some comments.

Noted with comments (poetic and prosaic) on the poem itself.


February 18, 1936

About that “transparent”, well, I thought, Sir, it is transparent, but consulted the Ox. pocket dictionary and found transparent, though I did not understand how two accents can come one after the other.

Two accents can come together if the first syllable takes long to pronounce; but the accent then is minor, the other major – The main stress is on the 2nd syllable.

I am not an Englishman like you, Sir, to contradict or question the authority. I am only a Bengali and almost a hill-tribal at that!

Oxford Dictionary does not put the accents on the 1st and 3rd syllables as you do – so it does not contradict me.

You may say that they have divided the syllables like that, but other words also they accent in that way, e.g. transpire. There is the rub.

I don’t understand. Of course transpire is stressed on the second syllable, that was my whole point that transpire, transparent, compare, prepare, apparent are stressed on the second syllable, not on the first. Transparent also follows the same rule – the stress falls on the second syllable, it cannot fall on the first and third.

If O.D. puts a stress also on the first, that must be a minor stress due to the length of the syllable – but it cannot cancel the massive accent on the second or bestow an accent on the third where it does not exist.

Can you tell me why my poems tend to be so simple and bare? No images at all and whatever there is, is only common and almost hackneyed.

Poetry depends on power of thought, feeling, language – not on abundance of images. Some poets are rich in images, all need not be.

It seems I am not very rich in the faculty of imagination. And without that hardly any creation worth the name is possible.

What is this superstition? At that rate Sophocles, Chaucer, Milton, Wordsworth are not good poets, because their poetry is not full of images? Is Kalidasa a greater poet than Vyas or Valmiki because he is fuller of images?

After what you have seen of my English poetry, is there any chance for me?


I have looked at the Ox. Dictionary here and I find it clearly puts the accent on the 2nd syllable, with none on the first, thus transpar°ent, the ° marking the accent. In their system they put the sign of the stress after the stressed vowel e.g. rely° – but where there is an r after the r, as in transpar°ent. In their signs they make no difference between minor and major stresses. No English Dictionary, however eccentric, would justify your transparently wide – But perhaps you are writing for the 21st century?


February 19, 1936

Mulshankar proposes to come at 10 a.m. through Nolini’s gate and finish the pranam on his way home. It may be too much as he is still limping.

He should reserve his energy for the darshan – this would be too much for the first day’s outing.


February 22, 1936

What about the Darshan? Any good news for us?

Very queer darshan – too early to say anything.

The Americans, it seems, were much impressed. And the one who took the longest time, had a vision, I hear, of the whole of America bowing at your feet! What a wonderful thing it will be, by Jove!

That was what he was calling for and he believed he got the answer.

So if that vision were to come true, it would be marvellous. Somehow I feel that America would be the first to accept your message and through it your work will be spread all over the West. True?

Possibly. Mother has always expected something special from America.

You will find something in my famous bag, which may startle you! Well, the pen is a present from Arindam Bose. The size and everything will suit you best though the nib may not. And I send it to you that your writing may flow in rivers from the pen, in my book, not in a few stingy lines!

Good Lord! what a Falstaff of a fountain-pen.

But it is not the pen that is responsible for the stinginess; the criminal is Time and with a fat pen he can be as niggardly as with a lean one.

Amal says that to follow strictly the sonnet-principle, the rhyme-scheme in the second quatrain should be the same as in the first, i.e. ab ab.

Yes, certainly; if you want to follow one of the strict sonnet forms.

The two regular sonnet rhyme-sequences are (1) the Shakespearean ab ab cd cd ef ef gg – that is three quatrains with alternate rhymes with a closing couplet and (2) the Miltonic with an octet abba abba (as in your second and third quatrains) and a sestet of three rhymes arranged according to choice. The Shn. is closer to the natural lyric rhythm, the Miltonic to the ode movement – i.e. something large and grave. The Miltonic is very difficult for it needs either a strong armoured structure of the thought or a carefully developed unity of the building which all poets can’t manage. However there have been attempts at an irregular sonnet rhyme-sequence. Keats tried his hand at one a century ago and I vaguely believe (but that may be only an illusion of Maya) that modern poets have played loose fantastic tricks of their own invention; but I don’t have much first-hand knowledge of modern (contemporary) poetry. Anyhow I have myself written a series of sonnets with the most heterodox rhyme arrangements, so I couldn’t very well go for you when you did the same. One who has committed many murders can’t very well rate another for having done a few. All the same, this sequence is rather – a Miltonic octet with a Shakespearean close would be more possible. I think I have done something of the kind with not too bad an effect, but I have no time to consult my poetry file and am not sure. In the sonnet too it might be well for you to do the regular thing first, soberly and well, and afterwards when you are sure of your steps, frisk and dance.


February 23, 1936

I thought Darshan is over and whatever has to be seen, done, given, has been done! We are expecting a great Victory, and “very queer darshan” you say, Sir?

You arrange things in your own way! Things don’t work like that.

You spoke of some unpublished sonnets lying idle in your file? Can you not send a few, at least 2 or 3?

Not for circulation or publication just now.

Since I am writing sonnets, they would certainly help me.

Don’t think so – they are too irregular.

As there is no correspondence now, please send one or two poems from your old or new ones, if possible. Will you, Sir? Asking for the file would be too much, I suppose!

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “no correspondence”.]

What a rash statement!


February 25, 1936

“Exceptional circumstances”! Whatever they might have been, have disappeared.

Make them reappear.

Expected many things or at least something from Darshan, but don’t see anywhere any sign of it!

Many Americans at least, which was not expected! It is always the unexpected that happens, you see.


February 26, 1936

You are fine, you are wonderful, Sir! How the dickens am I to make the exceptional circumstances reappear when I don’t know what they are? I asked you what the “exceptional circumstances” were, and the only reply I extracted from you was “You are widening, scopening” – a most vague, misty reply too.

Well, but that’s just it. Widen, widen, scopen, scopen and the poetry may come in a torrent roaring and cascading through an enlarged fissure in yours and the world’s subtle cranium.

Now I don’t find poetry anywhere on the horizon.

How do you know? It may be hiding behind a cloud.

Maybe this disappearance of poetry is the unexpected that has happened as a result of Darshan! But the result of Darshan in some other quarters leaves me staggered and staggered! I can’t imagine such an incident taking place in the Ashram – I mean, of course, N’s gripping M’s throat. It makes me rather aghast. Coupled with that the incident of R rushing to shoe-beat P. Good Lord! but I suppose they are all in the game!

You seem to be the most candid and ignorant baby going. We shall have to publish an “Ashram News and Titbits” for your benefit. Have you never heard of N’s going for K’s head with a powerfully-brandished hammer? Or of his howling challenges to C to come out and face him, till Mother herself had to interfere and stop him? Or of his yelling and hammering in a rage at C’s door till Dyuman came and dragged him away? These things happened within a short distance of your poetic ears and yet you know nothing??? N is subject to these fits and has always been so. The Darshan is not responsible. And he is not the only howler. What about M herself? and half a dozen others? Hunger strikes? Threats of suicide? not to mention rushes to leave the Ashram etc., etc. All from the same source, sir, and apparently part of the game.

Difficulties of individual nature rushing up?

Individual and general. The subconscient, sir, the subconscient. Brilliant irruptions of the subterranean Brahman into the dullness of ordinary life. অবচেতনায় ব্রহ্মণে নমো নমঃ23

R writes that there is a spare pestle and mortar in the Dispensary lying in the cupboard and not being used – he needs one for his work. If this is not in use, it can be given to him.


February 27, 1936

Yes, we have a big mortar, but not exactly lying uselessly; we need it at times. But if he requires it more often we can spare it and get it from him whenever needed. Dr. Satyendra also uses it, though rarely. So as you please or as R pleases!

We will inform R of the situation of the mortar and ascertain his notions.


February 28, 1936

If by “widening” you mean that I have made a mighty or even a fractional conscious personal effort, well, that’s just not it.

No, I did not mean that.

And with all my widening, I can’t get even a glimpse of the Presence?

But you don’t widen! If you did (I suppose you are too lazy to do so) you would get a glimpse and more.

The laws of its coming and going are as unknown as Einstein’s law of Relativity. It comes of its own sweet will, at its own sweet hour. I feel Peace, Bliss and I write – “A Peace has taken my soul”, and you say I have widened.

Of course. If you hadn’t widened, how could the blessed thing get in? Of course, whether you widened yourself or it widened you and forced its way, is another matter.

It goes as it comes.

It always does, you know. But it comes back too, if you allow it.

The tragedy is that I know nothing of its reason of arrival and departure...

No reason. Only unreason or superreason. Keep your end up and it will arrive again, and some day perhaps after jack-in-the-boxing like that sufficiently, one day it will sit down and say “Here I am for good. Send for the priest and let us be married.” With these things that is the law and the rule and the reason and rhyme of it and everything.

At times I think why the devil do I bother my head with poetry? Poetry, poetry, poetry! Have I come here for blessed poetry?

You haven’t. But the poetry has come for you. So why shout?

I know that success in English poetry is as far away as the stars in heaven in spite of your remark to the contrary, though I must confess to having some contentment in writing.

Rubbish! the stars in heaven don’t stroll in and pay a visit – nor do they stroll out again.

Now let me tell you how an Englishman named Thompson visiting our Ashram, looks at our versification in his tongue which has thrown cold water on it.

I am not interested in the looks of your Englishman.

Thompson’s tongue has thrown cold water on it – or what? This sentence is almost as unintelligible as Thompson’s own English.

He had a heated discussion with Dilip and said he could not understand at all why we Easterners should write poetry in English, deserting our own tongue.

Is his understanding of such immense importance? I might just as reasonably ask him why Westerners like him should go to practise an Eastern thing like spirituality or Yoga leaving their own parliaments, factories and what not. But not being Thompson in intelligence, I don’t ask such absurd questions.

He seems to know definitely that we shan’t be able to handle English as an Englishman would – its tradition, its expressions, etc.

A Thompson, like his father Tom, also his uncles Dick and Harry, must of course be omniscient.

He asks: “Suppose an Englishman were to write a poem in Bengali, what would you say?”

It would depend on the Englishman and how he did it.

Dilip argued: “The Gitanjali of Tagore was appreciated and highly praised by many English poets. Conrad’s prose ranks as high as any great English writer’s. Sarojini Naidu and some others were praised by Gosse, Binyon and De la Mare.”

Add Santayana whose prose is better than most Englishmen’s.

Thompson rejoined: “Well, the merits of the latter people you mention were extra-literary. Show the works of the Indians to people like Eliot and see.” God knows what he means.

I don’t think God knows.

What the blazes does all this nonsense mean? The latter people like Binyon and De la Mare have no literary merit or literary perception and Eliot has? Eliot is a theorist, a man who builds his poetry according to rule. God save us from such fellows and their opinions.24

As for Tagore, his work is said to have been appreciated because it was “derivative”, (though what exactly he means by “derivative”, I don’t know. I suppose he means a translation).

What difference does that make? The English Bible is a translation, but it ranks among the finest pieces of literature in the world.

As for Conrad, according to Thompson, he is a Westerner, and surely there is a greater difference in tradition, expression, feeling between an Easterner and an Englishman than between an Englishman and another European.

In other words, any Western tradition, expression, feeling – even Polish or Russian – can be legitimately expressed in English, however unEnglish it may be, but an Eastern spirit, tradition or temper cannot? He differs from Gosse who told Sarojini Naidu that she must write Indian poems in English – poems with an Indian tradition, feeling, way of expression, not reproduce the English mind and turn, if she wanted to do something great and original as a poet in the English tongue.

He objects to our making even an experiment in English versification.

How terrible! Then of course everybody must stop at once. I too must not presume to write in English – for I have an Indian mind and spirit and am that dreadful Indian thing, a Yogi!

I can’t say that he is absolutely wrong except in disfavouring even an experiment.

Nobody ever is absolutely wrong. There is an infinitesimal atom of truth even in the most imbecile or lunatic proposition ever made.

I think that however much we may try, we shan’t be able to enter into the subtleties of a foreign tongue; so we run the risk of writing un-English English.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “we”.]

Who is this we?

Many Indians write better English than many educated Englishmen.

I believe he would waive his objection in your case.

How graciously kind of him! After all perhaps I can continue to write in English. Only poor Amal will have to stop. He can’t write a line after the cold water of Thompson’s tongue.

I don’t know that any Englishman could write pucca Bengali. It would sound and “sense” un-Bengali Bengali.

It would if he had not thoroughly mastered the Bengali tongue. It is true that few Englishmen have the Indian’s linguistic turn, plasticity and ability.

Of course if you say that our aim is not success or Shelleyan heights, but only to give voice to our spiritual experiences in a tongue so widely spoken, nothing remains to be said.

Shelleyan heights are regarded, I believe, by Eliot as very low things or at least a very bad eminence.

But even for expressing spirituality or whatever may be the object, we must try to make the vehicle as perfect as possible.

Who said not except the unparalleled T?

Now, is there any chance for it? T (an Englishman, mind you) says “None.” And you?

How can my opinion have any value against that of an Englishman – especially when that Englishman calls himself T?

As I said at the beginning I have no interest in T’s opinions and set no value by them. Even the awful fact of his being an Englishman does not terrify me. Strange, isn’t it? I have seen some lucubrations of his meant to be spiritual or Yogic and they are the most horrible pretentious inflated circumlocutionary bombastic would-be-abysmally-profound language that I have seen. For a man who talks of English style, tradition, expression, feeling, idiom, it was the worst production and most unEnglish possible. Few Indians could have beaten it. And the meaning nil. Also he is the gentleman who finds that there is “very little spirituality” in India. So hats off to T (even though we have no hats), and for the rest silence.

As for the question itself, I put forward four reasons why the experiment could be made: (1) The expression of spirituality in the English tongue is needed and no one can give the real stuff like Easterners and especially Indians. (2) We are entering an age when the stiff barriers of insular and national mentality are breaking down (Hitler notwithstanding), the nations are being drawn into a common universality with whatever differences, and in the new age there is no reason why the English should not admit the expression of other minds than the English in their tongue. (3) For ordinary minds it may be difficult to get over the barrier of a foreign tongue, but extraordinary minds (Conrad etc.) can do it. (4) In this case the experiment is to see whether what extraordinary minds can do, cannot be done by Yoga. Sufficit – or as Ramchandra eloquently puts it “’Nuff said!”

I don’t know what to do about N’s polyuria. There is no apparent reason to account for it. We can make a laboratory examination of his urine, without his knowledge.

How to do that? My objection to his knowing the results, if bad, is that his physical consciousness accepts all suggestions of illness, instead of reacting sinks down under the illness and prolongs it interminably. If the results are good, it is another matter. There is also something in his underconsciousness that likes to be ill so that it may be complaining and supine.


February 29, 1936

Today I attended a very tedious operation tending to go bad. I wonder if the Mother and you heard my call for help. I heard from R that whenever he called you, you promised him your force and help.

R gets the Force, first, because he has the dynamic faith in it, and, secondly, because he knows (instinctively, I suppose) how to draw it when he needs it. But even without that knack a sufficiently strong call will bring it. It is not even necessary that I should know the case or anything about it. The Force can use your knowledge and apply itself at the necessary point. It is not even necessary that my physical mind should know you have called. The call, if it is of the right kind, is self-effective.


March 1, 1936

I was called by R to the dying case opposite our house. The case seems hopeless... It seems R is willing to take it up if he is guarded by André or Valle. I wonder if it would be wise, as the chances are next to nil...

R saw Mother and told her he thought the case hopeless. She told him to drop it. In fact she had not wanted him to take up the case, but it seems they impressed one “officier de santé” who came to fetch him.

(Since have heard the classic lamentations with a note from R of the departure of the patient to his destination).

Please have a look at the typescript on Thompson. It will be kept to a limited company. I am sure it will do a lot of good to many of us who think like Thompson as regards English poetry, of which I was one, as you know.

Can’t sanction communication to others. First of all, I have slated Thompson in a way which cannot be made public – for he has done nothing to deserve a public castigation. I let myself go because I was writing for you alone. Moreover a comparative statement of Thompson’s opinions and mine means, if published, a discussion between myself and him, which is not among the possibles. I have kept your typescript to see whether I can note down anything on the points raised which you can show to a few – but even then to a few only.


March 2, 1936

U has a painless swelling in the nape of the neck. It has increased in size, and will go on increasing... It is called a lipoma, i.e. fatty tumour; harmless and painless but ugly and “worthless”.

He wants it to be cut off mercilessly: a very simple operation under local anasthesia; doesn’t require lying in bed, except for one or two days.

For the one or two days he would have to remain at the hospital?

If you like I can show it to Philaire, or he can go to our Miracle doctor, and wait for a miracle...

I don’t think it will be any use sending him to R – he does not succeed so well with the Ashram people because they are too critical and have too much feeling against him. He works not by medicine alone, but by suggestion also with the Force behind him, and a spirit of critical antagonism and that working do not go well together. For the sadhaks better trust to medicine and the knife.


March 3, 1936

I think U can come away from the hospital. If you permit, I can take him to Philaire tomorrow.


Please don’t think that because I am silent on your “widening” theory, I have accepted it. All I may say is that you have been making a fool of me. I admit that I deserve no better, but still... well, still! I am in a damn rotten state... As soon as I enter the Dispensary, it seems some black forces ride on my shoulders. I want to escape and spend a few afternoon hours away in the loneliness of Nature’s company till this melancholia lasts. Can a cycle be had for the purpose?...

Again Dilip! Can’t supply a cycle for every melancholiac. Would have to buy 20 new ones immediately and then the whole Ashram would turn melancholiac in order to have cycles.

From the tone of my letter you may imagine that I am making you responsible for my pathological condition. Not at all; it is my blessed nature or Man of Sorrows as you title it, though I don’t understand why you say that I have borrowed them from Dilipda.

Your “not at all” is a delusion. You doubt like him in the same terms, write like him with the same symptoms similarly expressed, want to cycle into Nature like him etc., etc. – and still you say “No, Dilipda!”

Diffidence, self-distrust has always been my element from the very start...

Diffidence and self-distrust are quite another matter.

You call me lazy, but I am not lazy. When the inner condition is all right, I can work at a poem for hours...

Then why the hell don’t you keep it right?

You say that Thompson doesn’t deserve a public castigation. I wish he did, because he is again bombarding Dara, with his luminous theory on Indian English – apart from other things!

Not only so, but I refuse to figure as discussing with him on an equal platform. You will ask me next to enter into a debate with Chellu25 on Vedanta. There are limits.

A.K.’s poetry has caused a flutter. Another miracle, they say. How has this feat been possible? A fellow who has never written any bit of poetry produces, just after one or two pieces, a remarkable poem and a long one at that, which will have an abiding place in Bengali literature! How could he have produced it? It has really puzzled me a lot.

What a “hower” you are!

You are puzzled because you are always demanding a rational process familiar to the ordinary physical mind from a suprarational thing like Yoga. Yoga has its processes, but they can only be understood and detected by those who have Yogic experience. But you refuse to accept that experience as valid; you want everything to be explained according to your own field of reason which is that of the ignorant physical mind. If you persist in that you will remain puzzled to the end of the chapter.

Whereas I working for 3 years on Bengali poetry – what have I done? Nothing to speak of, compared with this piece.

That is because you are a “hower” and an “efforter” – So the Divine or the Overself or whatever people may like to call it has to pretend with you that it is done in you by your stupendous effort and the how has to be shown – the how being that you work 40 hours and produce 4 lines.

This piece of poetry is as mature a work as any great poet’s. His success in painting is understandable, as he had to work and work a lot, before anything came out. Even then, I gather, painting here is only in its infancy.

Yes, but all the same very remarkable at times, e.g. for a boy of Romen’s years with no systematic training some of the work he has done is quite unexpected. Only what has been done is not yet great and finished art. But if X is to be acclaimed as a mighty artist for his paintings..., I don’t see why our artists should be modest any longer. Let us proclaim them also as epoch-making geniuses!


March 4, 1936

You ask me why I don’t keep my inner condition right. As if I knew how to do it! It keeps itself right or goes wrong without the least caring for my effort.

What about the wonderful efforts (unprecedented in human history) by which D and you have made yourselves poets? Why can’t you put some of that superhuman effort into this? If you do and succeed, I will rigorously leave all the credit to you and not ask any for a superior Power.

If it is I – the I that I know – that brings in the right condition, I would surely try to keep it... You admitted when you said “... of course whether you widened yourself or it [Force] widened you and forced its way is another matter,” that the Force has widened me and I quite believe it because I did nothing extraordinarily unusual to widen myself. The Force had seized me then and has left me now – that’s all.

But what is this talk about force? Nothing is done in this world except by one’s own effort. Ask your own reason and D.

You say that because I am an “efforter”, I write 4 lines in 40 hours! Is that so? Then I have yet to know how without an effort things pour in at all times.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “at all times”.]

What things? Poetry flows into you at all times?

It may happen, I admit, in just a few cases, as it did in mine, but not always. And if one were to wait for the automatic opening of the flood-gates, I think my production would have been by now only 4 or 5 poems! You have yourself said that one has to beat and beat, and what is this beating, pray, if not an effort to bring down the reluctant Unseen into the field of the seen?

I don’t understand. You say it is only by effort that one can write poetry – that is, what is written is something constructed by mental effort. It follows that anybody who makes the necessary effort can become a great poet. Up till now it was thought that there was some mysterious thing called inspiration. There are plenty of people who have made Herculean and untiring efforts night and day but have not succeeded in writing anything that others would call poetry – they may have just produced good or bad verse. That however in the light of your luminous rationality is evidently an agelong error. As D might say “I labour and write poems day and night and people give the credit to some damned thing (not my own great self) they call Inspiration.” Evidently. But what is this about a few cases? Are you going to tell me that Inspiration after all exists? Can’t be.

From your answers it seems there is a very simple way of doing things and it is only our egoistic foolishness that refuses to take it and goes in for laborious effort. Knowing “how to bow” for some such thing I suppose! or is it some passivity?

Well, that is the idea in Yoga – that by a right passivity one opens oneself to something greater than one’s limited self, and effort is only useful for getting that condition. There is also a notion that even in the ordinary life the individual is only an instrument in the hands of a Universal Energy though his ego takes the credit of all he does. But these are exploded ideas which you need not consider.

When did I refuse to accept experience as valid? I may want a rational explanation of a process, if any, but I don’t disbelieve an experience.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “if any”.]

I said you did not believe in the knowledge given by those who have the experience – you want a how that agrees with your own lack of knowledge and lack of experience.

In my case I have found that mostly I have to make a great effort and then when the thing comes down, people call it the result of the Force; I am quite justified in refusing to allow the Force most credit.

Quite. It was your efforts that turned non-poets into poets! Hail, you wonder-workers!

If you say that the Force has different ways of working – at times making one sweat and struggle for the sake of fun and at other times coming and sweeping one like spring breeze – nothing to argue!

It is the experience of the Yogis – but that is of no value.

If you don’t exclaim “Again Dilip!”

I do!

I shall write what he very aptly and eloquently expresses – “I did everything with my effort, and you say that the Force has made me do it! If it’s the Force that’s doing it then why alas, this bone-breaking labour!”

All I can say is that if it was D’s Force (of effort) that turned in a moment a hobbling ass into a winged eagle, for that was what happened to his poetry, it has done something no one ever did before. Namo Namo Dilipaya.26 It is he who should go forth to change the world... But no doubt you are both of you right. I am rather coming to the conclusion that this world should be left to its own “efforts” to arrive where it can and the Mother and myself should take tickets for some other.


March 5, 1936

Yesterday I couldn’t take U to the hospital because of my depression and today he couldn’t come because of his depression due to his inability to pick up English! Like my poetry, what?

And all equally absurd!


March 6, 1936

I have gulped down your satires quite smoothly. I am beaten if you put the same argument for Yoga too. Still it is difficult to see how without any effort, some time or other, one can do anything. As regards poetry, my point is that Force and inspiration are there, but effort also exists...

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “Force”, “inspiration” and “effort also exists”.]

What then?

...and on many occasions I find that the effort predominates overmuch.

Much too much!

Inspiration leaves one sometimes and one goes on beating and beating, hammering and hammering, but it comes not! Inspiration failing to descend, perhaps.

[Sri Aurobindo drew an arrow indicating the last sentence.]

Exactly. When any real effect is produced, it is not because of the beating and the hammering, but because an inspiration slips down between the raising of the hammer and the falling and gets in under cover of the beastly noise. It is when there is no need of effort that the best comes. Effort is all right, but only as an excuse for inducing the Inspiration to come. If it wants to come, it comes – if it doesn’t, it doesn’t and one is obliged to give up after producing nothing or an inferior mind-made something. I have had that experience often enough myself. I have also seen Amal often producing something good but not perfect, beating the air and hammering it with proposed versions each as bad as the other; for it is only a new inspiration that can really improve a defect in the transcription of the first one. Still one makes efforts, but it is not the effort that produces the result, but the inspiration that comes in answer to it. You knock at the door to make the fellow inside answer. He may or he mayn’t – if he lies mum, you have only to walk off swearing. That’s effort and inspiration.

One has to work hours and hours on end. What do you call this labour?

Hammering, making a beastly noise so that Inspiration may get excited and exasperated and fling something through the window, muttering “I hope that will keep this insufferable tinsmith quiet.”

By the way I discovered today from which corner the depression has come to me. It is our remarkable D again who got it immediately after Darshan. Then from him I got it! It is a pity though that one should get depressions after Darshan! It would suggest almost a post hoc theory. And he thinks it would be good to take a trip to Calcutta, or pass some time with X. Gracious, passing time with Mother and Sri Aurobindo doesn’t help and X will?...

That is why I affiliate you to D. It is not the first time I have seen your depressions coincide with his. But as a matter of fact he got depressed before the Darshan and came ready to be dark and unresponsive. The cause as usual was piffling – because Sotuda and P.S. had bothered him about his houses! Formerly it was always because I didn’t smile but remained grim, aloof and supramental. I secured one happy darshan by smiling at everybody with a Herculean labour of persistence. But that only set his outer mind seeking for some new excuse for being unhappy with the Darshan and he found it that way – and then the usual gloom and horror of darkness and frantic letters of departure – of course going back to the old grievance, no response from the Divine. Well, if anyone treated you as D does the Divine, would you be inclined to give a response? You would be more likely to be off to the Equator. And yet if he only did patiently what I have told him to do, he would get in time what he wants! Well, well!

S asks me to take him to the hospital for his eye-trouble. I asked him if R had given him permission – but R doesn’t say anything. Also about the X-ray findings, when I asked R, he replied curtly as usual, “Oh I am not interested!”

R has given up S – only S goes on pushing reports saying “I am in perfect health except for a little cold” under R’s door. It does not matter as S is going. He has written for his passage money.

S is in a danger-zone (suffering from chronic stomach ulcer). I don’t understand why he stays here without a chance of coming to Pranam or meditation for months. I thought Mother’s touch would do him good.

He is too insincere. Mother refuses to have him for Pranam or meditation. She says he is so full of falsehood that she can put no force on him except a Mahakali one and as he would resist that also, it would be more dangerous to him than helpful.

D was saying that his ailments don’t ever improve after reporting to you. Please see that this report gives some response, otherwise another factor will be added to his depression!

The attitude of his physical mind prevents any result – for it is so unwilling to recognize anything as the result of the Force that his subconscient works in the direction of preventing any result coming – and it is the subconscient that is most determinative in matters of illness.

If Mother has no objection and Rajangam is willing to look after the Dispensary, I would like to fly to the Lake or Villinur on a cycle.

Mother says if nothing is needed to be done and nothing happens while you are away and R has only to sit and guard the Dispensary, then it is all right. On condition of course he doesn’t kick down the Dispensary by an ill-considered movement of his legs in your absence! This last is my addition.


March 7, 1936

With all these “buts” and “ifs”, I drew back today. So if Mother doesn’t really approve I won’t go. I didn’t quite catch if Mother said that in the Pranam.

Mother had forgotten all about Villenur and the Rajangam-guarded Dispensary. So that had nothing to do with her look at Pranam.

It is really a pity that J is going with so many parts, also!

He is going with tears and full of blessings. Perhaps it is the “parts” you speak of that call him – his horoscope was found to be brilliant and almost Leninesque. Perhaps one day you will gaze at the figure of পাগলা যশোবন্ত [pāgalā yaśobanta] (I think that is Mridu’s description) presiding over the destinies of a Communist India!! Why not? Hitler in his “handsome Adolf” days was not less পাগলা or prettier, so there is a chance.

Really, how things happen here so suddenly! He had been laughing, joking and one day I find he has turned quite a different man – morose, muttering, etc.

That is because he is listening to “voices” and feeling “influences”, Anilbaran’s and others’, e.g. Nolini’s. Imagine Nolini engaged in dark and sinister occult operations to take possession of somebody.

You said something about the intermediate zone. I thought it was sex-trouble.

Sex-trouble, ego-trouble, occult-power trouble.

I had an idea that the intermediate zone is something that one is likely to tumble into after making a great progress in sadhana... I find there is some similarity between him, N, etc.

Anybody passing the border of the ordinary consciousness can enter into this zone, if he doesn’t take care to enter into the psychic. In itself there is no harm in passing through provided one does not stop there. But ego, sex, ambition etc., if they get exaggerated, can easily lead there to the fate of N and Co.

... He has very big ideas about himself, e.g. he once said to me that he was trying to solve the sex-problem of the Ashram!

So did N – he solved it finally by joining his wife.

(N.B. Sir, it is your pen that is making these blots.)

Really, I don’t understand, how with so much love for you, such is the result.

Yes, but the vital got into the love and that always creates trouble, unless the vital agrees to be under the control of the psychic.

It is as if the psychic is crying and crying but other parts are dragging him away.

Quite true. But the psychic is weak, the mind erratic, the vital restless and over-eager. Hence these results.

Is this intermediate zone such a beastly thing that you can’t draw anyone out of it in spite of his bearing so much love for you?

The difficulty is that if I draw him out, he runs back into it. These people feel a tremendous attraction to the wrong Influences and call them back. It is because in the absence of the occult experiences they feel ordinary and dull – and they are people who like to be extraordinary. I did pull out G; but he became as flat as a pancake and would do nothing more in the sadhana, because naturally I refused to put any more power upon him as he might misuse it. Others also when I cured their extravagances, complained that they felt so “ordinary” and shouted for their “Extravagant Influences” back again. There are always plenty of forces ready to answer a call like that. How often did I cudgel B and bring him back to his senses and he became quite clairvoyant and lucid for a time. But always he went back to his central Extravagance – mistaking his Ego for the Divine.

By the way –

My boil has burst and as you see

From the depression I am free.

Thanks, Guru, thanks to Thee!

Wilt Thou now pour some poetry?

Yes, I got irritated last night by your persistent boiling and put a gigantic Force which I am glad to see burst the little boil.

Thank God for that!

Free from boil,

At poems toil.

Laugh and grow fat.

Dilip’s temperature was 101.4° in the morning; evening, 100.4°. Had two half-boiled eggs in the morning as he was hungry because we starved him last night!

A robust patient!

He says he has eaten two eggs out of greed, asks to be excused.

Quite safe!

U now vacillates or hesitates, thinking of pain and suffering, etc. and says, “After all how much can it grow in one or two years?” So I leave him with his tumour on the neck.

Mother was looking at his mango. It looked to her as if it was rather deep and would need more than a local anaesthetic. If he is afraid of the operation, no use operating.

I did not quite follow what you meant by “it does not matter” about S. He wants the glasses badly and says his eyes are burning.

Really now, what have I to do with his glasses? He is going – once out of the Ashram, all these things will be his own business.

As he is going tonight, if any intelligent fellow with some interest in work can take his place or guard the Dispensary at least, please give us one.

Good Lord! what high expectations! Where are they, these intelligent interested fellows who are ready to stand guard over the Dispensary? Spot them, please.


March 9, 1936

How is it you remained unresponsive to my petty offers? (because they were petty?) I deferred the purchase of the pad, because if you have one, another would be of no use. I hope you haven’t.

I am afraid I have.

But why should my depression coincide with D’s? Too much association? Well, there are A, N, who mix with him more than I and yet they don’t bring away the reward – and why do I?

Their separative individuality is more robustly precise. Besides they have not the Man of Sorrows temperament as part of their make-up.

You surely can’t hold off Krishna, Shiva or Brahma because X treats the Divine like that. That would be acting not like a Friend, though maybe like the Divine!

What do you mean? I am not holding off Krishna. It is Krishna who is holding off himself, as he generally does, except when he finds a likely person who will tolerate his ways.

As to X’s not doing what you ask him to, in a talk I raised the issue casually. He said: “What am I not doing? I tell Guru everything that I am doing.” I replied, “But to my mind our failure to get anything in Yoga is due perhaps to our terrible egoistic demands – I have done so much, where’s the result? This sort of thing prevents us from any success, as this is a Yoga of surrender and not of effort. Effort is necessary but without any demand...”

The real thing is that he had his own ideas of Yoga and never accepted mine. He raged against the Supermind, sneered at the psychic, stared with blank unintelligence at the idea of love and self-giving without demand etc. So how the deuce could he do what I told him? Outwardly he tried in an imperfect way, but it is only recently that he has been doing it in earnest – but inwardly? and inwardly is the most important thing. What I have to do all the time is to try to force the growth of the psychic in him without his knowing it and it is an uphill and precarious business.

Is effort without demand of result possible unless the psychic fellow comes to the front?

Perfectly possible, if you can once distinguish between the will of the Purusha and the demand of the vital. Of course, it is easiest and indeed plain sailing if the psychic comes in front, but even before that it is possible.

X said that Mother asked him to try to be conscious at every step, but it is “a very tiresome business”.

Exactly; there it is. He doesn’t want to do what he is told because it is tiresome or not according to his ideas.

It seems he hasn’t quite caught what you want him to do in spite of so many letters.

That’s the difficulty.

Now I come to my state of affairs. I find now, except during depression, that I don’t take the trouble of thinking of the Divine... Where is Yoga? Where is the aspiration, urge, etc.? An inner certitude that everything will be done by the Guru, what? Or a tamasic beatitude? I don’t see really how the “blue moon” is going to rise.

You rely too much on your own seeing as the standard of all truth – again like D.

You actually propose “Laugh and grow fat” though laughing never makes fat!

You oppose one of the most ancient traditions of humanity by this severe statement. But your statement is mistaken even according to Science. We are now told that it is the activity of certain glands that makes you thin or fat. If glands, then why not gladness?

Really I am now wondering at my own revelry and hilarity. No particular concern about yoga, yet I am happy. What kind of psychic attitude is this, Sir?

It is not a psychic attitude, but it is better than depression.

In what biological order will you put an egg – plant or animal?

European vegetarians regard it as a vegetable – others say that unimpregnated eggs can be eaten because there is no life in them – others say that as it is not destruction of conscious life it can be done.

I would like to have Mother’s opinion on taking eggs so that I may not commit a sacrilege, if it is one.

Mother allows eggs as a special provision for health in cases like R. Otherwise she does not approve.

D was given Codein Phos syrup, and he says it instantaneously stopped the cough. Very surprising, almost miraculous, more effective and definite than Yoga-Force – his opinion.

The fellow! After my strong intervention, he now says it is not God’s Force, but Codein Phos!

Very strange, Sir, that you don’t have a single intelligent chap in the species of your Supramental race-to-be! On what do you build your hopes, please?

Excuse me, you said intelligence and interest. You might find one of these separately, but how do you hope to get them combined together? Anyhow we can’t hunt for the kind of animal you want, you really should take up the chase.


March 10, 1936

[At the end of the day’s medical report:]

About Mulshankar? How is he progressing? Have you asked him to take up some work? so we learn from B.S.27


March 11, 1936

Herewith Chand’s letter. He wants to change his residence. But if he goes to a Mohamedan mess, it would be from the frying pan into the fire. However, he wants your opinion. Have you any to offer?

Have no opinion to offer. Don’t very well understand the proposed culinary operation. He is going to earn Rs. 10 and spend 14 – and on the top of that bring his mother – to live with him in a Mohamedan mess? It sounds very modern – but too much of a mess. Irish stew – what!

He also writes that if M’s wife gets angry with him and abuses him অনর্থক [anarthak, for nothing], ণ্রটা-ণ্রটা [ṇraṭā-ṇraṭā,this and that] might happen.

He means it will then not be নিরর্থক,28 but rather সার্থক.29 Obviously! If ণ্রটা-ণ্রটা are going to happen, a shift might be preferable.

There is something enclosed in the bag. Good enough, Sir?

Very nice. But these things are generally somewhere else when one needs them.

What has happened to my typescript? Hibernating?

My dear sir, if you saw me nowadays with my nose to paper from afternoon to morning, deciphering, deciphering, writing, writing, writing, even the rocky heart of a disciple would be touched and you would not talk about typescripts and hibernation. I have given up (for the present at least) the attempt to minimise the cataract of correspondence; I accept my fate like Raman Maharshi with the plague of Prasads and admirers, but at least don’t add anguish to annihilation by talking about typescripts.


March 13, 1936

I let go the typescript, but the poem? How can I allow you to break a promise, Sir?

Break a promise? Who’s going to do that? No time was fixed – so the promise can be fulfilled, say in 1997. If you say you are not likely to be alive then, nor I either – well, our heirs can complete the transaction.

What is the use of your complaining? You have committed the grave blunder of coming into this sorrowful world with a mighty magical pen. Sri Krishna, I conjecture, may have complained about his lungs because of his incessant blowing and fluting to melt our hard hearts.

It is an idea! Strange that none of the poets has mentioned it – a modernist poet would catch at it at once, “The Flute and the Lungs,” or “Krishna’s Bronchitis.”

I am knocking about with Kanai and trying some joint meditation in the hope of getting something. Vain illusion?

Don’t know – sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.

D has presented me a copy of his novel দোলা30 and writes: সাদরে অদ্যাপি যে দরদী রইল বিষাদ সাথী31 Good Lord! can’t afford to be his companion in melancholy any more. He has beaten me hollow, what?

Ten times hollow! What the hell has made him so abnormally sensitive? He attributes his last despair deep as black Erebus to a joke of mine which he took as a personal sarcasm against him, though it was only a joke pointing out the logical outcome of his idea that you can’t love the Divine until you experience that highly elusive gentleman. I say, you are not going to be his সাথী32 in that kind of thing? If so, I shall stop joking betimes and write to you henceforth with the solemnity of an owl.

U’s lipoma can be operated upon under a local anaesthetic. Now all this question of operation is useless, because he says he is afraid. After all he has no discomfort and neither is it very big, he says, so let it be. Only I am thinking that if it grows bigger, as undoubtedly it will, unless your Force prevents it, what will be done then?

No use doing it if he is afraid. Let us wait on the Gods and hope they won’t increase the lipoma till it deserves a diploma for its size. An American skyscraper on the neck would be obviously inconvenient.

About Mulshankar’s massage – do you think a servant can be trusted to do it properly – or a sadhak, say Virabhadra, should be asked to do it. Mother wants your opinion.

You have read Nishikanta’s poem রাজহংস.33 I would like to know how far the images he has put on the back of the swan, are permissible in poetry. It seems the imagination has run riot. D also voiced the same opinion. Here is a quotation: You have shown new paths to the horse known as Uchchhaishrava... By one single quiver your dance Urvasi was born.

Isn’t it rather too much for a swan’s miraculous activity?

If you except34 matter-of-fact verisimilitude from N or a scientific ornithologically accurate swan, you are knocking at the wrong door. But I don’t see exactly the point of your objection. The lake is not a lake but a symbol – the swan is not a swan but a symbol. You can’t expect the lake merely to ripple and do nothing else or the swan simply to swim and eat and do nothing else. It is as much a symbol as the Bird of Fire or the Bird of the Vedic poet who faced the guardians of the Soma and brought the Soma to Indra (or was it to a Rishi, I have forgotten) – perhaps carrying a pot or several pots in his claws and beak!! for I don’t know how else he could have done it. How is he to use his symbol if you do not make allowances for a miraculous Swan? If the swan does nothing but what an ordinary swan does, it ceases to be a symbol and becomes only a metaphor. The animals of these symbols belong not to earth but to Wonderland.


March 14, 1936

What Sir, in your letter on “Swan and its symbol” expect has become except ? Supramental slip!

Do you mean to say this is the first you have met? I used to make ten per page formerly in the haste of my writing. Evidently I am arriving towards a supramental accuracy – spontaneous and careless in spite of the lightning speed of my epistolary movement.

I admit that the swan is a symbol, but don’t you think that behind the expressions there should be a meaning?

Yes, of course.

The Vedic bird can be imagined to be bringing pots of Soma, but what would you understand by:

তব নৃত্যে ণ্রকটি শিহরে জন্ম লভিল উর্ব্বশী?35

Take this line বাসনামত্ত মাতসে তুমি শান্ত করিলে36 – one can find some meaning, but what about the line above?

As the মত্ত মাতসে37 is significant, so Urvasi is significant – so why should there be no meaning? Of course what you signify by Urvasi is another question. For me Urvasi is the divine beauty in the vital, with its intoxication and ecstasy. Why can’t that come into being by a quiver, vibration, frisson of the dance of the Soul? Is it so meaningless? I confess that feeling it in that sense the line gave me a poetic thrill.

Isn’t it true that you can’t really love the Divine until you experience him in some way? Before that it won’t be an intense or deep love.

Your supposition conflicts with the experience of many sadhaks. I think Ramkrishna indicated somewhere that the love and joy and ardour of seeking was much more intense than that of fulfilment. I don’t agree, but that shows at least that intense love is possible before realisation.

For Mulshankar, I think the servant will do because only a slow up-and-down movement is needed. But when he is dispensed with, no longer needed, we can ask Virabhadra.

This servant is to be dismissed on the 19th, as he is found unsatisfactory in several respects. So perhaps you could press V into service as masseur.


March 15, 1936

Sahana came with a gritting sensation in the right eye. She rubbed and rubbed it since noon and it has become very red.

You didn’t tell her that rubbing and restless touching is the worst thing one can do with the eye?


March 17, 1936

Yes, intense love is possible before realisation, but some sort of a decisive experience one must have, psychic, mental or vital, before the love can be profound, solid and intense.

What do you mean by experience? Love and Bhakti are themselves an experience.

First time I heard of any such rule.

One should be able to have the vision of the loving and intensely lovable Presence of Krishna or his blue radiance sending thrills of ecstasy.

Hundreds of Bhaktas had to wait for long and many years before anything of the kind came.

Five minutes or twenty-four hours of intense rapture by your touch will do something, but it would be a hardly sufficient solid basis. One may pull on with this petty capital of 5 minutes or more raptures till some decisive experience makes the capital absolutely beyond any chance of failure or insolvency. That’s how I look at it.

That may be how you look at Love, but why should everybody else be obliged to do so?

You are again making a general sweeping rule out of your own standpoint.

Love and ardour of seeking with the same or increased intensity without any big experience may be possible in cases like Ramakrishna’s who from boyhood used to fall into trance even at the sight of blue clouds, reminding him of Krishna. Even then isn’t it said that many times he resolved to drown himself in the Ganges because the Mother wouldn’t come?

What has that to do with it? It only shows that his yearning was excessive.

Was he shaken in his faith or love, or was it the impetuosity of love that wouldn’t brook delay?

If his love was shaken, i.e. if he had ceased to want her, why the deuce should he care a damn whether she came or not? There is no question of faith, it is about love. Do you think at any time R ceased to believe in the Divine?

Don’t you think your realisation of the Self helped you in your crucial moments of struggle, kept up your faith and love?

That has nothing to do with love. Realisation of Self and love of the personal Divine are two different movements.

My struggle has never been about the Self. All that is perfectly irrelevant to the question which concerns the Bhakta’s love for the Divine.

But the sweet memory of that experience of the Self must have sustained you.

There was nothing sugary about it at all. And I had no need to have any memory of it, because it was with me for months and years and is there now though in fusion with other realisations.

We poor people in dark times which pay us frequent visits, fall back on our petty capital of Ananda, even on some of your jokes, to fortify ourselves. If such things can bring back a momentary wave of love and devotion, restored faith, how much would decisive experiences not do?...

My point is that there have been hundreds of Bhaktas who have the love and seeking without any concrete experience, with only a mental conception or emotional belief in the Divine to support them. The whole point is that it is untrue to say that one must have a decisive or concrete experience before one can have love for the Divine. It is contrary to the facts and the quite ordinary facts of the spiritual experience.

It is only the lion-hearts that can go on without any experience.

The ordinary Bhakta is not a lion-heart. The lion-hearts get experiences comparatively soon, but the ordinary Bhakta has often to feed on his own love or yearning for years and years – and he does it.


March 18, 1936

J has been asked to use mustard oil, cocoanut oil or castor oil for her eczema. Which one should she use?

Pavitra must be asked what oil he is using and that can be used – for he has found it effective. Mother thought it might be cocoanut oil, but she is not sure.


March 19, 1936

Freed once more from the devil’s claws! Just a few words about the process: I took up H’s poem, felt like writing one after reading it, failed; then went to Pranam, there found Jatin’s letter which I enclose, waiting, read it and as soon as I sat in the Hall, lo, everything fell off my shoulders or soul, as if by the breath of an invisible wave.

Yes, of course, it was the old man of the Sea, I mean of Sorrows, who dropped off because he can’t stand anything cheerful and hopeful. The main credit goes to the letter, because it has a push in it of the psychic force which took your vital and the O.M. also by surprise and knocked him off and you up, before the said vital had time to turn round and cry, “Hélas! Hélas! Alas! হায় হায়!38 Ototototoi!”

But I don’t know what did the job. Poetry, letter or Mother? The letter itself gave me a sense of something pleasant.

All together – Poetry first attempt, letter brought a good atmosphere (that was the sense of something pleasant), and both were the effect of a long pressure from me which you had resisted sitting firm in a Gandhian passive resistance.

This shows, Sir, you make me suffer unnecessarily; you can, at any moment, draw me out if it pleases you.

Not at all, you can’t be drawn out if something in you refuses and sticks like a badger in its hole. When that says “Oh damn it, after all let me get out and breathe some fresh air”, then it can be done.

Please read his letter. I am sure your heart will leap at the response to your Force, by at least one soul, what?

Excuse me, he is not the only one.

J’s is a most fascinating and convincing example. Alas, when will my hard crust be broken, and feel at least some fragments of what he feels!

The difference is that his mind is ready to accept and makes no resistance. If his vital is as willing, – the sex affair looks like it – then he can go very fast.

I don’t understand what my friend means by the disturbance in connection with the affairs of the world.

That is clear enough. His new consciousness makes him feel more strongly the opposite forces that one contacts when one moves in the world and has to do affairs and meet with others and he is afraid of a response in his vital which will upset his sadhana or create difficulties.

Evidently he is a man who is psychically sensitive or has become so to that thing which you blindly refuse to recognize even when you are in the midst of it – the play of forces. You can feel your friend’s atmosphere through the letter “so beautiful, so strengthening, so refreshing” and it has an immediate effect on you. But your mind stares like an owl and wonders “What the hell can this be?” – I suppose, because your medical books never told you about it and how can things be true which are not known either to the ordinary mind or science? It is by an incursion of an opposite kind of forces that you fall into the Old Man’s clutches, but you can only groan and cry “What’s this?” and when they are swept aside in a moment by other forces, blink and mutter “Well, that’s funny!” Your friend can feel and know at once when he is being threatened by the opposite forces – and so he can be on his guard and resist Old Nick, because he can detect at once one of his principal means of attack.

Please reply to all the points raised.

Will see, so hold on to the letter.

I went over his letter again – it is so beautiful, so strengthening and refreshing. And how beautifully he writes about the snow-flakelike falling of delight.

That’s his psychic atmosphere, sir. That is what the psychic feels like – to anyone who can contact it, “beautiful, strengthening and refreshing.”

Give me a beautiful “beating”, Sir, will you? Have not had it for a long time!

Have given you one or two smacks. No time to make it long.


March 20, 1936

Did you say “Old Man of the Sea”?


But why sea, Sir? Any allusion?

Well, traditionally, it is, I believe, old man of the mountains, but there were no mountains here, only a sea of sobs and sorrows – so I had to vary the phrase.

I find that you have forgotten to say anything about Jatin’s permission for Darshan.

Well, the permission can be given.

And please don’t forget the letter you are writing – you can write on a separate sheet as Jatin wants to see the original very much.

What letter? only remarks or lines, if they come out.


March 21, 1936

“What letter” indeed! Very well, I won’t call it a letter, call it remarks or lines, so long as it is not your marginal! Perhaps you are waiting for a Sunday?

I am waiting for a day when I won’t have to race to finish everything before 7 a.m. in the morning.

“Over the lone heights in the still air roamed,” but roamed what, Sir?

How the deuce am I to know? I wrote what came as a metrical example and the roamer didn’t come in view.

Whatever you touch becomes so beautiful, Sir. The line is roaming and humming in my mind. Oh, if you could complete it! Don’t say “some day”, Sir, which is equivalent to “never”!

Well, if not some day, some night perhaps.

About B.P. – we can take him to Valle or André who, I presume, know more about his illness.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “Valle or André”.]

No. If all fails, we will hand him over to R. But B.P. has no reaction against his illness – that is the trouble.

Well, in my chase for a dispensary guard [7.3.36], I have found Mulshankar who is very willing to do it for an hour or two, though lame.

Yes. Mulshankar has written and we have answered that he can do this work.

For J’s eczema, Pavitra put three essential factors:

1. Sunbath after oiling.

2. Cold bath immediately after sunbath.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “oiling” and “immediately”.]

Mother thought he did it after sunbath. But if it is the other way round his example must be followed – as it is his cure.

3. Cold bath should begin with the head to obviate any danger of catching cold by sudden exposure.

Yes – that is necessary.


March 22, 1936

About B.P., we can’t get the required medicines from the local pharmacy.

You might speak to G and ask him whether it isn’t possible for B.P. to be treated somewhere over there. Here his health continues to be bad and there is not the necessary skilled treatment.


March 23, 1936

René is sending me charts of the fever temperature of his cousin Badrunnissa (an Ashram nomenclature) who has been suffering from typhoid enteric (so the Colonel Doctor of Hyderabad says) with affection of chest which was suspected to be pneumonia. Now in his first chart the figures were 104°, 103°, 102°, 101° and an uninstructed layman could understand – but what are these damned medical hieroglyphs 30-112, 26-118 E 24-110, 24-110?


March 24, 1936

Here’s about the “damned hieroglyphs” you don’t understand, though I don’t understand why you don’t. If you only read Sherlock Holmes’ science of deduction and analysis which I have done lately, you would have at once realised my remark.

Sherlock Holmes arranges his facts beforehand and then detects them unlike these doctors.

Well, keep the chart vertically then it should at once be clear to you that the red line is the normal temperature line: 98.6, and the fever would be about 101.8. Then the figures below, what could they be? Well, your long association with doctors should have taught you that in a fever chart pulse rate is recorded with the temperature.

Never gave me one, so far as I remember; I mean not of this problematical kind.

If that be so, between those pairs of damned figures, one must be of pulse and which is it? Surely not 30, 26, because with that rate no charts would have been sent to you!

Naturally, I knew it must be the pulse, but what were the unspeakable 30s and 24s attached to them? And I didn’t want the pulse, I wanted the temperature. However your red line which I had not noticed sheds a red light on the matter, so that is clear now. I was holding it horizontal because of its inordinate length.

What are these 30, 26, 24 and 24 then? Just a little bit of cool thinking would again point out, Sir, that they are respiration rates – normal being 20, 22, or so. Now is it simple and easy or is it not?

No, Sir, it is not. What’s the normal respiration rate anyhow? 32 below zero or 106° above? (N.B. zero not Fahrenheit but Breathenheight.)

Can you say the same thing about your yogic hieroglyphs? By Jove, no!

There are no hieroglyphs in Yoga – except the dream and vision-symbols and nobody is expected to understand these things.

But what about E? Extravagant? Eccentric? Epatant?

Let the Sherlockian vein be pardoned. One independent criticism: I don’t know how they suspect pneumonia with a respiration rate of only 30, 26. It should bound up to at least 40. Instead with a temperature of 102°, it is only 24!

Well, both the doctors did that and one is a mighty man there, the Doctor of Doctors. But perhaps it’s the fashion in Hyderabad to breathe like that when one has pneumonia. Anyhow pn. seems to have dropped out of the picture, and the D of Ds tells only of typhoid and a possible reactivity of inactive germs of tuberculosis.

I have at last written a poem, Sir. I have avoided anapaests as far as possible.

I have brought some in, but without any impure intention – they just came.

You will see that I have tried to immortalise depression, tried to bring in power, passion and spirit of the wilderness, with what success, you may judge. Amal says that it is very good – even “fine”.

It is certainly good – in a way fine. The only defect is that it is somehow reminiscent of things that have been written before. It is difficult to be otherwise when one tries to immortalise depression – so many people have done it before you.

Today Mother said to me something during pranam – something more than “said”. I searched in my mind, heart and body – what is it I have done!

She didn’t; she only looked at you a little longer than usual.

I can take any amount of thrashing with grace, even good grace, as you have had enough evidence by now, but to take it without knowing the why or how of it, goes a little too deep, Sir.

No thrashing at all – not even the natural yearning to thrash you.

For an earthly reason, I found that I have accepted an invitation for lunch. Is that then why Mother focused her fury on my dread soul? Or is the reason unearthly?

Knew nothing about it.

Never dreamed even of the lunch – was thinking of B.P. – not of any delinquency of yours.

You can’t say there was nothing...

I can and do.

I was positively conscious that there was something and I want to know it if only to rectify myself.

Only fancy, sir, dear delightless fancy. Nothing more deceiving than these pseudo-intuitions of Mother’s displeasure and search for its non-existent reasons. Very often it comes from a guilty conscience or a feeling that one deserves a thrashing, so obviously a thrashing must be intended. Anything like that here?

The word “focus” was unintelligible? But you understand all right. I adopt the device and “your attention” to save your time and mine as well as it is obvious.

Good God! Is this Hebrew or Aramaic or Swahili? I can’t understand a word. Which device? which attention? Some reference to something I wrote? If so, it has clean gone out of my head. That by the way is a manner of speaking, for I have never anything in my head.


March 25, 1936

I am sorry for the last elision again – I wanted to write – I adopted the device and dropped your attention to save time – I find that I have dropped the word “dropped” altogether and so it became Hebrew, Aramaic or –?

Swahili. African language, sir, somewhere in West Africa.

There you are then, Sir! You admit that Mother did look a little longer than usual – that’s a point gained!

Just Jehovah, man! What of that? Can’t Mother look longer without being furious?

But quarrel over over that...

[Sri Aurobindo underlined the phrase.]

Another ellipse? or a collapse? It sounds like a line of poetry.

Or is it about that girl I wrote to you of long ago and got a smack?

Consider yourself smacked this time also.

Nothing criminal or incriminating – still enough perhaps to make the heart throb. Even my fancy is only a fancy...

Fancy? fudge! It was only a movement of the hormones.

A guilty conscience, a criminal conscience, well, that’s about the size of it. Thrashing, fury I accept all if that was what it was for.

It was not. As there was no thrashing and no fury, it could not be for that.

I am obliged to sleep out for a few days because of repairs in our house. The whole building is smelling of lime, lime and lime.

If you want to be a real Yogi, go on sniffing and sniffing at the lime till the smell creates an ecstasy in the nose and you realise that all smells and stinks are sweet and beautiful with the sweetness and beauty of the Brahman.

I chuckled, Sir, to learn that you held the chart horizontally, because of its length! And E is none of those high sounding “extravagant” words. If you had just looked about you for a moment, lifting your eyes from the correspondence, you would have discovered that E stands for nothing but a simple evening. Clear?

No. What has evening to do with it? Evening star? “Twinkle, twinkle, evening star! How I wonder what your temperatures are?” But I suppose Sir James Jeans knows and doesn’t wonder. But anyhow E for Evening sounds both irrelevant and poetic.


March 26, 1936

No, Sir, it is not at all irrelevant, though poetic. I swear it is evening. You know they take these pulse and respiration rates Morning and Evening of which M and E are shorthands, and one of which I suppose you will make mad and the other one of the three you have divined! But what is this “Jones – knows and doesn’t wonder”?

Jeans, Jeans, Jeans – not Jones!

Sir James Jeans, sir, who knows all about the temperatures, weights and other family details of the stars, including E.


March 27, 1936

Friend C again, with his woeful tale!

What a fellow! He blunders through life stumbling over every possible or impossible stone of offence with a conscientious thoroughness that is unimaginable and inimitable.

He has sent a rupee to buy something for you. But your needs are so few and you are so strict about hygiene. At times I wonder why the Divine is so meticulously particular as regards contagion, infection. Is he vulnerable to the viruses, bacilli, microbes, etc.?

And why on earth should you expect the Divine to feed himself on germs and bacilli and poisons of all kinds? Singular theology yours!

So what shall I buy

To suit the Divine taste?

But aren’t all same to him – paste

Or pudding, butter, cheese or mutton-pie?

Good Lord! I hope you are not plotting to send any such things here! Of butter and cheese I have more than I want and pudding and mutton-pie are banished from my menu.

I hear from all quarters that you are buried in letters... I don’t know how you are ever going to keep your head above the mud of the letters, for your bhaktas, admirers are increasing by leaps and bounds. In the near future they will be millions, and millions of letters heaped upon your supramental segregation, if you don’t relinquish it and come out boldly!

Come out and have millions and millions of admirers heaped upon my promiscuity? Thank you for nothing! The letters can be thrown into the W.P.B.39 more easily than the admirers can be thrown out of the window.


March 28, 1936

By the way, I think fountain-pen ink would be the thing I can buy for you, with C’s one rupee.

No. Mother says we have f.p. ink in plenty – I won’t say gallons and seas, but still. Besides the same ink has to be used always for the pen, otherwise it gets spoiled.


March 29, 1936

Your letter to D has done us a lot of good, for you have cited the example of workers there. We people need such illustrations but not of your illustrious person or the Mother’s.

You people are funny people!

I have resorted to prayer. Well, if a prayer means a call to the Above, why doesn’t the Above have the kindness to respond?

But just answer! If it responded to everybody in all circumstances, there would by this time be 100 million poets writing away for all they were worth, let us say 1000 pages of poetry a day each and publishing them. Wouldn’t it be a disaster? Wouldn’t such kindness be a cruelty to all the rest of the creation?

Throughout the history of my writing, you know that the Above has been stingily charitable to me so that all my works – very few though – have been corroded with the marks of my labour and hence fallen short of poetic excellence...

Not correct – they look quite innocent as if you had written them off with ease.

My hard labour and effort deprive me of the joy of creation and discourage me with a dread of the work. You say this is because I am an “efforter” and a “hower”. All very well, Sir, but have you shown me the Grand Trunk Road of non-effort – not to speak of leading the way?

There are two ways of arriving at the Grand Trunk Road. One is to climb and struggle and effortise, (like the pilgrim who traverses India prostrating and measuring the way with his body, – that’s the way of effort). One day you suddenly find yourself on the G.T.R. when you least expect it. The other is to quiet the mind to such a point that a greater Mind of mind can speak through it. (I am not here talking of the supramental). You will do neither. Your mind refuses to be quiet – your vital kicks at the necessity of effort. One too active, the other too lazy. How can I show you the G.T.R. when you refuse either way of reaching it?

Or would you say that a beginner can’t, at a leap, settle on the top?

Of course not!

But even a beginner should be lured by more glimpses than has been done in my case.

System of lollipops? You won’t travel to London unless you are given frequent glimpses of London before even you reach Bombay? Otherwise you will say Oh what a bother and give up?

Look at D – you yourself admitted that he had a very easy flow as soon as he started writing.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “you yourself admitted”.]

Never in my life I admitted that.

Look at NK. Do you know he writes 200-300 lines a day!

Not at all if you refer to his poetry – As soon as he started writing here, yes. That is because he caught instanter the tail of the Horse – or the Force. You seem to read what I write in a queer way and put on it very strange [constructions].

I wonder if it is possible to make prodigious and unusual poets like NK.

Was NK a prodigious and unusual poet before he came here? You seem to be so obsessed by the present development that you assume it was always there and he did it all of himself from the beginning.

Lastly about your inspiration. Amal and I have been wondering why you should have to write and rewrite your poetry – for instance, Savitri ten or twelve times. You will say the rewriting is also done by inspiration. True, but why rewrite at all?

That is very simple. I used Savitri as a means of ascension. I began with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a higher level I rewrote from that level. Moreover I was particular – if part seemed to me to come from any lower level, I was not satisfied to leave it because it was good poetry. All had to be as far as possible of the same mint. In fact, Savitri has not been regarded by me as a poem to be written and finished, but as a field of experimentation to see how far poetry could be written from one’s own Yogic consciousness and how that could be made creative. I did not rewrite Rose of God or the sonnets except for two or three verbal alterations made at the moment.

If X could receive his inspiration without any necessity for rewriting, why not you?

So could I if I wrote every day and had nothing else to do and did not care what the level of inspiration was so long as I produced something exciting.

Fault in the instrument, obstruction between the instrument and the plane of inspiration...?

The only obstruction is that I have no time to put myself constantly into the poetic creative posture and if I write at all have to get out something in the intervals of quite another concentration.

With your silence, consciousness, overmental, partly supramental, etc., etc., it should be possible to draw from the highest plane, at the slightest pull, and it should tumble down, Sir, but it doesn’t. Why not? We wonder and wonder! Could you send Alice to Wonderland and ask her to discover and divulge the secret to us – not in hints, but at length?

The highest planes are not so accommodating as all that. If they were so, why should it be so difficult to bring down and organise the Supermind in the physical consciousness? What happy-go-lucky fancy-web-spinning ignoramuses you all are. You speak of silence, consciousness, overmental, supramental, etc. as if they were so many electric buttons you have only to press and there you are. It may be one day but meanwhile I have to discover everything about the working of all possible modes of electricity, all the laws, possibilities, perils, etc., construct roads of connection and communication, make the whole far-wiring system, try to find out how it can be made foolproof and all that in the course of a single lifetime. And I have to do it while my blessed disciples are firing off their gay or gloomy a priori reasonings at me from a position of entire irresponsibility and expecting me to divulge everything to them not in hints but at length. Lord God in omnibus!


March 31, 1936

I was not at all speaking of the whole world, neither am I concerned with it. I was asking why my prayers were not answered by the Above as in others’ cases.

Good Lord! you are not part of the world? Then you must be a Jivanmukta and no need of prayer.

Specially when that Above lives opposite my house40 and encourages my writing.

The Above may encourage your writing, but it does not follow that he will deal with you in the same way as with D. যে যথা মাং প্রপদ্যন্তে41

I admit that my vital is lazy, because it is afraid of too much labouring, 4 lines in 40 hours!

Yes, but if the vital were not lazy you would not have to labour-like that. It is lazy in labouring but it is also lazy in responding – it is a slow-mover.

Not only that, but also my mind does not know precisely how to silence itself. This second point applies to D too. How then does he manage to receive from Above?

The difference is that as his mind has opened to the Above, the Above can turn its activity into an activity of the Inspiration – its quickness, energy, activity enable it to transcribe quickly, actively, energetically what comes into it from the Above. Of course if one day it becomes silent also, it may probably become the channel of a still higher inspiration.

Did D’s vital become active and magnificent because somehow he could more easily draw in the Inspiration?

No – that is inborn in D. It was the first thing Mother said about D (long before he came here for Yoga) when she saw him through the blinds of the door “What a powerful vital!”

I can tell you that my own vital has done that feat when a flow was felt.

Yes, but D’s vital strength is inborn, though it may not have at first been open to the poetic inspiration. When it did it could leap at once with full energy and gave itself entirely to the flow – It was not the flow that made it “magnificent”.

I find that D didn’t have to struggle as much as I – his magnificent vital magnificently and easily worked away as the Inspiration was not jerky and halting as in my case. My lazy vital is perforce lazy because the stream of Inspiration descends by drops. At the same time I confess that I am by nature rather indolent.

As usual, you are putting the thing upside down – Your last admission does away with the whole two pages of special pleading.

Is silencing the mind to be done only at the time of writing or at other times too, or one can’t be done without the other?

Silencing the mind at the time of writing should be sufficient – even not silencing it, but its falling quiet to receive.

Suppose I find two lines:

Forgive me, Master, if I doubt thy Light

Guiding my destiny, through a long trail,

without any preformed idea of the poem, I think what can rhyme with light or trail – bright height, sail, fail, etc., and try to fit in an idea with the rhymes...

Just the thing you should not do. Let the rhyme come, don’t begin dragging all sorts of rhymes in to see if they fit.

Do you want to say that if I have discovered some lines I must not think of the next lines, but try instead to keep absolutely silent so that with a leap I find the greater Mind has simply dropped the necessary rhymed lines, like a good fellow, and I finish off excellently without a drop of black sweat on my wide forehead?

That is the ideal way; but usually there is always an activity of the mind jumping up and trying to catch the inspiration. Sometimes the inspiration, the right one, comes in the midst of this futile jumping, sometimes it sweeps it aside and brings in the right thing, sometimes it inserts itself between two blunders, sometimes it waits till the noise quiets down. But even this jumping need not be a mental effort – it is often only a series of suggestions, the mind of itself seizing on one or eliminating another, not by laborious thinking and choice, but by a quiet series of perceptions. This is method no. 2. No. 3 is your Herculean way, quite the slowest and worst.

From the very start NK has been a prodigious writer. He and Jasimuddin – now a renowned poet – used to sit together to write poetry. NK would finish 3 or 4 poems and go to bed, get up in the morning to find his friend still struggling with a few lines.

While one person breaks his head over a few lines, another composes three or four poems.

That is fluency, not necessarily inspiration. Southey used to write like that, I believe, but you don’t call Southey an inspired poet, do you?

I cite all this to show that it is not primarily the silencing of the mind or the dynamic vital, but cases born with a wide opening somewhere...

The activity of the vital is there in N as well as in Dilip.

I don’t see why you brought in “the organisation of the Supermind in the physical consciousness” into the talk about your poetic inspiration. The first is collective, the second individual.

Excuse me, it was you who brought in Overmind etc. in connection with my poetry and asked why having these things I had to rewrite Savitri many times instead of pouring out 24,000 lines a day.

L wants her little growth in the cheek to be excised. She forgets to apply medicine, regularly. A simple operation is the only alternative.

Mother considers it better to go on with the medicine.


April 1, 1936

I have worked today from 1-30 to 6-15 p.m. – 5 hours! – and composed only 16 lines!

But that is quite magnificent – 16 lines in one day, 3.5 lines an hour about! Remember that Virgil used only to write 9 lines a day. At this rate you will end by being twice as inspired and fluent as Virgil.

Saurin has hurt his thumb in the train and it seems to be in a bad condition. Go and see and give the necessary treatment.


April 2, 1936

By the way, I hope you didn’t intend to make me an April-fool mentioning Virgil and Nirod in the same pen-stroke!

[In pencil:] What a modest poet! Most think themselves the superior of Homer, Milton and Shakespeare all added together.

Another letter from Jatin. He has asked for the reply to his previous letter. Please do write something tonight, Sir. Do find out his letter from your heap – I can see it from here – and just a few marks and remarks will do. That’s like the Divine! Give that time you would have spent on the long letter I was going to write, but I suspend it for getting this chance!

Sorry, but your luck is not brilliant. Had a whole night i.e. after 3 no work – was ready to write. Light went off, in my rooms only, mark – tried candle power, no go. The Age of Candles is evidently over. So “requests, beseeches, entreats” were all in vain. Not my fault. Blame Fate! However, I had a delightful time, 3 hours of undisturbed concentration on my real work, – a luxury denied to me for ages. Don’t tear your hair. Will be done another day with luck.

And what about the rooms in the Ashram for him and his wife?

By himself accommodation in Ashram easy – with wife difficult, in fact seems impossible. Can’t put them together.


April 3, 1936

[I sent back the letter of April 2, 1936 to Sri Aurobindo.]

I could not read what you wrote yesterday, Sir. Absolutely unreadable! Not even by Nolini was it possible!

I repeat then from memory. “What a modest poet! Most think in their heart of hearts that they are superior to Homer, Virgil, Milton and Shakespeare all piled upon and fused into each other.”42

Tomorrow is 4th April!43 We are commemorating it thus:

1) Nishikanta sends a big poem – splendid, exquisite. By Jove, what a flow and what a poem! Do read it at once, Sir, and let the correspondence go to H – for one day!

Correspondence can’t be sent to H, either way, unless the light goes out – and then where will the poems go?

2) A poem by my humble self. I don’t like it much, and Amal says that it is rather jerky and rough.44

Yes, the rhythm is defective in many places.

Apart from it, what about the rhyme scheme and the conclusion?

The rhyme scheme all right. The conclusion is all right too.

Nishikanta suggests that I should add a few more lines. If that would enhance the beauty I shall try.

No, it would spoil the force of the contrast you have made by minimising it.

In the last line, is the idea clear?

No. But it is much better with the meaning I have now put into it.

Yes, I was almost going to tear my hair but your “delightful time” prevented me from doing it! But I hold J’s reply till Sunday after which I will tear my hair certainly.

Preserve it – preserve your precious hair. Be calm, be patient!

I don’t understand whether it is the yogic or accommodation trouble that stands in the way of putting them together.

Who is “them” – your hairs? What an abrupt Tacitean writer you are.

Well, you can put them separately, I am sure Jatin will agree so long as he and his wife are given rooms in the Ashram.

It is because we can’t put them together that it is impossible. There is no sufficient separate room for ladies.

I shall tell him the situation, unless you don’t want her at all to stay in the Ashram, in which case he will be compelled to stay outside.

It is not a question of wanting, but of space.

I don’t think he will object to staying out. So?

Then it is all right.

Sorry. Nishikanta was too vast for me. Very fine though. Shall send on next time.

I hear R.K. has walked off and one of the reasons is his eyes! Why are they not cured? etc. God knows – we have tried our best and he was practically all right. I don’t understand why there was the relapse suddenly, do you?

He was already wanting to go when they were all right and then turned round and said he had conquered the devil and would never leave – So the devil probably got into his eyes and made him blink towards the Panjab. His eyes were not the cause but an excuse. He had not much vocation for Yoga and the Mother had sent him off twice as unfit, but he came back as R.B.’s escort and sat down, and now he has got up and gone. But B.P. has no intention of going.


April 4, 1936

But you don’t say anything about the poem as it is now – bad, good, very good, or what?

As it is now, very good.

You see, all our values depend on how you appraise them. If Mother smiles at somebody, we think him good, if she doesn’t, well, must be wrong somewhere, we conclude and be on our guard.

What a blunder! Don’t you know that the Divine smiles equally on the wicked and the good together?

About poetry it would be more so, specially in my case.

What a coupling of disparates!

You know I’m a self-depreciating fellow, so your silence would worsen matters. But presuming it to be good, where does my credit lie after so much correction? Can I call the original version good poetry?

Your credit lies in a substance which could not realise its possibilities because of your damnable errors in rhythm – It was good poetry in substance but spoiled by errors of form.

Even in the original the lines from, “As one stands rapt –” to “The Infinite” are very good – except when they become rhythmically very bad. What the hell do you mean by trying trochees like

In whose / g1lded/shackles / we laugh / and weep,


Into / a profound/ st1llness / of lone / sky-heights,

or worst of all

The fi/nite for/ one br1ef / moment/cl1mbs.

Do you think you are adult enough yet for such Hitlerian violences to English metre?

Do you find in my piece any influence of your poem The Rishi which I read a few days ago? Permissible, such influence?

It may be there but I did not find it. The only result was a greater elevation and strength in the poetic speech. No objection can be made to an influence like that. It is imitation and reproduction that are objectionable.

By the way, Sir, you couldn’t write to me [2.4.36] because your lights went off. I thought you have a kerosene lamp with a pumping business and burner – God knows the name.

[Sri Aurobindo put question marks above “pumping” and “business”.]

Who gives these wonderful news?

Of course I have a lamp but it is not available at 2.30. Do you think I am going to wake up the whole house at that hour?

I intended long ago to procure one for your emergency use. Shall I try? That would only crush all your chances of a “delightful time”!

No, sir, no pumping business for me!

But concentration on “real work” [2.4.36]? Good Lord, you do that from 9 or 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. God alone knows what you do then.

What is this transcendental rubbish?

Perhaps you send Force to Germany, Abyssinia, or make a leap to the Supramental?

That is not my real work. Who except the devil is going to give force to Germany? Do you think I am in league with Hitler and his howling tribe of Nazis?

We speculate and speculate. Next, you concentrate from 6 p.m. – 11 or 12. Still not enough?

Who gave you this wonderful programme? Invented it all by your ingenious self? From 4 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. afternoon correspondence, meal, newspapers. Evening correspondence from 7 or 7.30 to 9. From 9 to 10 p.m. concentration, 10 to 12 correspondence, 12 to 2.30 bath, meal, rest, 2.30 to 5 or 6 a.m. correspondence unless I am lucky. Where is the sufficient time for concentration?

B.P. complains of aches in the whole body. Since his going is not yet settled, shall we give him pot. iod + mercury?

Use your discretion. I am thinking after a time when R has got through his present long and difficult cases outside, of asking him to take this hopeless fellow up, but it is not yet a firm decision.

Again a boil on my left cheek, good Heavens! No improvement.

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “no improvement”.]

As Rene’s doctor says “Tut tut tut! Tut tut tut!”

Punishment for too much talking or eating or subconscious welling out?



April 5, 1936

Boil a little ripe, but still –

Hard and big as hazel-nut,

In spite of your tut, tut, tut!

Give one more dose at the least

Or I howl on like a beast!

Tut nut tut not nut tut tut! Hope this will have the effect of a Tantric mantra which it resembles. So if you like OM ling bling hring kring! Just try repeating either of these 15000 times concentrating on your boil (bling) at the time.


April 6, 1936

“Remnants that throbbed once with sweet songs of life

Bespeak now tragic dooms and ghastly tales

Of travellers – still roam their wounded wails

Echoing in the desolate air and cliff.”

This is too tragic, ghastly and romantic. It sounds like the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe.

Yes, that wonderful programme was partly my ingenious discovery and partly contribution and speculation by others. Anyway, from what you first wrote and cancelled, I find that from 8.30 a.m. to 2.30 or 3 p.m. you do your real work – for earth-consciousness.

How do you find that? After 8.30 a.m. I have nothing to do with the earth-consciousness.

Hard, throbbing, painful boil. Slight fever, headache in the morning. Hot fomentation etc. Went to the miracle doctor, 4 powders! Added to these the Force! Does it budge? The game must be over tomorrow, Sir. Otherwise I have to lie flat!

All this for a poor little boil? What would it be if you were put to roast?

By the way, what do you mean by deceiving me about E in the Hyderabad fever chart? René wrote that E is the entry in the “Motions” column; it evidently means enema. Poetry indeed! sunset colours indeed! Enema, sir! Motions, sir! Compared with that ling bling is epically poetic.

[A reply to Jatin Bal’s letter discussed on March 19, 1936.]

I shall only comment briefly – I am obliged to be brief – on your friend Jatin’s experiences.

He is to be congratulated on the victory in the matter of sex – it is very important to have that when the intense definitive experiences are beginning. For if once the actual penetrative descent is felt, the less the higher consciousness is met by the sex force the better, for then a dangerous mixture may take place or else a struggle which is better avoided.

The description of the Power he feels – which is obviously the true thing – is very accurate – it is so, like rain or a fall of snow, that it often comes at first. I take it from his use of the word “around”, that it is an enveloping power that he feels. It does not begin for all in the same way – some only feel it above their heads occasionally descending on them and entering.

About the contact with the world and the hostile forces, that is of course always one of the sadhak’s chief difficulties, but to transform the world and the hostile powers is too big a task and the personal transformation cannot wait for it. What has to be done is to come to live in the Power that these things, these disturbing elements cannot penetrate, or, if they penetrate, cannot disturb, and to be so purified and strengthened by it that there is in oneself no response to anything hostile. If there is a protecting envelopment, an inner purifying descent and, as a result, a settling of the higher consciousness in the inner being and finally, its substitution even in the most external outwardly active parts in place of the old ignorant consciousness, then the world and the hostile forces will no longer matter – for one’s own soul at least; for there is a larger work not personal in which of course they will have to be dealt with; but that need not be a main preoccupation at the present stage.

I have already answered to you about his coming for darshan in August; so I need not repeat that here.


April 7, 1936

What would it be if I were put to roast? Anilkumar is rubbing hard his formula every day saying – very difficult! Now your threat comes. If it comes to that I shall exclaim:

গুরুপাদপদ্মায় নমো নমঃ45

Why singular? A respected person is supposed to have more than 2 feet – witness the formula – শ্রীচরণেষু.46

But let me add that my roasting has already begun, not in your spiritual oven, but in the barometric oven. Dilip and myself have decided to cycle off to the Lake in the early hours of the morning. As it is not possible to get a cycle at that hour from outside, what about getting it from here?

Can’t ask Benjamin for a cycle at that time. He would eat our heads off and yours too. This cyclo-mania is becoming too epidemic – we won’t be able to supply at that rate.

And this time it’s not a “melancholiac” that asks but a maniac, you may say!


Boil has burst today! Swelling less, pain none but still it is oozing and oozing. By tomorrow it will be over, I hope. R’s treatment continues.

R has written to me insisting that you should continue the treatment for a fortnight even after the oozing is past history – so as to erect a barrier against farther boilings.

I beg your pardon, Sir! Enema didn’t strike me at all. But I hope it didn’t make any difference in the working of your Force unless you enematised the patient too much. It is a pleasure to learn that one can deceive the Divine, however!

If the Divine chooses to be deceived, anyone can deceive him – just as he can run away from the battle; পলায়নমপি47 You are evidently not up to the tricks of the Lila.


April 8, 1936

Have you heard anything about S of Dayalbagh?...

Certainly, I have been hearing about him or his sect for ages. He is, besides the Guru of M’s family.

According to Paul Brunton’s account, he is doing some genuine work. It seems S’s principle is – “... I am attempting to show the world... that a man can be perfectly spiritual without running away to caves, and that he can reach the highest attainments in Yoga while carrying on with worldly avocations.”48 He has founded an elaborate system of factories, textiles, machines, scientific instruments, electric fans, run by his disciples.

How does he show it? The world can see his textiles and machines and electric fans, but how is it to know that his men are perfectly spiritual? “Showing the world” is a dangerous aim to start with – it ends generally in the world as it is and always was + a show.

Isn’t it similar to your doctrine or to that of Karmayoga?

More like the latter much modernised. Or rather he is carrying out without knowing it the plan I had laid down for Motilal Roy...

One sees perhaps a glimpse of your future work here.

[Underlining “your future work”:]

Good Lord, man! don’t make such dismal prophecies. As I have said, it is an American magnification of my past work, nothing to do with my future work at all.

And the Yoga they follow is the “Sound-Yoga”. What is this new business again? He says, “... a current of sound was the first activity of the Supreme Being at the beginning of creation...”49

Not new at all – as old as the Himalayas. You seem to be remarkably ignorant of the past history of Yoga in India. It is only a specialised statement of the general Tantric theory of the Seed Sounds. Something like my OM Tut tut tut bring kring, which you refused to try. If you had –

He says that Kabir also taught Sound-Yoga.

The basic idea is at least three thousand years older than Kabir. It is simply a big name for the use of the mantra.

Anyway I am not very much interested in all this. There is something else now about which I want your opinion – “... that the innermost parts of our brain centres are associated with subtle worlds of being... that the most important centre of all enables us to obtain divine consciousness of the highest order.”50

Nothing new in that – except that it ignores the part played by the subtle body and packs all into the gross physical. But that too has been done before.

“The most important of these centres is the pineal gland... It is the seat of the spirit-entity in man.”51

[Sri Aurobindo underlined “pineal gland.”]

Ancient, ancient, very ancient! The Theosophists, I believe, made a big noise about the pineal gland.

It is said that if you shoot a man through this gland, he instantaneously dies.

So he does if you shoot him in other places, the heart for instance. So the spirit entity is there too?

“It is the focus of the individual spirit-entity which gives life and vitality to man’s mind and body. It is when this spirit-entity recedes from the pineal gland that the conditions of dream, deep sleep or trance supervene, and when it finally leaves the gland the body falls dead.”52

Christ!! But how can it recede without leaving the gland?

“When it [the spirit-entity] leaves the pineal gland and passes upwards, its passage through the grey matter of the brain brings it into contact with the region of universal mind, and its passage through the white matter exalts its consciousness to lofty spiritual realities...”53

Sounds rather stuffy, but it may be true for all I know. These theosophic and other modern attempts to square physical Science with Yoga (Yogis formerly did not bother to differentiate the spiritual functions of grey matter and white matter) make me always suspicious. It looks like manufacture of the mind, pseudo-science.

It is true however that a passage in the Upanishads is supposed to give the soul hired lodgings in the pineal gland.

You know that medical men are still hazy about the definite functions of this gland. Some consider it a useless piece of matter like the appendix; others attribute vague functions to it. But according to Yoga, it seems to be a very important organ. What’s your idea?

I have no idea. Never bothered about the pineal gland. In fact my spirit entity “receded from” it and even “finally left” it long ago without my dying – at least I seem to myself to be alive still.

You will add sarcastically: “There are many more things in heaven and earth etc. than in your medical Science!” Do tell us about a few of them.

I absolutely refuse.

The Kundalini business also seems a mystery to me. I read somewhere that the soul sojourns in the brain! Heard of it?

Now for the first time. Did hear that it might be somewhere up there in a thing called a chakra or lotus.

Is this spirit-entity the same as the soul, residing in the pineal gland?

Maybe. But the soul is also supposed to be somewhere in or behind the heart, i.e. cardiac centre. But perhaps that is only the soul-entity and not the spirit-entity? God knows – and perhaps S also. I don’t.

Allow me to state my difficulty. How the devil can a spirit-entity be enclosed in a material gland? So far as I know the self or spirit is not enclosed in the body, rather the body is in the self. When we have the full experience of the self, we feel it as a wide consciousness in which the body is a very small thing, an adjunct or a thing contained, not a container. What then is this spirit-entity? There can be a small formation which stands for the self or spirit, like the Upanishads’ Purusha no bigger than a man’s thumb. Is this the spirit-entity? But even then in what sense, in what relativity of space can it be said to be in the very material pineal gland? A spirit confined in a gland and dislodged from it by a pistol shot is a kind of language which I buck at. A spirit touching grey brain matter and so entering into contact with universal mind and touching white matter and so entering into contact with loftier spiritual realities is also too weird a conception for my intelligence. What happens to it when it has no matter to touch? Dissolution? laya?

When we speak of the Purusha in the head, heart etc., we are using a figure. The Muladhara from which the Kundalini rises is not in the physical body, but in the subtle body – (the subtle body is that in which the being goes out in deep trance or more radically, at the time of death); so also are all the centres. But as the subtle body penetrates and is interfused with the gross body, there is a certain correspondence between these chakras and certain centres in the physical proper. So figuratively we speak of the Purusha in this or that centre of the body. Owing to this correspondence, again, when the Ananda or anything else comes down into the being, it is the subtle body that it pervades, but it communicates itself through it to the gross body and its consciousness, so that it is felt as if pervading the body. But all that is very different from saying that the spirit is lodged in a gland. The gross body is an engine, a means of communication and action of the spirit upon the world and it is only a small part of the instrumentation. It is absurd to make so much of it as all that. It is a sort of false materialism intended to placate minds that have a scanty knowledge of science. But what is the use of that? Everybody now knows that science is not a statement of the truth of things, but only a language expressing a certain experience of objects, their structure, their mathematics, a co-ordinated and utilisable impression of their processes – it is nothing more. Matter itself is something (a formation of energy perhaps?) of which we know superficially the structure as it appears to our mind and senses and to certain examining instruments (about which it is now suspected that they largely determine their own results, Nature adapting its replies to the instrument used), but more than that no scientist knows nor can know. If the Radhaswami affirmations are meant to be another kind of language expressing certain psycho-physical experiences, I have no objection. But why all this pineal glandism and talk about entities and bullets?

N.B. If I say the Purusha is in the heart, do I mean it is there in the physical heart, tumbling about in the flow of the blood or stuck in the valves or the muscular portions and when a bullet lodges in the heart it jumps up with an Ooah! and tumbles down dead or goes off skating and swimming into some grey or white matter worlds beyond? Certainly not. I am using a significant language which expresses certain relations between the psychic consciousness and the physical of which we become aware by Yoga.


April 9, 1936

My big photo requires Sanjiban’s treatment. Granted permission?

What? which? where? how? What disease? what medicine wanted?

Amrita says no water should drain into the street except rain water. But we have to wash frequently the Dispensary courtyard as it’s too hot. What’s the solution of the impasse?

If it is for coolness, sprinkling ought to be sufficient. Why Noah’s flood in a dispensary courtyard merely for antidoting heat?


April 10, 1936

By “my big photo” I meant your photo, which would be drawn by Sanjiban.

You are always plunging me into new mysteries. If it is a photo, how can it be “drawn” by anybody? And what is the tense, connotation and psychological and metaphysical annotation of “would be” here?

You see the photo is being eaten up by insects, so it has to be tightened and papered, I suppose. I should have written Biren’s treatment, but since Sanjiban has drawn it, I thought it was his case. So all interrogations answered, permission granted?


Why did you stop your treatment – or rather R’s?

Did you really want me to chant the mantra? I took it as a big piece of a hearty joke. Who knew that so much Biblical significance and value were hiding behind this simple mantra?...

You couldn’t realise that Tut Tut Tut was a serious mantra with immense possibilities? Why, it is the modern form of तत्54 and everybody knows that ॐ तत् सत्55 is a mantra of great power. Only you should as a penance for not having accepted at once do it, not 15,000, but 150,000 times a day – at a gallop, e.g. OM Tut a Tut, tut a tut, tut a TUT and so on at an increasing pace and pitch till you reach either Berhampur56 or Nirvana.

I am not only ignorant about all things spiritual, Atma, Yog-biyog etc., but they are as nauseating to me as quinine which I had to gulp in childhood. And see the trick of Fate, it is such things now that I am called upon to do.

You are justly punished – but what is Yog-biyog? I thought that had to do with mathematics, not spiritual philosophy.

Is it for nothing that I see the Red Light burning in the subtle worlds, as the outcome of my misadventure?

Take courage. Say Tut tut tut to the misadventure and go ahead.


April 11, 1936

1 stopped R’s treatment because the boil has boiled down. Now he wants to protect me against “farther boilings” of which I am rather doubtful. Still I will surrender myself to him.

Could try at any rate, – as these things are always coming back.

But then I am afraid because I hear he has been rather too free with his hands and mouth of late!

Are you referring to the baptism of S? What has that to do with treatment?


April 12, 1936

I have resumed R’s treatment. Yes, I meant “S’s baptism” by R as well as his hooliganism on the rickshaw-wala. Why, surely you have heard of it? No connection with the treatment? What connection was there between R and the rickshaw-wala? but the incident occurred!

Well, as for S the surprising thing is that nobody baptised him before. R says, I hear, that he jumped on the ricksha-wala in order to save N from battle, murder and sudden death, and N ungratefully misreported the whole affair!! But R has always been a violent man with much of the character of the adventurer as I wrote to you once, – so the things you write don’t surprise me. However, he has not (yet, at least) beaten David’s57 mother or baptised the Vice President’s wife – or even Amaladasan. So I hope that a certain amount of non-connection can be expected when he is treating a case.

Since we are talking about R, let me relate another incident. S had borrowed my copy of Anami and then came and avowed that R had taken it from him and never returned it. When asked, R flatly denied. He also took S’s Chambers’s dictionary. I myself have seen that it is S’s for he had underlined many words in it, as is his practice. I am really amazed!

What is there amazing? My experience is that in India more people than not keep the books of others and feel under no obligation to return them.

But could it be that S himself presented it to R and at the last moment drew back due to some hitch? But S is not the man to present anybody with anything. A riddle, Sir!

Quite possible. S is capable of anything, so is R. The difference in that respect between them is that R has a good side to him and that he is conscious of the large share in himself of what he calls “the pig and tiger instincts”.

By the way, what does your newspaper say about Abyssinia? It seems to be sinking into the abyss. Another black country swallowed by the whites? Prayers, entreaties to God, of no avail! The devils are too strong for God? What?

Why all this sentimental fury? This and worse has been happening ever since mankind replaced and improved on the ape and the tiger. So long as men are what they are, these things will happen. What do you expect God to do about it? The Abyssinians have conquered others, Italy conquers the Abyssinians, other people have conquered the Italians and they will probably be sat upon again hereafter. It is the Law, sir, and the Great Wheel and everything else. Keep your head cool in the heat. If you want to change things, you will have to change humanity first and I can assure you you will find it a job. Yes, even to change 150 people in an Ashram and get them to surmount their instincts.

You will perhaps say that justice and retribution will come in time.

Good Lord, why should I say such things? Was I ever a moralist or a preacher? Justice was never the determinative factor in a war.

S the head mason is having a headache and vomiting for the last two years. Seems to be due to dietetic indiscretion, but queer that it persists so long...

Probably persistence due to want of dieting. But impossible to diet a Tamilian – too many spices and things.

If you advise any treatment here, we can try to cure his constipation by a mild laxative, and liver by Lithinée.

Lithinée probably too mild for such a case. Are there no specific medicines from France with Pavitra – you might ask him.


April 14, 1936

[In the medical note-book:]

Sir, couldn’t finish what I began with your other book, so kept it. Will see tonight if Time and the Gods are favourable. Pray to them meanwhile.


April 15, 1936

What, Sir? Mistake? Where is my medical report book? I suppose and conclude from the unfinished nature of the writing58 that you wanted to detain this book and send back the other one. Right?

Kept the wrong book. (Reminds me of the Sultan of Johore who when the Englishmen on board his ship were inveighing in fury against the murder of Sir Curzon Wylie by an Indian, wanted to sympathise and moaned out “Very bad! very bad! shot the wrong man!”)


April 16, 1936

The trouble is that I can’t tell J all that I think of her poetry, so I keep silent, whereas she goes on with her flourishes.

Well, let her flourish while you maintain a wise silence!


April 17, 1936

Jatin Bal has sent two photos of his wife. She seems to have a calm, cool and comely face, along with a simplicity in bearing.

It is rather gentle and simple than calm; but not strong. Can’t say anything more at present.


April 18, 1936

Venkatraman’s temperature is 102°. He feels “wretched”. I’ve prescribed some fever mixture.

If the fever continues, I suppose there must be mixture.

He’s begging for the Mother’s Mercy, Compassion, Grace, Force, etc., etc. Is it coming?

Is he receiving it?

A simple pharyngitis running its course of 4-5 days.

Venkatraman’s illness is that? However simple not surprising he should be wretched.

Then the Force is playing the same part as the medicines – if at all, Sir, I am thinking.

Think on! think hard! Think, brothers, think!

Mulshankar is having headache, pain as if his left eye were coming out, strong constipation, – when headache, then inability to eat or drink water without vomiting. I have told him to go to you. You know it is extremely important to prevent constipation and a watch must be kept on that head of his. Needn’t tell him anything except to come to you at once if there are these things.


April 19, 1936

Venkatraman had an experience of “something solid being pushed in him, at pranam”. Now, that’s something. I wonder why the Mother didn’t do the same before.

I wonder why he didn’t receive it before.

Why, Sir, seems you don’t read the reports well? I told you his was a congested throat – that means tonsils, pharynx – everything. And when I said pharyngitis – you asked whether his illness was that.

Then why do you say a simple pharyngitis when it is “everything” under the sun?

Feeling a bit worried, Sir, about H. He is absolutely stationary! Fault of the medicine or the instrument? He also doesn’t receive the Force?

Never did except by an occasional accident of which he immediately repents.

Noni came today for ringworm and incidentally showed sores on the soles. He said he was under R’s treatment – the sores were getting better when R stopped treatment. When they became worse, Noni approached R who refused further treatment as he had “written to Mother” about his cure.

My information is Noni was cured first time, but there was a relapse which was treated – I don’t remember with what result. Have heard nothing about it afterwards.

Noni asked. “Shall I write again?” to which R said, “No, I have no time.” So he has come to the non-miracle doctor! But why no time, please?

Can’t say – it is true he has been very much occupied recently.

By Jove, what a fright you gave me, Sir, about Mulshankar! He told me that this business [headache, constipation, etc.] has been his companion for about 14 years. It’s neither worse now nor less severe. All the same his accident makes it more important... I have emphasised on this constipation to be relieved as soon as it pokes its belly up!

All right.

But queer to think that the fellow discussed the matter with V (specialist in constipation), while I was sitting just there. Not a word to me! Funny, strange, curious!

Especially as I have told him that V “talks foolishly” and asked him not to listen to him.


April 20, 1936

Noni came to enquire if I had told you anything! Can he go to R? Wouldn’t it be better since he cured him once?

If R is willing to take him up.

How is it that my patients go on lingering and lingering even with a trifling thing? Some don’t receive Force, others repent it, others receiving have no effect, etc., etc., and I have to quarrel with you for a dose? Whereas R has it in a flood simply for the asking or even without. R cures cancer in 10 days, goitre in 2 weeks and diabetes in 7 days.

Hallo! 10 days?

Which was the diabetes case? I have forgotten.

Immense energy, enthusiasm, vital force, 100 miles an hour determination to succeed and a 2000 horse power confidence, “I will do it” – vital absolutely convinced of the Force, mind constantly finding reasons for belief in it (not as you and others do equally or more, admitting reasons against); rapid intuitions getting there in spite of any errors of speculation, decision of mind and will accompanied by a mobile and plastic observing mind suiting itself to the circumstances and then overcoming them – that’s the secret of a powerful instrumentalism – at least in a rajasic man. A sattwic fellow would do it also but on other lines. You – ahem!

Doctor in the same boat as the patients? When will you put me on the “Queen Mary”?

When will you walk in? Very dawdling and deliberate gait, sir!


April 21, 1936

The qualities you enumerate of the rajasic man’s instrumentalism are more inborn than acquired, it seems to me.


I doubt whether they can be acquired to the same extent, except by Yoga.

If they are acquired to a sufficient extent, that is enough.

Even if acquired by Yoga, won’t there be a difference between the instrumentalism of the one born with them and the other who has acquired them?

There may be a difference, but this is after all not a competitive examination. If one can be a good and strong instrument, that is enough.

These qualities seem very well on a piece of paper, but not so easy to get in practical life.

They are not easy for those who have not got them; quite easy for those who have.

For instance, the intuition you speak of is a deuced difficult thing to make out, and in the field of application all mobility, plasticity, observation play false, or make a mess unless one knows the business very well.

Naturally one must know the business. But there is an enormous difference between a man who knows his business and has confidence and intuition and one who knows his business but has not. I have known doctors with an excellent knowledge of medicine who succeeded much less than others who had far less but had dash, decision and drive.

At times I try to analyse myself to find out my defect – lack of adequate knowledge? Lack of experience? Lack of confidence?

Even if you had knowledge and experience, you would still hesitate. There would be always an “after all”, “is it this or that?”, “I may be off the mark”, “Is it this, is it that?” etc.

I blame the first two, but you seem to think they are secondary, and confidence is the essential requisite. Suppose I am given a case whose exact nature I don’t know, and without knowing it I can’t cure. How will my self-confidence help in such a case?

The self-confident doctor decides as best he can and acts – if he finds he is making fausse route, he retraces his steps and corrects. He develops in himself the coup d’oeil which does not depend only on reasoning and finally manages to be right in the majority of cases. You may say that he may kill his patients when he is wrong. But so does the hesitant doctor by his hesitation – e.g. by not taking a step which is urgently required.

All this is of course, general. I am not asking you to imitate the quick step people – because without their confidence and savoir faire you would only bungle it. স্বধর্মে নিধনং শ্রেয়ঃ (of the patient, of course), পরধর্মো ভয়াবহঃ59

I had hoped that the Force would drop in one day and dynamise the being. That illusion has gone. Now I find that I shall have to work for it slowly, slowly, bit by bit till one day, one year, one decade my labour culminates in what I hope for now. That is how, I suppose, the faith in the Force, higher Shakti, etc. fulfil themselves.

“One century, one millennium” – be complete please in your enumeration.

That is just it. It is the “slowly slowly” mind and “let us consider all the facts and reason the whole thing and its possibilities and impossibilities” mind, that stands in your way.

You have said, “A sattwic fellow would do it also, but on other lines.” Will you tell us how?

I would prefer to wait till I have the said sattwic man in my hand. The sattwic man would have less vital rush, more balance, harmony, even working out of the Force – He might do less surprising things or rather give them a less surprising appearance, but possibly he would be more quietly sure.

You have said to J that my natural bent is pessimistic. But why then is there such an ambition, aspiration, desire to be pure and perfect in life as well as in literature? What a paradox!

It is two different portions of your being – One wants to climb mountains, the other which stands at the foot or is climbing or rather being haled up the first steps of ascent, pulls back, groans, grunts, growls, wails and cries “That? all that height? Tchah! pooh! I’ll never be able to negotiate one ten thousandth part of that! Let me sit down and lament.”

Took H to hospital. Oculist says atropine not necessary.

His eyes seem to be worse rather than better.

What about asking R to take up B.P.’s trachoma case, if he is free now?

I would rather not for the moment. R has Ambu on his hands, two heavy baggages still in the town and other lighter items.


April 22, 1936

By Jove, that handwriting of yours is a brilliantly unique specimen! So I have to send back the note-book! Well, but what’s the cure? That impossible mantra [10.4.36] which you gave me, I am trying by fits and starts!

Good Lord! What mantra? OM Tut a tut to to towhit tuwhoo? Man! But it is to be recited only when you are taking tea in the company of four Brahmins pure of all sex ideas and 5 ft. 7 inches tall, with a stomach in proportion. Otherwise it can’t be effective.

Waiting patiently for the blue moon, should I all the while cry out “damn it, damn it!”?

But that’s another mantra. One for which the blue moon has a special dislike.

I have checked one wave so far. Any more coming on the top of it?

Wave of what? Wave of genius? wave of poetry? Wave of the blues? For heaven’s sake write comprehensibly!

Is it really an illusion I am cherishing that the Force will one day galvanise the consciousness? Is it a vain hope? But that’s how I console myself and find relief at present – never mind if I can’t do this or that, feel sleepy, vital is too lazy: let me slide on some day, some day... What do you say about this “some day”? But I suppose this attitude takes time to be fulfilled...

Well, it is an admirable exercise in faith! As for results, some day, one day, many days, no day – why bother? মা ফলেষু কদাচন60


April 23, 1936

[In the medical note-book:]

Please ask Mother to give blessings to this hopeless self.


Vin. Ashirv.

m. VII.

Recept. Chlor.

gr. XXV

Aqua jollity

ad lib.

Tinc. Faith

m. XV

Syr. Opt.


12 doses every hour.



April 24, 1936

What is the second item in your prescription, Sir? Too Latinic for my poor knowledge.

Chlorate of Receptivity.

And I would put Aqua at the end to make it an absolutely pucca academical prescription.

Yes, but I thought of the two last ingredients afterwards.

And 12 doses every hour – these tinctures and vinums?

12 doses – every hour (one each hour). Plagiarised from your language, sir.

And where is the cost to be supplied from?

Gratis – for the poor.

I have composed a sort of a poem:

“Once swayed unmeasured insolent hopes in my breast:

Melting like snows heaped upon Himalaya-crest

Songs of my glory would o’erflow land and sea

In tempestuous floods bursting the limits of Eternity...”

Too grandiloquent?

Yes. But, man alive, what is the metre? It seems to be neither pentametric fish, nor lyrical red herring. I have turned it into Alexandrines.

“Once swayed an insolent hope unmeasured in my breast:

That like bright snows high-heaped upon Himalay’s crest

Songs of my glory overflowing land and sea

Would break in deathless floods through long Eternity.”


April 25, 1936

In one of your letters you spoke of fictitious stresses. What is meant by them?

I meant simply stresses which are conventionally supposed to be there for the sake of the metre.

Can you not illustrate them in a poem? I am enclosing a carte blanche for the purpose.

What are you dreaming of, sir? A poem as an illustration of my bit of prosodic grammar? Inspiration would run away to Pelion and never return if I did such a shocking thing.

I am keeping your carte blanche but the odds are that it may be fitted to quite another purpose.


April 26, 1936

R. Reddy has fever and headache. Advised eau de cologne on the forehead. As soon as he had applied it, his eyelids swelled so much that the eyes closed. The nose began to water and rapid breathing started – almost an asthmatic attack. At 4.30 p.m. it came down.

Will not eau sédative (it has comphor) be suitable and replace these other things for the head? Eau de Cologne can easily upset one who is quite unaccustomed to alcoholic treatment.

What are the odds of the poem?

Stuck up in the clods of correspondence?

What poem?


April 27, 1936

Again “What poem?” strange, strange, very strange! Didn’t you receive a carte blanche from me day before yesterday? Perhaps you will ask “What carte blanche?” and I will utter – “Oh Fate! If guru is so forgetful, the shishya can be worse.”

And didn’t I tell you that it was an extravagant and unwarrantable idea to demand a poem for such a grammatical purpose and I kept the carte blanche that I might use it for other purposes? What’s this shishya who doesn’t read his guru’s objurgations however illegible?!

Somebody writing the biography of Confucius in Bengali says: “Why do the Dharmagurus marry, we can’t understand. Buddha did and his wife’s tale is হৃদয় বিদারক...”62

Why? What is there বিদারক in it?

He goes on: “Sri Aurobindo, though not Dharmaguru, has done it too, and can be called ধর্ম পাগল.”63 Well, Sir?

Well, it is better to be ধর্ম পাগল than to be a sententious ass and pronounce on what one does not understand.

“We feel so sad about his wife, so too about the wife of Confucius.”

Poor sorrowful fellows!

“It is the same about কং.64 He had even a son and two daughters.”

[Sri Aurobindo put a? above “কং.]

Who is this gentleman? Is it Wrong? Or is it Kong, by any chance?

“So we don’t understand why they marry and why this change comes soon after marriage.”

Perfectly natural – they marry before the change – then the change comes and the marriage belongs to the past self, not to the new one.

“The wives of Buddha and Ramakrishna felt proud when they were deserted.”

Then what’s the harm?

“If married life is an obstacle to spirituality, then they might as well not marry.”

No doubt. But then when they marry, there is not an omniscient ass like this biographer to tell them that they were going to be ধর্ম গুরু [dharma guru] or ধর্ম পাগল [dharma pāgal] or in any way concerned with any other ধর্ম [dharma] than the biographer’s.

So according to this biographer, all of you, except Christ, showed a lack of wisdom by marrying!

Well, if a biographer of Confucius can be such an unmitigated ass, Confucius may be allowed to be unwise once or twice, I suppose.

I touch upon a delicate subject, but it is a puzzle.

Why delicate? and why a puzzle? Do you think that Buddha or Confucius or myself were born with a prevision that they or I would take to the spiritual life? So long as one is in the ordinary consciousness, one lives the ordinary life – when the awakening and the new consciousness come, one leaves it – nothing puzzling in that.

B finds that the power of his glasses has to be increased. Shall I take him to the hospital? He will bear the cost of the glasses. But the power will go on increasing steadily.

Yes; you can get him examined and take the expert’s opinion. One can react against the necessity of increase.

What do you think of Bates’ system? Shall we try it for B?

No. Bates is successful when done “under” a Bates man or with a conscientious perseverence and intelligence, but it doesn’t succeed with many under other circumstances.


April 28, 1936

Manubhai has slight temperature, headache and pain in limbs. I gave him some purgative and he had 11 watery motions.

Why not enema? Purgative in fever is not always safe.

Should he go on with his work, or should he take rest?

He should rest.

It seems the Mother “rolled her eyes” at Venkataram’s sea bath. But you wrote back to him, “It is too small an incident.”

That is a polite way of putting it. I intimated to him that he was a silly ass to think Mother would get excited about his sea bath. But this silly assness is incorrigible in V. He is doing it all the time and weeping and raging over his imaginations.

He came and asked me what I had written to Mother about his sea bath, and what were Mother’s remarks. I told him I would not say anything.

No Sadhak has a right to cross-examine the doctor about his reports to the Mother. They must be treated as confidential.


April 29, 1936

I was called in at 1 p.m. by Bala, because of severe pain in the left arm. She was crying, squeezing her arm. It is a case of neuralgia... I thought, “What will the Force do, after all? she will have to suffer...” and just read what happened! I applied Liniment chloroform locally and gave a pill of aspirin. In about 15 minutes she fell asleep – had beautiful sleep till 3 p.m., when someone woke her up; and lo! the pain had gone! What do you think?

Refuse to think – lost the habit.

Do you know what my weight is? Only 51 kg – 112 lbs – 8 st. I was staggered to find it so low, wondered how I was walking about!

Quite a respectable weight. I used in the nineteenth century to walk about with less than 100 – found no difficulty.

Here is a letter from Mulshankar in answer to my question enumerating the troubles of his leg. What do you say to it as a doctor and especially to the behaviour of the two bones? Kindly return the document along with your remarks.


May 1, 1936

I thought as much, Sir, that you would quote your own instance as regards the weight. Exercise, swimming in the sea to no avail!

Good Lord, man! I always thought exercise decreased the fat and gave strength and muscle. And you want to increase your fat by exercise?

I have no peace now, the whole day passes in lamentation. No use dilating on it, as it has been before and will be after.

We weep before and after.

Our sweetest hours are those we fill with saddest thought.

I thought a little good time had come a few days back, but that little streak, if it was not my imagination, has been swallowed up by dark and unending trails of clouds from which I see no escape...

All right, sir. If you feel ready for force, I will send you. As for the results, well, let us see.

An absolute blank, a perpetual vegetative unrest – a Nirvana!

Gracious heavens! you have reached Nirvana so easily! But how can unrest be Nirvana? Some misconception. Perhaps it is Prakritilaya65 you are aiming at! Perhaps you are moving towards a repetition of Jada Bharat66 and when you are sufficiently jada and able to enjoy it, then Nirvana and all the Knowledge will come to you.

Examined Mulshankar. Most of the trouble is in the abduction of the hip joint...

Abduction of a joint, sir? What’s this flagrant immorality? What happens to the joint when it is abducted?

Soon he will be able to do the normal movements. There is benumbing of his feet as well as a tingling sensation.

And what about the two colliding bones? Part of the abduction?

However I will take him soon to Philaire.

Right. Abduct him to Philaire.


May 2, 1936

If I feel ready for the force? It is not a question of feeling now, but of forcing the Force. That apart as you said, “If you wait for things to happen, there is no reason why they should happen at all”, has shattered all my imagination, illusion, fancy, speculation about the Force and the Grace.

You deal too much in paradoxes and contradictory statements, for my little brain to understand. You say, “within there is a soul and above there is Grace.” Is it not contrary to the foregoing one?

I don’t see how it is contrary. Naturally the soul and the Grace are the two ends, but that does not mean that there is to be nothing between. You seem to have interpreted the sentence “There is a dawdling soul within and a sleeping Grace above. When the Grace awakes, the soul will no more dawdle, because it will be abducted.” Of course, it can happen like that, but, as I put it, there is no reason why it should. Generally the soul wakes up, rubs its eyes and says “Hallo, where’s that Grace?” and begins fumbling around for it and pulling at things in the hope that Grace is at the other end of the said things. Finally it pulls at something by accident and the Grace comes toppling down full tilt from God knows where. That’s the usual style – but there are others.

However, I will try something tonight and listen with rapt attention to the silent steps of your Force coming, but we find you have put “all Force available at Dilipda’s disposal”!

Perhaps I meant all force available for Dilip!

I know exercise reduces the fat, but combined with butter and cream, it increases, I think. And that is what I am doing now, at Dilipda’s. Any objection to gratis supply of butter and cream?

I suppose not, so long as you do not constitute a Municipal Corporation.

Complaint against the Ashram doctor from the D.R. servers. “Often after we have served his dish, he would send a note saying «My meals, please!» or a verbal message through any sadhak he might come across..67 Carrier bearers68 have to inform Dayabhai that the tiffin-box in question has to be brought back” etc., etc.

It is suggested that the said Doctor can have his food all the three times in the day in a tiffin-box if he so desires.

Doctor! doctor!

If you are so irregular and offhand how can you expect patients in the hospital to submit to have their bad eyes cut out instead of their good kidneys?


May 3, 1936

I admit that their complaint is partly true! I explained the situation to Jiban this morning. So if you have no objection I can have the meals sent home. Or if you want, I shall have all the meals strictly in D.R.

It is not possible for them to send in the cart, because there is no room there. You will either have to send the servant or adopt the coming to the D.R.

Very strange, Sir, to connect this affair with my luck in hospital! I don’t see the logic at all, unless you are trying to harass me as advocates do in courts!

It is a matter of the forces of Karma. If you are loose and irregular, then things and patients will be the same with you. Don’t you know that all “bad luck”, as you call it, is due to Karma?

Last night I tried to compose a poem. It was a failure, I fell asleep over its first two lines!

You call it a failure – when you have discovered a new soporific.

Couldn’t touch K without making her burst into tears. These ladies think what heartless brutes, animals, these doctors are!

Much safer than if they think “What dears these doctors are, darlings, angels!”


May 4, 1936

Today D and I had a discussion on women. D said that by nature Indian women are very attached and devoted.

By habit and education, not by nature, except with a minority.

Whereas men, by nature, are quite the opposite.

What rash generalisations!

Look at K. How much the poor lady suffers for her attachment to her husband. But no way out.

For her sex-hysteria, sir! Note that when she is not suffering, as you say, she is offered the chance to go with him and she shouts quite as much as under the doctor’s touch “I don’t want! What do you mean? I never asked to go.”

Why is there this difference between man and woman? Why is man made more polygamous? why do his attachment, love, desire, fleet from one object to another, whereas woman’s nature is more one-pointed, devoted to one?

To one at a time perhaps, at least with the majority. There are plenty who are polyandrous by nature.

Why are we made up of so many contradictory elements: one aspect has aspiration towards Him, religion, morality, aesthetic qualities; the other, a tremendous pull towards baser elements, especially sex?

It takes many ingredients to make a nice pudding.

Is it that the path to the Divine can’t be made easy on account of the danger of a democratic aspiration which will thunder at God in his own citadel?

Perhaps it is to prevent the world from coming to a sudden end by a universal rush into beatitude.

Or is it for the preservation of the species?

The sex started as a preservation of species. Man has made a hotch-potch of what was in its origin simple in motive.


May 5, 1936

The surgeon Philaire advises sea-bath for Mulshankar, but no swimming. All violent stretching must be avoided.

He can have sea-bath provided (1) he does not go alone, (2) does not swim, (3) does not go out far.


May 6, 1936

As for Mulshankar’s sea-bath, the first condition is difficult to satisfy.

Dasaratha offers to accompany him. Impress upon D that he must not let M swim or go out too far.

Yesterday you said that Sarala agreed to go to the Hospital, but she resented it very much and wrote to the Mother about it. You had better take her to the Ost. (house).


May 8, 1936

B.P.’s right eye seems to be on the way to keratitis. I understand that his well water is very dirty. It is not good for his eyes...

[No reply.]


May 9, 1936

By the way, about his well, Mother had given the order to clean it some weeks ago. Has it not been done?

The condition of his left eye is not worse.

If your oculist could master the left eye, why on earth is he helpless with the right one? Keratitis + conjunctivitis not curable?


May 10, 1936

I asked Amrita about the well and Chandulal was also present. They say it has not been done as far as they know.

And it was Amrita who was told to do it! Anyhow it has to be done.

In B.P.’s case, keratitis and conjunctivitis are curable, though not all cases of keratitis.

I am thinking of handing the gentleman over to R. I did not want to do it while R was busy with several incurable cases (one including a doomed T.B., another equally hopeless of something else; both declared incurable by doctors of Europe and India after an expenditure of 30,000 Rs). But after a fierce struggle, there has been a sweeping triumph in all cases, the “hat-trick” as R terms it, care being only needed to keep the conquest. So that objection no longer exists. What do you say?


May 11, 1936

An excellent opportunity seems to have come for an amicable settlement with D over J’s novel-tangle. Shall we take advantage of it? But we are dealing with gunpowder, so it is better to consult you.

Well, Abyssinia is blown up. So why not an Ashram?

What about Nishikanta’s vision-poem? Lost in the subconscient? and his book of poems?

To be fished out.

I think we can sue you in the Supramental Court of Justice for this flagrant neglect!

No jurisdiction.

When will you send the poem with the explanation of the vision?

Shall send back the poem. Vision doubtful (I mean the explanation of it accompanying the poem).

Fact is, I am trying to get some damned thing done – have a chance of success if I keep at it – so can’t afford to turn aside to anything else. Just check off in a hurry the daily things, but as for arrears!

What do I say about B.P.? What else can I say but thoroughly agree with you, second you and third you?

Very good. Send him to R. I should like you also to give the history of the case to R. I think B.P. will be more easily interrogated if that is done.

But will he take the whole responsibility or divide it?

No division possible with R. His treatment is an indivisible Brahman, however many the aspects. In his latest cases there was a mass of simultaneous illnesses in each body, but he took them all in his sweep.


May 12, 1936

R.B.’s pain in the abdomen is less. I hear her eyes are “watering”! Advised to join work instead of lying in bed.

Good. The woman is extremely lazy, and physical immobility will not improve her health.

Another song-poem by J. This again, D finds good, but he says it lacks “distinctiveness”. I can’t really understand what he means by it. Do you? If you do, will you explain?

Don’t know quite. I believe I wrote to him on J’s last poem that some of the lines seemed less distinctive than others which seemed to me to be very good. I meant they were ordinary lines without character which anybody could write. Perhaps he means that. In this poem, it seems to me the first stanza is very good, the second is – well “less distinctive”. I suppose D’s point is that J’s expression of her poetic ideas is still somewhat derivative, there is not that personal stamp which goes with a matured and developed poetic individuality or one that is, even if immature, yet itself from the first. But this is for your information, need not discourage J by communicating it.


May 13, 1936

By the way, what are R’s stakes regarding B.P.? I knew he must have gone at us, allopaths. But how does he view it?

His views are rather ominous and menacing.

He has grumbled about the mercury (and bismuth?) and says he has to antidote the former. He wants to diagnose everything as the result of hereditary results of gonorrhea (his pet disease,) not syphilis contracted personally, alleging all sorts of reasons such as B.P.’s confirmed aneurism etc. However it is the cure that is important, not the diagnosis. He is not positive about success as he was in all his other (outside) cases; wants to have B.P. in the next room to him under night and day observation etc. – thinks that if certain things happen he may pop off at any moment, so wants to be prepared for all emergencies.


May 14, 1936

J has written a poem in laghu guru69 about whose rhythm there is some doubt. I place before you the scansion as I understand it, for your opinion. The words and substance seem very beautiful; if the rhythm were so, it would make a lovely and “distinctive poem”, I think. So?

I am unable to pronounce on such a matter – I do not really know what is or is not permissible in Bengali laghu guru. To an uninstructed mind your observations seem to be just.

So R throws overboard all medical science by refusing to recognise the validity of blood-tests in syphilis etc.?

He claims to have a homeopathic science of his own!

Heredity main factor? and the history of a contraction, chancre, + + blood reaction, all to waste-paper basket? And yet if he cures him, I am to believe in the paramount efficacy of his homeopathic medicines?

Not asked to believe. Provided they are effective, and in all these other bad cases they have been, it is all right. R affirmed gonorrhoeic origin there also, but he cured the cases all right, which shows that either his diagnoses were right or, in spite of wrong diagnoses, he can cure incurable cases. I don’t see how logically one can escape from this horned dilemma! Anyhow his medicines do have a powerful and very often immediate effect, that I have seen hundreds of times. Scientifically they ought not to, but they have. Curiously enough, in Europe, for certain diseases now even many of the allopaths are beginning to prefer homeopathic method and medicine.

However, I won’t quarrel. But how do you segregate the fellow in that house? not necessary, it not being syphilis?

I don’t know. Mother is not in favour of it, but R insists that his day and night under observation is necessary! However, we shall probably refuse the continuation.


May 15, 1936

By the way, the dilemma you speak of can be solved in one way: his diagnosis is not always infallible, but he cures cases and his medicines are effective because homeopaths go more by symptoms, diagnosis occupying a minor place.

That only amounts to one horn of the dilemma – viz. that he can cure “incurable” cases even on a wrong diagnosis. We get no farther.

That’s why I rely too little on his diagnosis. But as you say, his medicines are very effective. I am watching with great interest and a little anxiety too, how successful he will prove himself in these special cases.

We don’t feel that B.P.’s eye disease has nothing or little to do with his syphilis, we think it is a direct result of it and what is behind is much more serious than what appears on the surface. Mother found no improvement by the oculist’s treatment. On the contrary she was telling me recently almost every second day that B.P. seemed to be in a horrible condition and getting worse and for some time she had an impression of approaching danger. It was why I handed over the case to R – with some reluctance – although I had promised him a rest after his big cases were over. We said nothing to R except that it was a syphilis case and he could get all the facts from you. But his immediate conclusion was the same, that it was a more horrible condition and was becoming dangerous. He is especially afraid of the danger of inflammation going up into the brain – he said it was travelling in that direction – and in that case he said the man may go off in 5 minutes. I knew that syphilis cases often end suddenly in that way, but did not think it could happen with gonorrhea – as he says he thinks it is in origin gonorrhoeic. He says it doesn’t usually, but under certain circumstances it may develop consequences that lead to that. He refused to promise a cure as he did at once in the tuberculosis and other cases even when they were at their worst. Today he has ordered B.P. to bed, made a temporary installation for himself there and wants to fight the case with what he calls vital medicines. I have seen that these sometimes sweep the body free of virulent disease in 24 hours or perhaps 3 days in a breath-taking manner. But here he was not at all sure of the result – there has been an amelioration decided but not decisive. We have to wait.

All this quite confidential. As for eye medicines he has them; his other cases had some of them eye affections as a result of the general illness, but he used, I think, only mild medicines there as they were quite effective.


May 16, 1936

It seemed to me at Pranam that Mother doesn’t like me poking my nose into B.P.’s affair after the case has been handed over to R. If so, after these points you have raised, I will stop.

I did not mention what you wrote on this point to the Mother as there was no time in the morning – everything being in a hurry – so your “seemed to me” was an error. I was only putting R’s point of view and stating the Mother’s impression about B.P.’s condition – Naturally so long as R is in charge, he must be left to his own methods.

... The day I sent him off to R, he was better, he said – the right eye decidedly so. His condition was bad enough, but I didn’t take it as worse than N.P.’s iritis.

To me he was lamenting to the contrary. But it is not on that that Mother based her observation. His letters are in Hindi and I do not translate them to her.

As it was, I didn’t really look at it as a “horrible condition and getting worse”, because it was keratitis.

It seemed so to the Mother, not eyes only but his whole disintegrated condition.

I don’t agree with R that B.P.’s eye-condition was going up to the brain – no such case has been heard of where the condition has travelled from the eye to the brain.

He was not speaking of the eyes’ condition going up to the brain, but of the inflammation which he said was moving upward.

What can at worst happen is iritis or iridocyclitis, resulting in blindness of one or both the eyes. But I don’t know that it results in brain complications and death in 5 minutes! I guess from the nature of the severe pain in the head and over the eyes, that iritis, iridocyclitis or even glaucoma may have set in and R is taking this for the beginning of brain complication. Syphilitic cases do end suddenly, but that is due to systemic involvement, not as a result of eye complication. Gonorrhoea almost never.

R says that they are cases of hereditary gonorrhoeic complaints not manifesting in the ordinary way which can develop under certain conditions of which he spoke as complications leading to death in this way and he says there have been many cases. Gonorrhoea by itself is obnoxious but not dangerous. That is his theory which he asserts to be founded on his experience.

I can send you the whole book on eye diseases. You will nowhere find a single instance where brain complication has set in due to eye trouble. I am absolutely positive about his not dying.

The difference lies in this that R did not take it as a case of ordinary eye trouble, but believed there was an infection of the system which could manifest at different points.

But loss of sight will be a consequence, if he doesn’t improve.

There R agrees.

I hear there is slight improvement. So far so good.

All that however is by the way – not much use, either, I suppose.

By the way, when Mother made all these observations about B.P., why didn’t you tell us, so that we could be more careful?

When Mother has handed over the case to a doctor (not of the Ashram), she never interferes, so long as it is in his charge. It would be ridiculous to do so. She can have no control or influence or weight with him. He is bound by his science and his ideas of treatment, and could not possibly understand much less appreciate her point of view.


May 17, 1936

I send you a letter of our dear Chand. If you are still interested in the chap, you can take the trouble to decipher it.

I have had several letters from him.

He wants to know many things:

1) Descent of the Supra. M. Tail – on the slightest news of which he will give a gorilla jump to Pondy to set his nerves right! Is the Tail in view?

Of course. Coming down as fast as you fellows will allow.

2) He wants your remarks on him which will prove “precious”!

Tell him I have grown chary of remarks. Remarks frighten the Sm. T.

Can any letters and poems be sent, though I know he will hardly read them?

What letters? The poems are your own and co’s, so you are the best judge of that.

Lastly, will Mother give him a flower tomorrow, through Nolini?

You can make a petition to Nolini to get the flower.

The fellow is still dreaming of the Sup. M. Tail! He doesn’t realise yet that many of us will see it after our souls have departed into the subtle planes and will have taken birth again in proper circumstances and conditions – and now one after another, so many are dropping, dropping after so many years of stay – viz. M-lal! Next X-lal, Y-lal, then Nirodlal!

Excuse me. M-lal and Company are not running away from the Sm. Tail – they are only running after the paternal tail – as soon as they have stroked it sufficiently, they will return. All the Lais have gone like Japhet in search of their fathers and will return in June, except M who comes back, I believe, after 15 days. Two others asked for filial leave – one is perhaps still thinking of running after P.T. But we are beginning to kick. One “leave” has been refused!

R.B. is still constipated. Had a whole ounce of castor-oil, with no result... Too much medication? No help, as she is crying and cursing me!

Rather a lot – esp. if purgatives are ineffective. But –

Mahendranath telegraphed about his mother – appendix affected fall – couldn’t understand, asked for exact nature of illness, got this telegram in reply. Kindly perorate.


May 19, 1936

I don’t really understand these paternal and filial loves. M-lal – a fellow who has been here for 7 or 8 years and doing Yoga, runs after such a thing as a paternal tail!

He says he has been attached to the paternal tail ever since he came here and he felt quite outraged when Mother hinted rather sharply that it was absurd to run after it.

K-lal, after 3 years stay, goes out for the marriage of a niece.

Ridiculous! Absolutely unthinkable! Who are these paters and maters and what’s their place in your Yoga of surrender?

Quite agree with you. Hear! hear!

I think we have to look for the seat of the trouble somewhere else. Either your Yoga is extremely difficult or a sort of resistance manifests itself in this ridiculous way. A pressure which they are unable to bear compels them to escape it by running away to stroke somebody’s tail. Isn’t that so?

If it is so, why should they want to come back to the pressure? They are very careful about that. “Must have an assurance that all my work will be given back to me when I return.” – (M-lal). “Want support while I am here. Will be back in June. (i.e. don’t let any idea get into you that you have seen the last of me).” K – So on and so on.

In my idea it is simply the subconscient and sheepishness. Sheep always do what one sheep has started. K-lal started father business (it was not merely marriage) immediately 5 others sent in filial applications one after another. Subconscient in the sense that primal instincts and irrational difficulties or habitual ones are surging up, surging up, surging up.

Since you have to deal with general nature in this collective Yoga, one’s difficulty is thrown on the other – one is dragged behind by another.

To some extent, it may be so – but the root difficulty is not there.

I can call these departures failures and nothing else.

Can’t pronounce. Failure is only when they go off for good.

It is, as I say, an escape from the atmosphere of pressure! Are you beginning to kick? But how long will you go on doing so, Sir?

No need to go on – The sheep movement is stopped so far as fathers are concerned. Two half-kicks and one whole one were sufficient.

I sometimes wonder if anyone here is attaining anything at all; has anybody realised the Divine? Please don’t ask me what I mean by the Divine. It is difficult to explain these things.

Why shouldn’t I ask? If you mean the Vedantic realisation, several have had it. Bhakti realisation also. If I were to publish the letters on sadhana experiences that have come to me, people would marvel and think that the Ashram was packed full of great Yogis! Those who know something about Yoga would not mind about the dark periods, eclipses, hostile attacks, despairings, falls, for they know that these things happen to Yogis. Even the failures would have become Gurus, if I had allowed it, with circles of Shishyas! B did become one. Z of course. But all that does not count here, because what is a full realisation outside, is here only a faint beginning of siddhi. Here the test is transformation of the nature, psychic, spiritual, finally supramental. That and nothing else is what makes it so difficult.

X was lamenting that he has been 8 years here, yet no peace, at times only joy and that also joy of literary creation. These are his words: “But I haven’t come here for that – it was available to me outside, plenty of it. If I complain, Sri Aurobindo says, «Write, write, write». But, merciful heavens! What do I profit by writing? Through music, I feel a sense of offering and can think of it as work done as an offering to the Divine.”

8 years? Amateur Yogis! Those who know something about Yoga would count 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 years as nothing for the preliminary work of preparation and self-purification. That was X’s bane – He expected to conquer Heaven in a gallop, but there was only one way of doing it, complete abdication of self, and that he refused and probably could not do. Then when the gallop could not succeed, he has been wrestling and groaning ever since – meditation, jap, prayer with only one idea “When is it coming? when is it coming? Why is it not coming? why is it not coming? Of course, it won’t come. It will never come, never, never.” And of course it doesn’t – that is not the way.

Yet he had promised me he would drop all that and go on quietly getting rid of ego etc. till he was fit. The subconscient has been too strong with its unvarying orbits of repetition of the same obstinately irrational movement.

But poetry, he says, is অযুক্ত কর্ম.70 If that could give the Divine realisation, any number of literary people would have it. So what’s the use of that? “No experience, no realisation, can’t even meditate. How can I surrender when I am so much absorbed in writing?...”

That is like him and most of the sadhaks. All hold grimly to their own ideas – follow their own conceptions about Yoga. Reasonings! logic! As for the ways pointed out by the Guru, all supramental nonsense. The surprising thing is that anyone succeeds here.

You seem to have again changed your front. Once you wrote that the Supramental descent may not depend on the condition of the sadhaks, and now you speak of the Supramental coming as fast as we will allow.

You have mistaken the sense altogether. It simply means if with the bother of your revolts, depressions, illnesses, shouts, quarrels and all the rest of it, I can get time to go on rapidly. Nothing more, sir.

If we fellows have to allow, you had better close down the shop and enjoy your impersonal supramental beatitude!

I am quite ready. I propose that you call a meeting and put it to the vote. “That hereby we resolve to release Sri Aurobindo into beatitude and all go off quietly to Abyssinia.”


May 20, 1936

K has been having pain in the abdomen since she came here. It starts after an hour of sleep. She thinks it has something to do with her non-use of mattress.

Why doesn’t she ask for a mattress from Amrita?

But she is very constipated. Bowels moved after 2 or 3 days.

Evidently the constipation must be responsible – if it is habitual.


May 21, 1936

I tried hard to write a poem but failed in spite of prayer and call. Then I had to appeal to your Force; lo, the poem was recast and recreated, beginning at 9.45 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m. Now the big question is – why couldn’t I do it before? By the appeal and your Force, undoubtedly, which you sent. But it was almost finished before you had time to read my letter and send the Force.

I usually read your soul-stirring communications (medical or other) at 7.30 or 8 or thereabouts. This one I must have got only after 10 p.m. But that makes no difference. The call for the Force is very often sufficient; not absolutely necessary that it should reach my physical mind first. Many get as soon as they write – or, (if they are outside), when the letter reaches the atmosphere.

Simply the writing has helped to establish the contact with the Force, whereas my constant concentration, prayer and appeal failed?

Yes, it is the success in establishing the contact that is important. It is a sort of hitching on or getting hold of the invisible button or whatever you like to call it.

Sometimes the Force “that is always operating” is not enough for me. You have to leave all relaxed repose and sit up and regain curvilinear proportions and send a dose! This is what must have happened today.

It is enough if you hitch on to the operating Force which is always rotating or hanging about over your head or over my head or over the general head of the Ashram or the (terrestrial) universe. It does not much matter where you hitch on, so long as you somehow do it. But in this case there may have been some connection with my curvilinear recovery which took place somewhere about 9.30. But if so, it can only have been because the Force rotated more forcibly by the impulsion of my recovery, for the conscious sending of Force to you took place only when I was reading the letter.

When you send the Force, is there a time limit for its functioning or does it work itself out in the long run or get washed off after a while, finding the adhar unreceptive?

There is no time limit. I have known cases in which I put a Force for getting a thing done and it seemed to fail damnably at the moment; but after two years everything carried itself out in exact detail and order just as I had arranged it, although I was thinking no more at all of the matter. You ought to know but I suppose you don’t that “Psychic” Research in Europe has proved that all so-called “psychic” communications can sink into the consciousness without being noticed and turn up long afterwards. It is like that with the communication of Force also.

I would like to know the Force’s general operation in illnesses, yogic purposes, etc., ...It is really very interesting, and nothing written anywhere on it. Can you illumine? No hurry, but if you write “one day”, I know that phrase very well.

I have made as usual a few scattered observations – but of course they don’t go very far or shed much light. “One day” perhaps I shall write volumes on the matter which I suppose you won’t read.

I was almost on the point of losing faith in Yogic Force and asked myself: if I had as earnestly applied myself to poetry, outside, wouldn’t I have succeeded?

You would have become a talented literary young man and a good verse-maker.

Lastly, don’t fall flat again, Sir. So much depends on your curvilinear position, especially when you are bringing down the Supramental Tail!

Now look here, do you think I fell flat on purpose? No, sir. Sudden rush of correspondence, interruption of campaign – consequent breakdown of road to Addis Ababa; retreat necessary, consolidation of back positions, road-repair – flat, but I suppose necessary.

I thought R.B. was cured, for she hasn’t come back for her leg treatment. Shall I call her back and treat her?

Don’t know. She says you have tried your level best and failed. Perhaps if her leg hurts enough, she will come back or if she complains too much I shall suggest her the way back.

Your book crowded out by a long night’s correspondence. Send again tonight. Also am unable to return to Dilip Nishikanta’s long poem for the same reason.


May 22, 1936

K had pain at noon, then again in the morning – but nothing at night.

Then it is not the absence of a mattress!


May 23, 1936

Getting depressed, discouraged – thinking of giving up the blessed business of writing poetry! Binapani71 has no compassion towards me.

Nonsense! She has plenty – at times.

Will try again, if no result, will absolutely fall flat. Can’t blame me, I think you have no time to send any Force!

Had no force to send – at least none that I considered worth sending. Fell flat myself for the last two or three days – as flat as I could manage to at this stage. Am recovering curvilinear proportions and shall try to send something along.

No medical cases today.

Hello! Golden Age come or what? No – for R.B.’s pain is kicking cheerfully again. It is telling her, “Your Nirod’s potions and things indeed! I just went because I took the fancy. I go when I like, I come when I like. Doctors – pooh!”


May 27, 1936

I find it rather hard to be a medium between X and J. For instance X wants to use যামিনী72 or anything in place of ঊষশী,73 but J wants to keep it.

How can “anything” be used in a poem? A slight change makes all the difference between something forceful and a mere literary expression that misses its mark.

I feel this difference hurts X, however much he may try to be calm, and I have to convey these differences.

But why must everyone accept X’s suggestions or their preference for their own ideas irritate him?

I would be happy if they could do these things direct between themselves.

Doing direct means a flare up and quarrel. You are suffering for the good of the community.

J has written in a poem:

ছন্দি অযুত তারা

ঝলি হীরক ঢালে

নত আপন হারা

[chandi ayut tārā

jhali hīrak ḍhāle

nat āpan hārā]74

X says: “How can stars be bent?” So he changed it to ধ্রুব দীপন ধারা75 whereas J declared that she wrote it because she experienced one night as if the stars were really bending down. I also found the expression very fine.

ধ্রুব দীপন ধারা is no doubt good poetry and very good poetry but it is a purely external image and gives no subjective vibration, while J’s line does. The objection that stars do not get নত76 stands only if the poem describes objective phenomena or aims at using purely objective images. But if the vision behind the poem is subjective, the objection holds no longer. The mystic subjective vision admits a consciousness in physical things and gives them a subtle physical life which is not that of the material existence. If a consciousness is felt in the stars and if that consciousness expresses itself in subtle physical images to the vision of the poet, there can be no impossibility of a star being নত আপন হারা77 – such expressions attribute a mystical life to the stars and can appropriately express this in mystic images. I agree with you about the fineness of the line.

X says: “This may not be an experience at all, and who knows if it is not an imagination, and how are we to say which is which?”

But is it necessary to say which is which? It is not possible to deny that it was an experience, even if one cannot affirm it – not being in the consciousness of the writer. But even if it is an imagination, it is a powerful poetic imagination which expresses what would be the exact feeling in the real experience. It seems to me that that is quite enough. There are so many things in Wordsworth and Shelley which people say were only mental feelings and imaginations and yet they express the deeper seeings or feelings of the seer. For poetry it seems to me the point is irrelevant.

X argues, “E said many things that she used to imagine. She herself considered them experiences.”

How do you know that E’s sayings are only imaginations? If so, they are very remarkable imaginations for a child of that age. They might be the communications of her inner being to her mind which she was to express in. A few children have that in a degree; in some it takes the form of imagination – E had it in a very unusual degree. I hope the elders will not knock this rare gift out of her by their misunderstanding and want of sympathy.

All this highly confidential if you please. I don’t want to rub X the wrong way just now as his nerves are in a rather raw state and if he gets upset it means a lot of unnecessary work for me.

I think that anyone who has had some insight into these occult worlds, can no longer stand on absolute rationalism... Qu’en dites-vous? Stars can be humble?

I have answered that.

I hear Mother has vetoed J’s poem being dedicated to her. X says it has already been done. “Is Mother’s name to be taken out?” he asks.

It was more an objection than a veto – and not to. the dedication but to the emphasising of it by the poems. X says he has given the order to print and it is not worth while upsetting that now. Let it stand.

I am merely repeating the words “impurity, desire, despair”, in my poetry.

Well, everybody repeats himself. A time will come when this trinity will disappear, let us hope.

Did you seriously write that I would have been “a talented young man” [21.5.36]? I find no talent anywhere.

Well, you thought outside you would have made the same progress. I simply expressed my doubts whether your utmost efforts would have carried you beyond literary talent.

You have so abruptly stopped writing about the Yogic Force.

I didn’t stop because I didn’t begin. I wrote some scattered answers only and intimated to you that volumes might come out in future (not in these notes) which you would probably not read.

K doesn’t come any more. Is she another kicker like R.B.?

Am without news of her.


May 28, 1936

It seems the “unnecessary work” has become necessary now – I mean X has given again an ultimatum of a short trip.

It is the second time in a few days.

Just because Dhurjati has highly praised somebody’s trash poetry, X got upset, and said – “Oh, I am very hurt, very hurt.”

Everything now makes him very hurt. If he goes on like that he will soon be an incarnation of the Man of Sorrows.

I don’t understand when he says that he hasn’t felt any peace in seven years. “All I had is 24 hours of intense Ananda – no other experience...” he says.

You needn’t take X’s rhetorical statements “at the foot of the letter”, as the French say. He did get peace often, but he said it was nothing concrete or spiritual, only ordinary peace. Also he did not want peace but bhakti. He got some experiences, even sometimes a descent as the result of which his inner being showed itself and wept profusely. But he did not think much of his experiences – not what he wanted. He got bhakti sometimes – but afterwards said he had no bhakti. So on with all the rest. Naturally under such conditions there could be no permanent opening and no steady progress.

But is it really impossible for you to give him some experience of peace, silence or meditation? Then the Divine is not at all omnipotent...

My dear sir, what has the omnipotence of the Divine to do with it? In this world there are conditions for everything – if a man refuses to fulfil the conditions for Yoga, what is the use of appealing to the Divine’s omnipotence? He does not believe that the Divine is here. He regards us as Gurus. Yes, but he begins by disputing all my way of Yoga. He does not understand and does not care to understand my processes. He has ideas of his own, does not want peace or equality or surrender or anything else, wants only Krishna and bhakti. He has read things in Ramakrishna and elsewhere as to how to do it, insists on following that. Rejects all suggestions I can make as unpracticable. Erects a sadhana of violent meditation, japa, prayer – for these are the traditional things, has no idea that there are conditions without which they cannot be effective. Meditates, japs, prays himself into fits78 of dullness and disappears.79Also tries in spite of my objections a wrestling tapasya which puts his vital into revolt. Then by a stroke of good luck I succeed unexpectedly in making a sort of psychic opening. Decides to try surrender, purification of the heart, rejection of ego, true humility etc. – tries a little of it and is really progressing. After two months finds that Krishna is not appearing – gets disgusted and drops the beastly thing. And after all that he is always telling me “What an impotent Guru you are! You are evidently able to do nothing for me.” Evidently! That’s X.

Please give some Force for a “laghu guru” poem, if possible.

Will try – atmosphere not favourable with all the rows that are going on.


May 29, 1936

Happily the storm is over – and X says he won’t go. But do you think we made matters worse by arguing with him?

He seems to have appreciated your and Saurin’s kindness, – so that is all right.



In the early thirties Nirodbaran joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry after returning from England as a qualified doctor. He came to the Ashram with the intention of practising Yoga, and here he found to his surprise that poetry was one of the vocations taken up by some disciples as means of sadhana. Sri Aurobindo was giving inspiration to them and taking active interest in their writings. Nirodbaran, too, indulged in his “eccentric innovations” without knowing anything about English metrical forms. Beginning in a mystic-surrealistic vein, the poems progressed towards “Overhead Poetry” for it was Sri Aurobindo who guided the poet to perfection in his work. Some of the outstanding publications of Nirodbaran are Talks with Sri Aurobindo, Vols. I, II, III; Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Vols I and II; Sri Aurobindo’s Humour; Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo; Memorable Contacts with the Mother; Sun-Blossoms; Fifty Poems with Corrections and Comments by Sri Aurobindo; and some works in Bengali.


1 An Ashram cat.


2 āṃb


3 ām


4 A Rishi notorious for his anger.


5 Bravo, well done!


6 Literally “five mouths”, meaning full of praise.


7 Fried potato.


8 bhoga: enjoyment.


9 In italic are two Sanskrit formulas – “He am I” and “That art Thou” – with “O Nirod” tagged to the latter. The Bengali is Swami Vivekananda’s dictum: īśvara kona veṭā, āmii īśvara, “Who is this person Ishwara – I am Ishwara.”


10 Chosen deity.


11 Supreme or universal form.


12 Terrible tusks.


13 Replies that I was not supposed to show to other Ashramites, were enclosed by Sri Aurobindo in square brackets.


14 A Search in Secret India, p. 157.


15 ibid., pp. 157-158.


16 ibid., p. 158.


17 manuṣara hāsikānnā, Man’s laughter and tears.


18 ibid., p. 156.


19 Physical exercise.


20 Original in Bengali.


21 Sri Aurobindo


22 The scansion was done by Sri Aurobindo.


23 avacetanāya brahmane namo namah.


24 Note: Sri Aurobindo’s whole estimate of Eliot is naturally not summed up in a remark made in 1936. Although this remark touches on a point which he evidently thought important in relation to Eliot, he could say about some passages read out to him at a later date: “This is poetry.” About some others he said, “The substance is good but there’s no poetry.” He also appreciated certain pieces of criticism by Eliot, apropos of which he remarked that Eliot was better as a critic than as a poet.


25 An Ashram servant.


26 Bow down to Dilip.


27 Building Service.


28 nirarthak, Meaningless.


29 sārthak, Meaningful.


30 dolā: swing.


31 sādare adyāpi ye daradī raila biṣāda sāthī. With affection, to one who has till now remained my companion in melancholy.


32 sāthī. companion.


33 rājhaṃsa – swan.


34 See below – the following letter.


35 taba nṛtye ṇrakaṭi śihare janma labhila urbaśī. By one single quiver of your dance Urvasi was born...


36 bāsanāmatta mātase tumi śānta karile. You pacified the elephant maddened by desire...


37 matta mātase. Mad elephant.


38 hāy hāy: alas. alas.


39 Waste-paper basket.


40 I lived in the Dispensary nearly opposite Sri Aurobindo’s room.


41 ye yathā mām prapadyante: As people approach me (so I accept them). (Gita, IV. 11)


42 Although the notebook was sent back, Sri Aurobindo could not read his own handwriting. Hence his recourse to “memory”.


43 The date of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondicherry in 1910.


44 “One Moment”, Sun-Blossoms, p. 23.


45 gurupādapadmāya namo namaḥ: Salutations to the lotus foot of the Master.


46 ṣrīcaraṇeṣu: At the revered feet (plural, not dual).


47 palāyanamapi: even running away.


48 A Search in Secret India, p. 230.


49 ibid., p. 243.


50 ibid., p. 244.


51 ibid., p. 244.


52 ibid., pp. 244-245


53 ibid., p. 245


54 tat. That, the Absolute, pronounced “tut”.


55 om tat sat: Om That which Is.


56 A place known for its lunatic asylum.


57 Mayor of Pondicherry.


58 A confidential letter on Sri Aurobindo’s role in politics.


59 svadharme nidhaṃ śreyaḥ paradharmo bhayāvahaḥ: “Death in one’s own law of being is better; perilous it is to follow an alien law of being.” (Gita, III.35)


60 mā phaleṣu kadācana: (Thou hast a right to action), never to the fruits thereof. (Gita 11.47)


61 Signed in an almost illegible hand (perhaps in imitation of the doctors).


62 hṛday vidārak: heart-rending.


63 dharma pāgal: mad about religion


64 Con: short for Confucius.


65 Absorption in Nature (Prakriti), rather than Brahman.


66 A great sage who, after falling from the Path in an earlier life, was determined not to be stayed by any obstacle this time. In order to dissociate himself from the company of others, he behaved like an imbecile or one insensate and behind this mask successfully attained to Self-realisation. Jada means inert, dull or insensate.


67 Nothing deleted.


68 Doubtful reading.


69 A Sanskrit metre of long and short syllables.


70 ayukta karma: work not in consonance with yogic sadhana.


71 An epithet of Saraswati.


72 yāminī: night


73 ūṣaśī: dawn.


74 Millions of stars are swaying in rhythm

And, sparkling, pour their diamonds:

They are bent downward in self-oblivious ecstasy.


75 dhrub dīpan dhārā. In a steadfast stream of illumination.


76 nata: bent, humble.


77 Bent downward in self-oblivious ecstasy.


78 Doubtful reading; MS mutilated.


79 Probably Sri Aurobindo meant to write “despair” or “despairs”.