My God, My Prophet, My Avatar – M.S.Srinivasan

[Illuminating perspectives form Sri Aurobindo on a form of egoism and intolerance which is prevalent among devotees, seekers and disciples in the religious and spiritual path, followed by a commentary]

The sadhaka of the integral Yoga will make use of all these aids according to his nature; but it is necessary that he should shun their limitations and cast from himself that exclusive tendency of egoistic mind which cries, “My God, my Incarnation, my Prophet, my Guru,” and opposes it to all other realisation in a sectarian or a fanatical spirit. All sectarianism, all fanaticism must be shunned; for it is inconsistent with the integrity of the divine realisation.

On the contrary, the sadhaka of the integral Yoga will not be satisfied until he has included all other names and forms of Deity in his own conception, seen his own Ishta Devata in all others, unified all Avatars in the unity of Him who descends in the Avatar, welded the truth in all teachings into the harmony of the Eternal Wisdom.

Sri Aurobindo, CWSA

Vol.20, Pg.59-60

The last part of this passage points out to a unique feature of Sri Aurobindo’s thought. Sri Aurobindo accepts the truth behind all teachings which come from an authentic inner realization of the Spirit, indicates its spiritual source, and brings out its significance as well as its limitations, puts each in its place in the totality of an integral truth-vision. This all-embracing, all-inclusive and al-accepting totality is the uniqueness of Sri Aurobindo’s vision.

Sri Aurobindo accepts the equal validity of the spiritual experiences behind the three major schools of Indian philosophy: non dualism of Sankara, qualified nondualism of Ramanuja and dualism of Madwa, According to Sri Aurobindo, there is not even a “hair’s breadth” of inferiority or superiority between these experiences, which are reflections in the human mind,…. not in the ordinary mind but in the silent, purified mind of the yogi… of three poises of the Supermind. At the human mental level they are three conflicting philosophies which endlessly debated against each other in ancient India. But in its spiritual source they are equal and simultaneous posture of the supramental consciousness which expresses itself in the spiritual mind of the yogi as distinct spiritual experiences and at the intellectual level as three conflicting philosophical system. This integral perspective of Sri Aurobindo is somewhat similar to that of another great yogi of South India; Swami Ramalingam. According to Ramalingam, Nataraja, the Divine Dancer dances simultaneously in many postures and each posture gives birth to a distinct religious, philosophical or yogic systems like Siddhantha, Vedhantha, Yoagntha, Bhakthantha.

In the highest spiritual experience there can be a fusion of many conflicting philanthropies. For example, in Indian Yoga, the path of devotion accepts the dualistic philosophy and begins with a dualistic attitude of soul and God as distinct entities. But when we look at the highest realisations of the path, we can see an experiential fusion of all three philosophical positions. Nammalwar, a Vaishnava mystic and devotee of Vishnu says to his divine lord, “O, Lord, I can feel that my soul is nothing but Thyself becoming myself and worshipping Thyself.”

But the academic pundit and scholars of nondualism assert their position as the highest Truth and that of others as inferior stages on the path to their own “highest “ position, We can see here another subtle form of condescending intolerance!

This approach of discerning and accepting the truth and purpose behind things is the way of Sri Aurobindo not only in spiritual thought but also in his discussions on secular thought and ideas like humanism, socialism, communism, materialism. Interestingly, Mother once said that if you draw rigid boundaries around Sri Aurobindo’s thought, making it into something clear, precise, fixed and distinct, it will soon degenerate into a religion. According to my understanding, it means that Sri Aurobindo’s teachings should not become a fixed system of spiritual thought or the philosophy of an “Aurobindonian” cult but remain as a boundariless idea, vision or a synthesis which includes the truth of all teachings and which can be applied to every sphere of thought and life from the most mundane to the highest spiritual.

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3 thoughts on “My God, My Prophet, My Avatar – M.S.Srinivasan

  1. It is a delight to read this post. Especially because, just yesterday, from this month’s AIM issue, I was struck by this quote of Sri Aurobindo : “…you must try to understand that the Divine is not only what you think or feel Him to be, but also what others think and feel Him to be – and in addition something that nobody can think and feel.” Let us be grateful to the Mother and The Master for gently correcting us every time when we stray from the path.

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