Vedic Mathematics

Some time in the late 1960s, I came upon a quaint-looking book. Perhaps it was during a visit to New York from Rome where I was then residing, while browsing through a so-called ‘esoteric bookstore’ which specialised in books on Eastern philosophy, occultism, astrology, yoga, and so forth. Or else it may have been given to me by a friend in view of my interest in the unusual. The book, I repeat, was quaint-looking and immediately recognisable as coming from India. In those days publishing in India was not characterised by fancy layouts, designs or anything that would make it comparable to western publications. But it must also be noted that the cost of books from India then was a fraction of what they now cost. Today, given the improvement in design, quality of paper and printing, books are out of the range of the common man and can be purchased only by the well-to-do. Until the mid 1970s this was not the case. Advanced technology has proved a bane to the book-lover of the medium and lower income brackets in India.

The book is still in my possession. It travelled with me across the globe when I came to India, bringing ‘coals to Newcastle’, we might say. However, shortly after my arrival, when the subject of this publication came up in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, I realised that this remarkable volume, entitled Vedic Mathematics, was almost entirely unknown in India. The author was the Shankaracharya of Govardhana Math in Puri, with the formidable name, Jagadguru Swami Sri Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaja. The copy I possess is from the first edition, printed in 1965 at the Benaras Hindu University Press. Its subtitle is ‘Sixteen simple mathematical formulae from the Vedas (For one line answers to All Mathematical Problems)’.

I am not a mathematician, but how could one fail to be captured by the pronouncement that a mere 16 verses or aphorisms from the ancient Vedas would provide one line answers to ALL mathematical problems! In addition, there was a captivating photograph of the author in a yogic pose to enhance the appeal of the book. Seated on a tiger skin in the traditional fashion, his face nonetheless did not especially reflect an emphasis on the otherworldly. Bespectacled, firmly rooted on this Earth, scholarly and practical.

In the 1960s the number of publications on such subjects – termed indiscriminately ‘esoteric’ – was still small in spite of the fact that interest was growing due to India’s spiritual invasion of the West. Indeed, the selection was small but the quality was good, unlike today when we find a vast increase in this line of publication, hardly any of which are of serious worth.

The moment I glanced through the Swami-ji’s (if I may be permitted to abbreviate) book I instinctively knew I had come upon something of great value and uniqueness. Since then the book has gone into other editions, no longer as quaint-looking as the first. In the 1960s, apart from an opening to all things eastern and particularly Indian in terms of philosophy, music, cuisine, dress, and so forth, the world was witnessing another invasion: electronics. Computers were starting to invade the market and they too were becoming increasingly more sophisticated with each passing year. My quick perusal of Vedic Mathematics informed me, however, that this system was in a sense unveiling a certain computer capacity in the human brain. But apart from this obvious characteristic, the system Swami-ji presented clearly reflected an entirely different consciousness. Its basis was different from all other forms of computation. To me it seemed as if something sacred and awesome lay at the basis of the formulation. This feeling was well-founded because the Swami had apparently followed a certain discipline for the discovery which has its roots in the ancient Vedic system of yoga. It was, in a sense, revelation.

Though I have carried the book with me throughout my travels, I have rarely opened it since then. But today in India this subject has taken an interesting turn; hence my desire to relate certain experiences I had in the early 1970s with this particular text.

In 197l, after a special ‘initiation’ (see The Tenth Day of Victory), I found myself in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry at the Mother’s feet, she who had guided my yoga in Rome overtly from the early part of that year. Though I brought very few possessions with me to the Ashram, I did bring Vedic Mathematics. In fact, I was convinced that this system was the basis for mathematical instruction in the Ashram International Centre of Education. My young son who travelled with me was enrolled in this school which I felt would be superior to other educational institutions, in particular in what concerned these ‘esoteric matters’.

I was soon to be woken from these illusions when I realised that the Centre of Education was as conventional as any other school in India or in the West. Indeed, in many respects it was more conventional and unimaginative.

When I learned that Vedic Mathematics was not even known in the school, much less did it form a part of the curriculum, I wrote to the Mother on the subject and sent her the book along with my letter. I pointed out some of its features and how surprised I was that in Sri Aurobindo’s ashram this system was unknown and did not form the basis of maths instruction. The Mother in turn sent my letter and the book to the school’s registrar, Shri Kireet Joshi, for his assessment. Kireet Joshi, on his part, circulated the book through the math department for the teachers’ opinion and the feasibility of incorporating this unique system in the school’s curriculum.

When sufficient time had passed for a verdict, I went to the registrar to learn the outcome. His reply was predictable: In the opinion of the teachers modern calculators made Vedic Mathematics redundant.

But the registrar himself had an interesting story to tell. On his part he was delighted with the rediscovery of Vedic Mathematics. He related that when he was nine years old, the author of the book came to his village, in Gujarat, I believe, and gave a talk to the people on his system. The young Kireet Joshi never forgot the experience; but he lost touch with the Swami and heard nothing more of Vedic Mathematics until my copy of the Swami’s book reached him via the Mother. It was certainly a curious turn of events that this uniquely Indian and ancient Vedic system should have come to him from distant places and from ‘foreigner’s hands’; that is, the Mother and myself. Equally curious was the fact that apart from his enthusiasm, the math teachers demonstrated no particular interest and seemed unable to appreciate the special qualities of consciousness which the system had the capacity to foster in the student – namely a consciousness of unity, for lack of a better description.

The book was returned to me and the matter ended there – or so it seemed at the time. I realised that in the Ashram I was unlikely to find a congenial atmosphere for ‘new’ discoveries. In spite of the Mother’s presence and constant encouragement to blaze new trails, the school did not offer anything special to the student except the fact that tests were unknown and there was no system of grading as such. This was a mixed blessing, however, in that it tended to foster a laxity which the ordinary school discourages by way of competition and regular examination. This was especially evident in physical education. Sports activities can rarely thrive when competition is lacking to urge the achiever on to record-breaking frontiers. But coming from the competitive West, it was a relief to experience a more relaxed atmosphere. However, this same laxity and disregard for the ancient roots of the culture surfaced in an especially important sphere of the Mother’s equally Vedic temple creation. And in this too Kireet Joshi played a vital part.

The registrar left the Ashram several years later and returned to his former life, that of a bureaucrat. Indira Gandhi was the prime minister of India then and having had a close contact with the Mother, she was keen to introduce a new educational policy perhaps influenced by Sri Aurobindo’s thought and the Mother’s insights. Thus, Kireet Joshi was given the position of a special advisor in the Department of Education; and it seems that one of his pet projects thereafter was the promulgation of Vedic Mathematics. Seminars were organised to discuss the subject. Their success was aided by the fact that the West was becoming increasingly interested in the system. Thus the former Ashram School registrar played a significant role in fostering the spread of Vedic Mathematics and encouraging investigation into its unique features.

In 1991 and the electoral breakthrough of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in four important states in the north of India, Vedic Mathematics was forthwith incorporated into the curriculum at lower levels of education. Text books were modified for this purpose and Vedic Mathematics was to be officially presented as an alternative system, though not displacing the contemporary methods. There was, as well, a brief history of its origins and the capacity of the ancient sages to discover such a unique system in what has come to be a domain solely of the modern scientist, while the sage is relegated to the world of the Spirit exclusively. The fact that the student was finally being introduced to the wide-ranging capacity of the ancients, where formerly they were being taught differently, was a formidable breakthrough in a country which for some peculiar reason has come to look upon the work of the Seers as nothing more than superstitious ‘religion’. By the introduction of this history and brief acquaintance with Vedic Mathematics, a certain respect was fostered in the students for India’s ancient culture which left a heritage of such a unique quality and far-reaching significance.

Interestingly, as soon as the BJP governments in those four states were dismissed by the Central Government after the Ayodhya denouement, one of the first objectives of the Government was the deletion of Vedic Mathematics from the curriculum. For some intriguing reason it would seem as if these maths, having their roots in the ancient Veda, might somehow disturb the secular fabric of the Indian post-Independence republic.

Having a special stake in this affair, I have been watching the developments carefully since 197l, when I first sent my copy of Vedic Mathematics to the Mother. The attitude of the Ashram’s math department was as bizarre as that of the present-day government. But the repulsion the system causes in most quarters is understandable if we realise that it is impossible to accept this special system without accepting the entire foundation of the ancient culture prior to the impositions of conquering cultures over the past 1500 years. That is, Vedic Mathematics is just one aspect of a culture whose keyword is Unity. Added to this is Integrality. Thus, if Vedic Mathematics is accepted and fostered, a natural correlation is the acceptance of a consciousness of unity which was the special characteristic of the Rishis of old. Out of this consciousness evolved all the cultural expressions which are still found on the subcontinent. Those who combat the reestablishment of this consciousness as the guiding light of the nation, naturally feel threatened by the introduction of any of its products when they are expressly demonstrated to arise from the ancient source.

 

Let me discuss as aspect of this issue which draws the discussion pointedly to the Mother’s work. Though the Swami-ji states that the sixteen aphorisms he employs in his book for certain procedures are ‘from the Veda’, in fact they do not seem to appear in any of the ancient texts. They are ‘apocryphal’, it is considered. But actually the Swami is entirely justified in claiming that they are ‘Vedic’ and of the ancient variety because he has simply used the same method as of old in his discovery. The yogic method of discovery is the important factor. Then as now. A Seer today can make the same discoveries if he or she employs the same methods. The result may then be considered thoroughly ‘Vedic’.

Thus, the same consciousness of unity which gave to the world Vedic Mathematics through the yogic genius of Swami Tirhaji Maharaja worked through the Mother when she gave to the world a plan for a temple. Her method of discovery, or ‘seeing’, was Vedic of the ancient order. Thus, the product may be considered as Vedic as any other temple found in India today. However, the truth of the matter is that similar to the Swami’s discoveries, the world has great difficulty in seeing in the Mother’s creation anything truly Vedic. Kireet Joshi, it appears, suffered from this same limitation and the stamp of this ignorance was cemented in the building that has come up in Auroville as ‘the Mother’s creation’.

It is understandable that the human being of today, and in particular those who appear to guide the destiny of nations and peoples, should find this recognition an impossible feat. To recognise the same seed would mean that one had been touched by the same ‘light of the sun’ that had engendered the ancient and contemporary Rishi’s perception. For example, while the former registrar could appreciate the worth of the Swami’s Vedic Mathematics, he could not appreciate at all the Mother’s Vedic content in the plan she gave for her temple. Indeed, he is one of the individuals most responsible for the changes which have taken shape in the actual construction which caused the building to lose all of its Vedic content. This came to pass because the Ministry in which he is employed is in charge of Auroville, and he himself has throughout been  one of the most prominent members of the various committees which have guided the destiny of the enterprise after the Government of India was handed the operation on a platter in the mid 1970s.

Clearly Shri Kireet Joshi could not recognise the Vedic content in the Mother’s creation; or perhaps it was too much to expect that a ‘foreigner’ could really and truly be equal to the ancient Rishis in these matters. Indeed, to have surpassed their Seeing in fact. Much less that another ‘foreigner’ could explain this Vedic content in the Mother’s plan and insist that it should be respected precisely because it is an act of reestablishment, similar to the Swami’s Vedic Mathematics.

In the latter we have another example of the way the Dharma is reestablished. This is a RENEWAL. Or in the case of Vedic Mathematics, a rediscovery or an elaboration of new aphorisms. Swami-ji was correct in holding that his work is from the Veda because, like the Mother, his exposition has its roots in that same consciousness and experience. Consequently, the Hindu resurgence can never be fundamentalist, as is sought to be made out. It is never dogmatic, never an imposition of past formulae which are frozen in time and hence out of step with today’s world. The important factor is the basic realisation which fosters the same vision, which stems from a consciousness of unity. Or better, a blending, a perfect harmonisation of the Unity and the Multiplicity. If Kireet Joshi and the other wielders of power in Auroville had been touched by the same ‘rays of the sun’ which inspired the Rishis of old, not only would they see in Swami Tirthaji Maharaja’s Vedic Mathematics a core of truth but they would have recognised the same truth-essence in the Mother’s plan of her temple. Having been so centrally instrumental in the government take-over of Auroville, and then the total destruction of the Matrimandir’s Vedic content, it is clear that the erstwhile registrar may have faced the understandable stumbling-block most of humanity faces: the colour of one’s skin, even if this be the skin of one’s professed Guru! In my experience in India and with sages and yogis of true realisation, whatever the path, this limitation has not been in evidence. But the views of such souls have never been heeded with regard to the Auroville construction.

This story began in the late 1960s and with my discovery of the book Vedic Mathematics. It was followed by the rejection of the system by the Ashram math authorities in early 1972. The then registrar fostered the subject when he was in a position to do so, having left the Ashram for a post in the Education Ministry. Thereafter Vedic Mathematics received a certain impetus in India, but more especially abroad. This is made evident by a publication which has just come into my hands while browsing through a bookstore in Bangalore. It is entitled, Issues in Vedic Mathematics (Motilal Banarsidas Publisher). Its date of publication is 1988. The book consists of a collection of papers presented at a workshop on Vedic Mathematics organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resource Development of which Kireet Joshi is Special Secretary in its Department of Education. (This is the Ministry under which the affairs of Auroville come.) Perusing this book I was astounded because of the Government’s present antagonism to the subject, notwithstanding the fact that scholars of repute have acknowledged the superior qualities per se of the system, as well as the enhancement of consciousness its study can foster in students.

The question is, logically, why? The answer is to be found in the same area I have been pursuing in the discussion of Vedic culture and the Mother’s temple. And it is clear that politicians and bureaucrats are unable to stand as arbitrators in such matters – for example, the implementation of the Mother’s original plan of the temple – because they base their assessments on what furthers personal ambition, to gain prominence in the management of Auroville after the Mother’s passing, to secure a foothold there not by virtue of the power of a yogic realisation but simply by manipulation, compromise and government fiats. The result is that the ‘light of the luminous Sun of Truth’ is forsaken in favour of the ego’s dark sun of its personal and limited ambitions. And it is the same dark sun that keeps Vedic Mathematics out of the school curriculum even as a secondary subject, an item of curiosity as an alternative method.

Clearly both these issues tread upon the toes of ‘secularists’ in a similar fashion. The maths of the ancients is perhaps too ‘religiously’ grounded. Likewise, the Mother’s original plan, Vedic in its content to the core, is deemed inferior to a western architect’s ‘secular’ version, untainted by any pretensions of a ‘higher light’. This is the world into which we have to bring our children. This is the consciousness to which we must entrust their development and well-being. And on this basis we expect a ‘new world order’ to emerge.

 

 

June of 1993

Aeon Centre of Cosmology

at Skambha

 

 

 

 

Culture and Cosmos – 3, Part 3.1

In the last issue I laid emphasis on the splendid myth, the Churning of the Milky Ocean, Samudra Manthan in Sanskrit. I connected the tale to the experience in India today via the temple construction in Auroville and the fact that both devas and asuras were gathered together for the strenuous labour of churning, or setting Time upon its accelerated march. The correlation is exact to an astounding degree which the present discussion will further clarify; for the actual construction in Auroville is the best proof of the truth of my statement, and in particular the allocation of the ‘head’ of the Serpent Vasuki to the titans.

This was indeed the case in Auroville and it is confirmed in the centre-most portion of the construction, the two primary ‘symbols’ which the Mother has called the Globe and Pedestal, but which in the Auroville rendition are termed ‘crystal and stand’.

The Core of the Mother’s original plan is indeed ‘the symbol of the future realisation’, as she described it. It is Vedic in its innermost essence for it indicates the correct harmony, balance, axial alignment and proportions to attain the state of Immortality, similar to the apex of the ancient Vedic quest. As I have pointed out earlier, essential to this symbolism is fulness. Without that the Core cannot bear any relation to the Vedic quest which we find confirmed in these magnificent Skambha verses from the Atharvaveda,

                   From fulness he pours forth the full;

            the full spreads, merging with the full.

            We eagerly would know from whence

            he thus replenishes himself?

                                    

Or else, from the Isha Upanishad,

      That is Fulness, this is Fulness,

from Fulness comes Fulness.

When Fulness is taken from Fulness,

Fulness remains…

 

This then is the first premise: FULNESS. And for a creation to bear any relation to the Veda of the ancient school which occupied the consciousness of Sri Aurobindo from the beginning of his Yoga and mission, it must be faithful to this supreme truth above all else: creation is the outcome of fulness and not emptiness. Equally important, it is a flowering from within, from the CENTRE outward, never the reverse.

This condition is superbly described by Sri Aurobindo in his The Human Cycle, Chapter VII, ‘The Ideal Law of Social Development’, where he dwells on the difference between the earlier stages of social development and the new subjective age, as he calls it, the period when precisely a reversal is experienced:

 

‘…As the free development of individuals from within is the best condition for the growth and perfection of the community, so the free development of the community or nation from within is the best condition for the growth and perfection of mankind.’ (Page 63.)

 

Contrasted with the above definition we have the Auroville rendition which conveys the opposite to fullness and this ‘growth from within’, so indispensable for the evolution of humanity to a higher stage. Any impartial observer even minimally conversant with the language of symbols must agree that what stands in the shadow-temple in Auroville today, purportedly ‘faithful to the Mother’s original plan’, conveys the message of intrinsic emptiness. In a word, the Auroville experiment has left for posterity a ‘message’ totally opposed to the truth Sri Aurobindo and the Mother laboured throughout this lifetime and in the past to root in the evolution of consciousness. The transparent ‘crystal’ is not only a defiance of the Mother’s specific command that the Globe must be translucent, not transparent (as in the Auroville rendering), but it also serves as an item upon which images from outside are projected upside-down, to complicate matters even more. Yet this is the perfect symbol to represent the present human species under the rule of the Cosmic Ignorance, aligned in such a manner as to be poised in the periphery of consciousness and subject to inevitable collapse. Such a focus of the community’s life can only influence the movement to a dependence on external stimuli, as well as a total dependence on solutions from outside in all areas of the collective life.

In addition to the above transgression, there is the equally significant symbolism of the stand, which I call the Pedestal, following the Mother’s nomenclature. The Auroville ‘stand’ is as empty as the crystal it supports. In defiance of the Mother’s command once again, the designers and builders chose to construct it in metal. That is, it is no longer a closed rectangle with Sri Aurobindo’s symbols carved in stone, as the Mother saw in her vision, but a wrought-iron crafted version of the symbols, fully open and exposing the inner space entirely. This metal version was then gold-plated, again contrary to the Mother’s instructions.

In the August 1992 issue of VISHAAL (TVN 7/3), I had pointed out that it is no wonder the stand was terribly flawed and countless tiny holes dotted the faces of the symbols. The jeweller in Bombay who was to gold-plate the ‘stand’ concluded that these holes would turn the metal black eventually. In the face of this possibility, it seems the builders once again wasted the public’s contributions and they opted for a new stand. But this time it was fabricated in Germany, India having demonstrated herself incapable of executing the work properly.

I have always sustained that the Matrimandir represents the accurate truth of what IS. Indeed India could never have contributed such a ‘stand’ to the shadow-temple which is being passed off to the public as ‘faithful to the Mother’s original plan’. It had to be done in Germany, similar to the ‘crystal’. Thus the heart and soul of what was meant to be the Mother’s creation had to be manufactured not in India but in Germany.

Why specifically Germany? For there is a method to the madness. Central to the problem is something much deeper than technology, though the western builders of the shadow-temple no doubt believe that in this development the supremacy of western technology is once again demonstrated. Rather, this most interesting development from the point of view of the new cosmology, reaches to the heart of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga and mission. And it concerns precisely the question of the contribution of the Titans and the Gods as described in the myth under discussion. The point at issue is the nature of the Superman. Is it to be Nietzsche’s titanic version or Sri Aurobindo’s Vedic, Gnostic creation?

The shadow-temple in Auroville appears to reveal that India has rejected Sri Aurobindo’s Vedic answer and has accepted Nietzsche’s titanic model. That both crystal and stand were finally manufactured in Germany is proof that this is the true position. For the Matrimandir symbolism cannot fail to reveal what IS.

This development is fascinating from an objective standpoint and an analysis of the interconnection of things. For Germany has played a prominent role in the scholastic hoax I have been discussing in these pages regarding the Aryan Invasion Theory. In addition we have the Third Reich which usurped the Aryan nomenclature, perverted its deepest sense and utilised Nietzsche’s philosophy in the process to lend solidity to the interpretation. Sri Aurobindo deals at length with the role of Germany in the transition to the subjective age, and its failure to achieve the desired results:

 

‘…Germany was for the time the most remarkable present instance of a nation preparing for the subjective stage because it had, in the first place, a certain kind of vision – unfortunately intellectual rather than illuminated – and the courage to follow it – unfortunately again a vital and intellectual rather than a spiritual hardihood, – and, secondly, being master of its destinies, was able to order its own life so as to express its self-vision… A nation whose master achievement has lain almost entirely in the two spheres of philosophy and music, is clearly predestined to lead in the turn to subjectivism and to produce a profound result for good or evil on the beginnings of the subjective age.

This was one side of the predestination of Germany; the other is to be found in her scholars, educationalists, scientists, organisers. It was the industry, the conscientious diligence, the fidelity to ideas, the honest and painstaking spirit of work for which the nation has been long famous. A people may be highly gifted in the subjective capacities, and yet if it neglects to cultivate this lower side of our complex nature, it will fail to build that bridge between the idea and imagination and the world of facts, between the vision and the force, which makes realisation possible; its higher powers may become a joy and inspiration to the world, but it will never take possession if its own world until it has learned the humbler lesson. In Germany the bridge was there, though it ran mostly through a dark tunnel with a gulf underneath; for there was no pure transmission from the subjective mind of the thinkers and singers to the objective mind of the scholars and organisers. The misapplication by Treitschke of the teachings of Nietzsche to national and international uses which would have profoundly disgusted the philosopher himself, is an example of this obscure transmission. But still a transmission there was. For more than a half-century Germany turned a deep eye of subjective introspection on herself and things and ideas in search of the truth of her own being and the world, and for another half-century a patient eye of scientific research on the objective means for organising what she had or thought she had gained. And something was done, something indeed powerful and enormous, but also in certain directions, not in all, misshapen and disconcerting. Unfortunately, those directions were precisely the very central lines on which to go wrong is to miss the goal.’ (Ibid, pages 34-35.)

Thus, joined together are all these elements, an incredible web in which Germany stands as the central hub with the Vedic swastika finally coming to lend its sanctity to the perversion of the Aryan ‘superman’.

When this perversion was taking shape in India and in Europe, Sri Aurobindo was labouring through the mire of the ages to cleanse the evolution of just those elements, divergences, misinterpretations which could produce a Third Reich; and, bewilderingly, he called his new specimen the Superman, just as Nietzsche had. From that time diligent students, scholars and practitioners of his integral yoga have struggled to understand the difference between the titanic and the Vedic or gnostic model. Having been such a master of the English language, it is clear that Sri Aurobindo selected this term carefully and deliberately.

And now, after so many decades, in perhaps the most significant stage of the work of the Supramental Avatars, we find the ‘victory’ of the Germanic Nietzschean titan represented in the crystal and stand of the Auroville shadow-temple, both of which were manufactured in Germany.

Simultaneous with the above development – that is, while the crystal and stand were being manufactured in Germany – the Hindutva movement in India began to gain unexpected momentum so that on the national scene the very same issue would be vigorously debated: the acceptance of the titanic version of the Aryan origin of the civilisation inhabiting the subcontinent, or the indigenous version as it appears in the Veda. Nothing that the votaries of Hindutva have done has so incensed the western-influenced intellectual elite of India as must as the altering of textbooks to rid the educational system of this perversion regarding the ‘Aryan conquerors’. It is second only to the demolition of the erstwhile Babar symbol of conquest at Ayodhya, – and, of course, the introduction of Vedic Mathematics as an alternative system (see article ‘Vedic Mathematics, Why the Controversy?’).

Thus, at one and the same time at these different points in the Indian subcontinent, the same struggle Sri Aurobindo engaged in continues: to establish the gnostic being as the next species in the evolution of consciousness rather than the titanic Nietzchean superman. Sri Aurobindo continues in his analysis of the role Germany has played in the transition, to highlight that which needs to be done now is what Germany did not do rightly then, and that we cannot go backward in time but forward to the new times with the right vision and capacity and realisation:

      ‘It may be said, indeed, that the last result of the something done – the war, the collapse, the fierce reaction towards the rigid, armoured, aggressive, formidable Nazi State…is a clear warning to abandon that path and go back to the earlier and safer ways. But the misuse of great powers is no argument against their right use. To go back is impossible; the attempt is always, indeed, an illusion; we have all to do the same thing which Germany has attempted, but to take care not to do it likewise.’ (Ibid, pages 35-36, italics mine.)

Further, Sri Aurobindo describes the failure, linking it precisely to the question of the difference between the right poise and that of the Titan:

 

‘…That befell (Germany) which sometimes befalls the seeker on the path of Yoga, the art of conscious self-finding, – a path exposed to far profounder perils than beset ordinarily the average man, – when he follows a false light to his spiritual ruin. She had mistaken her vital ego for herself; she had sought for her soul and found only her force. For she had said, like the Asura, “I am my body, my life, my mind, my temperament,” and become attached with a Titanic force to these; especially she had said, “I am my life and body”, and than that there can be no greater mistake for man or nation. The soul of man or nation is something more and diviner than that; it is greater than its instruments and cannot be shut up in a physical, a vital, a mental or a temperamental formula. So to confine it, even though the false social formation be embodied in the armour-plated social body of a huge collective human dinosaurus, can only stifle the growth of the inner Reality and end in decay or the extinction that overtakes all that is unplastic and unadaptable.’ (Ibid, page 36.)

 

The Gunas integrated in the body of Mother India

 

In the course of this discussion we shall observe how this issue is not simply a question of a poise of consciousness – though this is its primary feature. Included are the actual physical dimensions of India as specified by the Capricorn hieroglyph laid upon the subcontinental landmass, with the three gunas, or Qualities, as they are called in astrology, contained in its triadic form. At the same time, these three sections allocated to the respective guna, rajas, sattwa, tamas, are ‘contained’ in the Globe (and Pedestal) under discussion on the basis of the Laws of Correspondence and Equivalency, insofar as the Mother specified 70cms for the Globe’s diameter which correspond to the 40 plus 30 degrees of longitude and latitude, respectively, of India of the Capricorn hieroglyph. All of these elements are drawn into this portion of our analysis and the question of India’s choice for the new millennium: the Vedic or titanic superman.

The gunas hold one of the main keys to understand the difference. From ancient times India has categorised the human consciousness according to this tri-fold structure. A human being, the sages understood in antiquity, bears a particular temperament which colours his experience of life, or which conditions his responses to any circumstances his destiny draws around him. We have seen that this same allocation is valid in terms of India’s geography and the physical character of the land and its people who inhabit the areas corresponding to these three gunas. For example, the north-western portion belongs to rajas, the kinetic, active, dynamic principle, and the people who in large measure belong to this area do indeed conform to the quality of rajas. In addition, the predominantly mountainous terrain is a further indication of the validity of the allocation. (See diagram A, further down.)

Previously I referred to the Brihat Samhita as a sort of precursor to The New Way, and how its synthesis of various disciplines is similar to the present exercise. I used sacred architecture primarily as a focus for the comparison. Again we may refer to the older texts and compare it with the new cosmology in the question of temple architecture and the allocation of the gunas to specific geographical sections of India. These are especially found in the South Indian manuals on temple building. The difference between them and The New Way is striking in that, once again, the new revelations provide proof when compared to the old that the Dharma has matured as it were, and the essence of the Capricorn symbol has indeed become rooted on Earth in the geographical area which it delineates.

In olden times while the subcontinent was divided into the specific areas allocated to the gunas, the designations were deficient in that the Capricorn symbol did not provide the hieroglyphic key to the allocation. For indeed it is this revelation, an occurrence of our very times, which draws us across the threshold of an Age and into the new supramental era.

The difference today is that the process, the seeing, is integral. That is, time has matured the evolution of consciousness to a degree where a more universal experience is possible. Thus, India does not stand isolated though central on the globe, as in ancient times, and any allocation of the gunas must necessarily bear the limitations this constriction imposes. In this Age, India continues to occupy her central position but the boundaries of the circle of which she is the central point, the Omphalos, to use the Greek term, have been extended to include the entire planet, unlike at any other time in our period of recorded history. It may further be stated that a principal characteristic of our 9th Manifestation has been the exploration of the Earth and the opening up of new frontiers, both on the surface of the planet and well beyond into outer space. With this extension the rules which formerly were applied in such cases as the allocation of the gunas to geographical segments necessarily undergo a certain re-evaluation. The boundary conditions the content within. When the full boundary or periphery has been measured out – like the three paces Vishnu takes to measure the universe, equivalent to the three concentric circles of the Mother’s symbol and in the floor plan of her temple, – then the evolution is equipped to exceed its own limitations: the field of its experience is enhanced and consequently the consciousness of its species is also enhanced.

In the present context, this means that the triadic play of the gunas must be re-examined within the parameters of this extension. This pertains as well to all areas of culture in which the gunas play a role.

In temple architecture we note that South Indian texts (Agamas, as they are known) describe three styles of temples: Nagara, Dravida, and Vesara; in turn these are correlated to the gunas, the order starting with sattwa. This ternary is equally the threefold geographical division of India: the North, the Deccan, and the South, as Dr Stella Kramrisch records in her The Hindu Temple (Volume 2, page 292, Motilal Banaridas Publisher). Further on Kramrisch states, ‘…The schematism of the division of the whole of India according to the prevalence of the three Gunas and the three styles is not to be taken literally.’ (ibid, page 293.) That is, these styles are not actually restricted to the areas allocated to the gunas according to the ancient geo-cosmology, and are found throughout India irrespective of the geography of the gunas. Consequently, they bear a more metaphysical significance, rather than the practical application of the New Way cosmology. Nonetheless, we do find that the landmass was considered, for some now unknown reason, to relate to the gunas, similar to the human consciousness. If India, through some yogic act of seeing could be ‘measured’ in this triadic fashion, similar to the human being, then the nation could rightfully be considered the embodiment of the Goddess and sacred to the core.

Thus, the point I wish to emphasise is the concept of a geographical mass in some way connected to the qualities which astrological tradition has used in its division of the ecliptic. That is, 12 signs divided into 4 quarters, each of which consists in turn of 3 signs which are the triadic plays of the gunas, rajas, sattwa and, tamas.. And this is the structure of the Mother’s symbol and therefore the foundation of the original plan of her temple. Though the ancient allocation does not conform to the new revelations in contemporary India, it is important to note that this singular feature of the new cosmology was central to the ancient formulation as well. We are especially interested in discovering, or rather, re-discovering, the laws which underline this sort of paradigm and which are as valid today as they were in antiquity, though from time to time a re-evaluation must take place due to the extended boundaries of the Circle. For this reason the Mother has left us a temple plan to serve as a ‘new  model of the universe’ which reestablishes, this ancient concept and by the aid of the new cosmology we are able to apply the concept, thus rendering it relevant to our times and the progressive evolution of the species.

In earlier times the gunas were laid on the landmass vertically, from north to south. Today, however, with the aid of the Capricorn hieroglyph the more accurate placement emerges and we locate the three horizontally, following the same direction as the longitudinal measurement of the globe. This may be viewed as an arbitrary convention inasmuch as Greenwich, England, is the 0 point and the start of the measurement, and the fact that this became established in the heyday of the British Empire. It may therefore be considered one more display of Euro-centrism and British pride of conquest, without any real and intrinsic truth per se. I would rather view the matter in a different light. I see the British as instruments, as pawns in the play of vaster proportions than those imposed by a particular historical development solely. That development must be assessed within the larger parameters of the evolutionary design. Certain key events and developments occurred in a convergence of happenings in this and the last century. Nations, empires, as well as individuals, were utilised for this climactic maturing in the process of universalisation. For without the 0 degree measurement from the Greenwich longitude eastward, the stunning beauty of the geo-cosmological paradigm of the New Way could never have been discovered. That is, it would not have been possible to lay the Gnostic Circle yardstick of the celestial sphere of 360° on the surface of the planet in a way which would give us the sign Capricorn, , precisely where India starts at 61° east of Greenwich, continuing eastward until the full hieroglyph ends at the farther borders of Burma. (See diagram B, taken from The New Way, Volume 2, page 348.)

It may be true that India enjoyed a cultural/spiritual unity long before Moghul and British rule. But it needs to be appreciated that a certain political and administrative unity, embracing the complete Capricorn hieroglyph for the first time came into being with the British Raj. This is because of the convergence (in time and space) of a series of elements which permitted the descent of the Capricorn hieroglyph on Earth. With this revelation, this seal and sanction of the Supreme, known in zodiacal lore as the Name of God, the new Age of Supermind can be said to have begun.

Essential ingredients in this manifestation are harmony and integration, precisely of the three gunas. For this to occur one of the first acts in the reestablishment of the Dharma is the correct listing of the gunasrajas, sattwa, tamas – so that they may be correlated with the cosmic harmony whence they have their origin. The revelation of the Capricorn hieroglyph on the subcontinental landmass imposes this reorganisation, for the gunas could not be read in the hieroglyph if the order were the current listing of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. In an earlier portion of this study I have dwelt with the reasons for this mis-allocation in that with the rise and supremacy of the ‘otherworldliness’ of Adwaita and similar schools of yoga and philosophy, fostering the doctrine of Illusion in some form or other, Sattwa became disconnected from the rest and the sole poise of consciousness to be pursued. Sattwa, the guna of Preservation and Stability, easily became the hallmark of all spiritual quests extolling stasis and eschewing dynamism. This was the first clear sign of a loss of the Cosmic Truth in the vision. A world of disunity and division came to replace the ancient perception of oneness and unity, and with it the debility which must necessarily accompany a development of this order whereby energy is not contained, concentrated, but rather dissolved and dispersed. Indeed, the universe itself became a thing to escape from if at all salvation was to be the reward of a life of renunciation and arduous tapasya engaged in precisely to extricate oneself from the web of this cosmic existence.

 

The Golden Rod that harmonises Time in Space

 

As we have laid the Gnostic Circle along the surface of the planet (see Diagram B, page 23), with the result that the sign Capricorn, , is reached in the natural flow eastward precisely where India begins – the full India, that is, of the Capricorn hieroglyph – so too the time measurement offers the same harmony. Let us analyse the matter referring to the Mother’s original plan of her temple, for it is in that plan that the harmony of space and time and the Indian ‘centredness’ is revealed.

 

I have laid emphasis on the correct axial alignment of the temple, in the contemporary model as well as in antiquity. This arises when the very specific measurements the Mother gave at the time of her vision are scrupulously respected. This means that the visible solar ray must measure 15.20 metres from its entry into the chamber, through the Globe to the top of the Pedestal. The visible ray ends there. No more is seen of that shaft; and it is the Golden Rod or Divine Maya because these 15.20 correspond to the year’s 365 days.

The crucial placement is the Globe in the harmony, which in turn is determined by the accurate measurement of the Pedestal. I have discussed these items at length in The New Way as well as in earlier portions of the present study. But I now wish to stress the fact that the harmonisation of time with space arises in the chamber because the point where the light strikes the Globe in its descent into the room is the precise ‘location’ of the beginning of Capricorn in those 365 days.

Thus, the two harmonise, the space and time measurements. In one golden shaft, due to this correct axial alignment, we see how it is possible to contain the 40 plus 30 degrees of longitude and latitude of India in the Globe; and then, when this Globe that is India is correctly suspended beneath that Ray for it to ‘play upon the Globe’, to use the Mother’s words, in a particularly measured fashion so as to demarcate that especially sacred segment of the year, Capricorn, time and space join in a display of harmony unknown in any other cosmological paradigm.

Fifteen days are ‘seen’ in the Globe, from 21/22 December to 5/6 January. The whole of the Festival of Light. But in the Auroville rendition nothing of this harmony exists. The measurements are changed, the axis alignment is imperfect, the forms are devoid of sense and purpose. There is nothing in that interpretation to support a superior vision and to justify its connection with birth of the Gnostic Being. We have a disharmony, a cacophony indicative of the titanic imposition of a consciousness steeped in ignorance and pride.

 

Rajas and the Titan

 

The gunas enter the scene once again in our discussion of the titanic or gnostic superman. Rajas is the guna employed to describe the Western poise of consciousness. A scrutiny of history and contemporary psychology and sociology, as well as political  movements, such as Sri Aurobindo has done in The Human Cycle, quoted earlier, easily reveal that the West is indeed characterised by a rajasic nature rather than any of the remaining gunas, much less a harmonised combination of all three. The Nietzschean superman is in fact rajasic to the core. While the period in history which saw the rise in the world of that guna on centre stage, as it were, was the first half of this last century of the millennium. Hitler’s Germany embodied rajas, disconnected from the other gunas, as no other nation has done before or since. Consequently, it is understandable that the ‘crystal’ and ‘stand’ of the Matrimandir in Auroville should have been manufactured in Germany inasmuch as they do indeed present the observer with a perfect symbolic representation of the Teutonic model of ‘the new man’.

The essential point to note is that a new and superior gnostic species must per force combine in an especially harmonised manner all the gunas. Any severance or undue emphasis laid on any one of the three results in an imbalance and disharmony.

In the cosmic display of the triadic harmony there is never an imbalance, a disconnection, a severance. The three flow out of and into each other. Indeed, a disconnection at any stage would mean the collapse of energy and ultimately of our material universe. Similarly, the human being must strive to harmonise the three gunas so that truly a species arises on this planet fashioned in God’s image. For this the process of centering must be undertaken whereby the binary alignment is removed as the ‘balance’ of consciousness and a spheric wholeness comes into being.

A perusal of Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita reveals that originally, in a very distant past, that was the model of consciousness, not only individual but collective as well. Everything the civilisation produced has as its accepted backdrop a superior knowledge of the cosmic harmony in the terms I am describing in these pages. Even the construction of private habitations followed the same prescriptions. The shastras, or Scriptures, laid down models to be followed which would suit members of the different castes. Many follow these prescriptions even today. It was possible to do so because that fourfold division of society was part and parcel of the same cosmic harmony, as I have discussed in an earlier portion of this study. While the triadic play of the gunas emerges in each of the four segments of the fourfold wheel, at the same time the wheel describes the whole of the human consciousness and being: that is, each of us is the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, the Vaishya, and the Shudra. In turn, each of these four segments consists of the play of the three gunas.

Sri Aurobindo has dealt with the question of caste in ancient society during Vedic times in a similar fashion when he refers to the verses in the Rigveda which are the earliest references to the caste system on record, where the four castes are described as parts of the Cosmic Purush or Being. The point of the verses is not ‘poetic’, in the sense we understand the word today. It was ‘symbolic’, but in a sense which we do not understand today. He states,

 

‘…This appears in the Purushsukta of the Veda where the four orders are described as having sprung from the body of the creative Deity, from his head, arms, thighs and feet. To us this is merely a poetical image and its sense is that the Brahmins were the men of knowledge, the Kshatriyas the men of power, the Vaishyas the producers and support of society, the Shudras its servants. As if that were all, as if the men of those days would have so profound a reverence for mere poetical figures like this body of Brahma… We read always our own mentality into that of these ancient forefathers and it is therefore that we can find in them nothing but imaginative barbarians. To us poetry is a revel of intellect and fancy, imagination a plaything and caterer for our amusement, our entertainer, the nautch-girl of the mind. But to the men of old the poet was a seer, a revealer of hidden truths… The image was to these seers a revelative symbol of the unrevealed and it was used because it could hint luminously to the mind what the precise intellectual word, apt only for logical or practical thought or to express the physical and the superficial, could not at all hope to manifest. To them this symbol of the Creator’s body was more than an image, it expressed a divine reality. Human society was for them an attempt to express in life the cosmic Purusha who has expressed himself otherwise in the material and supraphysical universe. Man and the cosmos are both of them symbols and expressions of the same hidden Reality.’ (Ibid, pages 5-6.)

 

The element which we must focus our attention on in a discussion of rajas and the titans is the question of Will. It is the component in the human consciousness which can be especially affected by the imbalance of the gunas. And insofar as the human consciousness presents a singularly imbalanced poise, we can easily appreciate that a result of this disharmony of being is naturally a will that is in some way perverted.

Semitic traditions capture for us the moment when the human will became opposed to the Divine’s. In the tale of the fall of Lucifer the consequences of this antagonism results in that Light being consumed, or collapsing like some cosmic Black Hole, and the consciousness thereafter being structured around this Dark Sun.

Similarly in Hindu lore there are numerous tales elucidating this same ‘fall’. All descriptions of the Asuras, or Titans, display this same perversion when the enemies of the Gods must be conquered, their rampant antagonism to the Light must periodically be subdued.

In modern times we note that Sri Aurobindo has seen in the Germanic attempt at conquest during the Nazi upsurge similarly a question of will when he refers to the mistake made then in searching for the nation’s soul but coming upon only her vital ego. When we describe the process of alignment of the consciousness, be it collective or individual, around a dark sun, it is primarily this vital ego that is meant. This lower expression becomes the pivot of the being and determines the individual’s poise of consciousness vis-à-vis the Divine. And the vital being the seat of power, the next step is a nation or an individual unduly reliant on this aspect of consciousness-being as the tool for self-expression.

By means of the Capricorn hieroglyph on the map of India, corresponding as it does to the play of the gunas, (see diagram A) we have a clue to the character of the peoples inhabiting each portion of the symbol-map. The rajas segment is what draws our attention at this point of our study, though I intend to examine in depth the tamas segment further on, particularly in relation to Shiva as renouncer, as ascetic, or as the consort of the Divine Parvati. We shall once again note how accurate mythology can be in preserving the details of the ‘fall’ of a civilisation in these seemingly quaint and simple tales.

Regarding the rajas segment of the map, Pakistan as we know it today is entirely governed by this particular guna, as the symbol-map displays and as we know from her brief history since Partition. The predominance of the military in the young nation’s history certainly demonstrates the truth of the allocation. Even today, as I write these words, the military has come forward with its ultimatum to the politicians that either they solve their differences, or else!

Naturally rajas is not only concerned with the military and warfare. However, of its main characteristics when disconnected from its companions is the dominance of violent responses. The Kshatriya of old was certainly an example of an individual enjoying a correct axial balance of consciousness, whereby though the predominant principle in his life was rajas, it was harmonised by the intercession of other segments manifesting in the civilisation through other castes. That is, society of the fourfold order bore certain safeguards, safety-valves, as it were. The Kshatriya submitted himself to the sage, the Brahmin, in whom he could more easily see the Divine embodied. In this act he was submitting his will to that higher Will, that divinised consciousness and being of the Guru who is centred not on the mental or vital but on the divine Core with its divine Purpose: Agni, the divine Will working in the world.

It is interesting to note how strongly the Pakistani character was influenced by the very elements we are discussing in these pages. The Urdu poet, Iqbal, comes to mind in this regard, Recently a review by the author and critic, Mulk Raj Anand, of Rafique Zakaria’s book, Iqbal, was published in The Hindu 16.5.1993). The reviewer dwells on the ‘contradictions’ which Zakaria has shown in his study of Iqbal ‘…between the poet’s visionary verses and his political opinions, assertions and resolutions.’ Mulk Raj Anand points out that ‘…Dr. Zakaria has shown how Iqbal tried to apply the Utopian vision of his exalted poetic passion to practical politics, with the inevitable consequence that, while the visionary verses have moved five generations of the Urdu and Persian reading intelligentsia, the poet’s pure state – on the concept based on the Prophet Muhammad’s utterances, as from Allah, in the Koran – failed to become the ideal republic, but turned out to be a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.’

The reviewer goes on to discuss the nature of the poet’s quest starting from his days as a student in Europe and his admiration for certain modern philosophers. The distilled essence of this exercise seems to have been a perception of ‘the integral Self’’. And Descartes’ ‘I think, therefore I am’ appears to have captured his imagination in those early days of his quest. But, as the author points out, he went beyond Descartes, and ‘Iqbal found in the German philosopher Nietzsche’s “Self-expression”, through extroversion of the will [emphasis mine], to be the most plausible way out of doubt about the integrity of Self. But he went further than Nietzsche by interpreting self-assertion as life in action.’

In these brief lines we come upon one of the most serious problems the practitioner of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga faces, also in quest of ‘the integral Self’, in a sense. The problem lies precisely in the area of ‘extroversion of will’, as quoted above. Put another way, the self-assertion which comes into conflict with a poise facilitating action-in-non-action; or else, when to act, when to exert the will in a process of transformation which considers ‘all life is yoga’, in Sri Aurobindo’s words. The true Kshatriya is precisely one who has mastered this very complex balance of energies. He or she becomes the divine Warrior, the Hero who has the awakened Agni in his heart and follows that ‘divine Will working in the world’.

‘…Thus Iqbal’s exaltation of heroes, who transcend mundane existence by self-assertion: Muhammad, Krishna, Nanak, Mian Mir, Hali, Tippu Sultan and Hardyal. Like Nietzsche and Bernard Shaw, he believed in the Superman.’
  Thereafter the reviewer dwells on the ‘contradictions’ whereby these exalted perceptions on which the poet sought to base his political action, failed to establish the Utopia of his vision in Pakistan. He promoted the idea of a separate homeland for the Muslim minority, and no doubt was one of the most influential voices for this to come to pass nine years after his death in 1938. Iqbal passed away just when the Second World War was to begin.

The Nietzschean influence on his concept of the Superman is clear. Mulk Raj Anand quotes Iqbal as justifying the Superman’s ‘revolt’ as a necessary ingredient in the quest for self-assertion, ‘…For without rebellion he cannot attain selfhood,’ and that even Satan is great ‘…because he is a rebel, despite his evil motives’.

Interestingly, this poet-inspirer of what came to be known as Pakistan was truly the voice of the Rajas guna divorced from her other companions in the Divine Lila or Cosmic Play; just as that country arose in the portion of the symbol-map properly designated as Rajas.

The ‘rebellion’ Iqbal extols is one of the signals that the vital ego is the seat of the will and that the ‘still, small voice’ of the soul is silenced in one’s inner recesses by the turbulence which forces the divine Will to be subjugated to the dictates of this human aberration. Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga provides a means to discover that ‘integral Self’ Iqbal sought. But this discovery does not drown the finer aspects of the being in the clammerings of our self-assertive human will. The gnostic Superman is not a product of self-assertion but rather of the birth of the One in his or her hidden recesses of being, of Agni – the divine Will working in the world.

 

I have quoted an important passage from Sri Aurobindo’s The Human Cycle on page 18 ‘…For (Germany) had said, like the Asura, “I am my body, my life, my mind, my temperament,” and become attached with a Titanic force to these; especially she had said, “I am my life and body”, and than that there can be no greater mistake for man or nation….

This poise Sri Aurobindo describes as the Titan’s, who identifies with his external being, is, lamentably, all too accurately portrayed in the crystal of the shadow-temple in Auroville. Upon it, transparent and void, are projected precisely those surrounding things external to itself – just as described above of the ‘mistake’ Germany made in its quest for its nation-soul. What, then, are the consequences for India to have at the centre where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother established their work this ‘symbol’, fashioned in Germany, of the Titanic superman rather than the Gnostic?

Let us continue with our analysis and fearlessly examine the effects of this remarkable evidence of ‘the symbol being the thing symbolised’.

 

 

July of 1993

Aeon Centre of Cosmology

at Skambha