Author: Beloo Mehra (2020). Published under the title ‘When Young India Awakes’ in Sri Aurobindo’s Action, Vol. 51 (1), February-March 2020, pp. 16-21
CONTINUED FROM Part 13a
(The February-March 2020 issue was a double issue, so Yuvaan’s story also ran longer than earlier issues. The whole story published in Feb-March 2020 issue is presented here on matriwords in three parts – 13a, 13b, and 13c.)
CHAPTER XII – Continued
Yuvaan was speechless as he looked in those wide, clear eyes full of love for the Lord. He wondered for a second if this is what Love for the Divine does – makes one so simple, so honest.
“But wait, I remember something…once in a while my brother shares with me some things that he has been reading…things he feels I might appreciate…now what was it…yes, I remember.
“Others boast of their love for God. My boast is that I did not love God; it was He who loved me and sought me out and forced me to belong to Him.”[i]
“Isn’t that something? Ram told me that Sri Aurobindo had written this around 1913 or 1914, which is after he had moved to Pondicherry and after his prison experience with Sri Krishna.”
“I have been slowly reading and learning about him, I have only read a little about his prison time….”
“Oh, you must read this one speech he gave…. the one after he came out of the prison.”
“You mean the Uttarpara speech, right?”
“Yes, yes…that’s it. My brother literally forced me to read it…but I am eternally grateful that he did that.”
“Yes, it is very powerful. I read it about a month back…but maybe I need to read it again to truly feel the force of these words…”
“Sure, why not? … May I ask you something,” Yuvaan asked hesitatingly.
“How, … I mean, why did you come and sit by me in the temple?”
“Oh…that,” Gopal’s full-hearted laughter made the family sitting at the adjacent table look in their direction.
“You looked so calm sitting there with your eyes closed, like a young brahmachari trying to meditate…but something about you also told me that you had not eaten anything since morning, so I felt like feeding you, …this is something I like to do once in a while when I see some pilgrims at the temple who for whatever reason intrigue my curiosity. That’s all, I don’t think too much before doing this type of thing, not that I do it every day…. just whenever my heart compels me…. You see, my mother always taught me that offering food to someone is the best and most honest offering one can make to the Divine.”
“That’s nice, I mean, really nice. And what great food it is…it is almost as if your mother cooked this sumptuous meal for me.”
“That’s a lovely thought. She would be happy when I will tell her…she is now 75 years old and mostly spends her time at the temple or at home…her eyesight is almost gone, so she doesn’t cook anymore….that’s enough talking for the day, I need to rush now, I have to go to work.”
“Sure… what do you do?”
“I run a school for the underprivileged kids, … mostly the children of housemaids and servants come there for some book learning, some vocational training… Meera Vidyalaya…that’s my mother’s name, Meera.”
“But wait… let me give you my number. If you are here for a few more days, come to my home, meet my mother and also my brother Ram. He is at Somnath, he goes there every month, but will be back after a couple of days. I think you will enjoy talking to him, he is the scholar in the family.”
“Somnath…I was also thinking of going there, in fact I was thinking of leaving this evening…”
“Go tomorrow morning…it will be better…listen, I have to rush now, but call me this evening and I can help you with the arrangements.”
“Ok, I don’t have any set plan, I will leave tomorrow morning as you say…and yes, will definitely call you. And thank you so much for the great breakfast…and for making my morning even more special,” Yuvaan felt the words come out of his mouth in all sincerity.
Later he would recall how simple and true his own words sounded to him. That’s the effect of being around someone who is true and sincere, he would later reflect.
With a deep sense of gratitude filling his heart, Yuvaan walked the streets just taking in the morning life of the people in this holy town. For some reason, even the market chaos felt peaceful to him. He found it enlightening how the commerce of life in the town mostly revolved around the Dwarkadhīsh temple and the Lord Himself.
Back in his hotel room, later that afternoon, Yuvaan pulled up the e-book “Essays on the Gita” on his phone.
“The teaching of the Gita must…be regarded not merely in the light of a general spiritual philosophy or ethical doctrine, but as bearing upon a practical crisis in the application of ethics and spirituality to human life. For what that crisis stands, what is the significance of the battle of Kurukshetra and its effect on Arjuna’s inner being, we have first to determine if we would grasp the central drift of the ideas of the Gita.”[ii]
He was intrigued by the phrase “practical crisis in the application of ethics and spirituality to human life.” He recalled what his grandmother once told him a few years back when he had asked her why she read the Bhagavad Gita again and again. Gita, she said, is one of those rare scriptures in which we can find the deepest and lasting solutions to most of our life’s day-to-day problems. But when Yuvaan had laughingly challenged her, she simply added that the solution lies in sincerely practicing the teaching of the Gita, not just studying it like any other book. He was mildly intrigued but left it there.
But now he wanted to know more, feel more.
“India has from ancient times held strongly a belief in the reality of the Avatara, the descent into form, the revelation of the Godhead in humanity. In the West this belief has never really stamped itself upon the mind because it has been presented through exoteric Christianity as a theological dogma without any roots in the reason and general consciousness and attitude towards life. But in India it has grown up and persisted as a logical outcome of the Vedantic view of life and taken firm root in the consciousness of the race. All existence is a manifestation of God because He is the only existence and nothing can be except as either a real figuring or else a figment of that one reality. Therefore every conscious being is in part or in some way a descent of the Infinite into the apparent finiteness of name and form.”[iii]
If every conscious being, as per this view, is in part a descent of the One Infinite Reality into the apparent finiteness of name and form, is there any difference between an Avatara and all the other forms, Yuvaan’s mind wondered. But he just had to read a bit more. The difference, as Sri Aurobindo explained in the very next sentence, is the key to understand the concept of Avatara.
“But it [a conscious being] is a veiled manifestation and there is a gradation between the supreme being of the Divine and the consciousness shrouded partly or wholly by ignorance of self in the finite. The conscious embodied soul is the spark of the divine Fire and that soul in man opens out to self-knowledge as it develops out of ignorance of self into self-being. The Divine also, pouring itself into the forms of the cosmic existence, is revealed ordinarily in an efflorescence of its powers, in energies and magnitudes of its knowledge, love, joy, developed force of being, in degrees and faces of its divinity. But when the divine Consciousness and Power, taking upon itself the human form and the human mode of action, possesses it not only by powers and magnitudes, by degrees and outward faces of itself but out of its eternal self-knowledge, when the Unborn knows itself and acts in the frame of the mental being and the appearance of birth, that is the height of the conditioned manifestation; it is the full and conscious descent of the Godhead, it is the Avatara.”[iv]
Yuvaan was deeply moved by what he just read. Such an amazing and rich explanation! Even on an intellectual level, he felt, these words satisfied his curiosity so wonderfully. He had to slowly and carefully read the whole passage a couple of times, and pay close attention to really follow the deep thought being expressed, but it was deeply satisfying.
To be continued…in part 13c
Have you read part 13a?
[i] CWSA, Vol. 12, p. 481
[ii] CWSA, Vol. 19, p. 13
[iii] ibid, pp. 13-14
[iv] ibid, p. 14