Author: Beloo Mehra (2020). Published under the title ‘When Young India Awakes’ in Sri Aurobindo’s Action, Vol. 51 (2 & 3), February-March 2020, pp. 16-21
CONTINUED FROM Part 13b
(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
Growing up in a Hindu family, he like many others he knew, had sort of taken for granted that there is this concept of Avatara, but he never really asked himself if he really knew what this means. This type of ignorance is pretty common in his generation of Indians, Yuvaan now understood. What is more interesting is, he thought, that for most people it doesn’t even matter that they don’t know such fundamental things about their religious and cultural heritage. Doesn’t this ignorance take us away from our roots, he wondered. He felt so grateful that he had discovered Sri Aurobindo’s writings which were slowly helping him get in touch with the beauty and richness of his Indian-ness.
He read a bit more.
“The Gita accepts the human Avatarhood; for the Lord speaks of the repeated, the constant manifestation of the Divine in humanity, when He the eternal Unborn assumes by his Maya, by the power of the infinite Consciousness to clothe itself apparently in finite forms, the conditions of becoming which we call birth. But it is not this upon which stress is laid, but on the transcendent, the cosmic and the internal Divine; it is on the Source of all things and the Master of all and on the Godhead secret in man. It is this internal divinity who is meant when the Gita speaks of the doer of violent Asuric austerities troubling the God within or of the sin of those who despise the Divine lodged in the human body or of the same Godhead destroying our ignorance by the blazing lamp of knowledge. It is then the eternal Avatar, this God in man, the divine Consciousness always present in the human being who manifested in a visible form speaks to the human soul in the Gita, illumines the meaning of life and the secret of divine action and gives it the light of the divine knowledge and guidance and the assuring and fortifying word of the Master of existence in the hour when it comes face to face with the painful mystery of the world. This is what the Indian religious consciousness seeks to make near to itself in whatever form, whether in the symbolic human image it enshrines in its temples or in the worship of its Avatars or in the devotion to the human Guru through whom the voice of the one world-Teacher makes itself heard. Through these it strives to awaken to that inner voice, unveil that form of the Formless and stand face to face with that manifest divine Power, Love and Knowledge.”[i]
Wow! Another great explanation of such a deep thought – the relation between the human Avatarhood and the eternal Avatar, the God in man, and how the divine consciousness within guides the human begin toward a higher path. The inner, deeper significance of the outer forms and practices that most Indians take for granted – worship of different deities in temples, the rich expressions of bhakti that he experienced and witnessed in the temple here in Dwarka – all that was now slowly getting infused with such clarity of meaning and purpose. Yuvaan’s heart was full of great gratefulness toward the Master. He was opening this amazing world of knowledge for him, knowledge which Indians had inherited from their ancestors but had somehow forgotten. He read again what Sri Aurobindo said about the Indian religious consciousness! His eyes welled up as his mind fully understood what the words were expressing.
Yuvaan was enjoying this slow, patient, reflective reading. He didn’t feel any need to rush through the pages, he wanted to savour every word and really understand the idea being conveyed. He now came across a remarkable passage on the way the Avatar works and moves the world forces.
“Where the action pursues its natural course or the doers of the work have to suffer at the hands of its enemies and undergo the ordeals which prepare them for mastery, the Avatar is unseen or appears only for occasional comfort and aid, but at every crisis his hand is felt, yet in such a way that all imagine themselves to be the protagonists and even Arjuna, his nearest friend and chief instrument, does not perceive that he is an instrument and has to confess at last that all the while he did not really know his divine Friend. He has received counsel from his wisdom, help from his power, has loved and been loved, has even adored without understanding his divine nature; but he has been guided like all others through his own egoism and the counsel, help and direction have been given in the language and received by the thoughts of the Ignorance. Until the moment when all has been pushed to the terrible issue of the struggle on the field of Kurukshetra and the Avatar stands at last, still not as fighter, but as the charioteer in the battle-car which carries the destiny of the fight, he has not revealed Himself even to those whom he has chosen. Thus the figure of Krishna becomes, as it were, the symbol of the divine dealings with humanity.”[ii]
As Yuvaan continued to read further, he understood that Arjuna, the human disciple, is a representative man of his age. He receives his initiation on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, he is the type of the “struggling human soul who has not yet received the knowledge, but has grown fit to receive it by action in the world in a close companionship and an increasing nearness to the higher and divine Self in humanity.”[iii] When Arjuna is overcome with dejection and sorrow at the most critical moment of his life, he raises a fundamental question regarding human life and action, a question that confronts every human being at some point of time, in varying intensity.
Seeing his cousins, uncles, grandfathers, gurus and elders all lined up against him in the battlefield, Arjuna is confronted with some practical questions regarding his duty as a Kshatriya, the duty to fight the enemy. He is also faced with the question of his right as a prince, the due right to his kingdom. All he sees is an unsurmountable conflict between his right and duty on one side and Dharma on the other. Led by this sense of utter disgust, dejection and revolt, he declares, “I will not fight.”
Sri Aurobindo helped Yuvaan understand that Arjuna’s crisis is not the questioning of the thinker.
“It is the sensational, emotional and moral revolt of the man hitherto satisfied with action and its current standards who finds himself cast by them into a hideous chaos where they are in violent conflict with each other and with themselves and there is no moral standing-ground left, nothing to lay hold of and walk by, no dharma. That for the soul of action in the mental being is the worst possible crisis, failure and overthrow.”[iv]
Yuvaan’s query was now satisfied. He was grateful to have discovered Sri Aurobindo’s work ‘Essays on the Gita’ which logically and rationally was slowly revealing to him how the whole teaching of the Gita revolves around this original crisis of Arjuna, a very practical crisis in the application of ethics and spirituality to human life.
He had completely lost track of his time, and when he looked at his phone it was after 6 in the evening. He decided to walk to the Sunset Point and have a darshan of Bhadkeshwar Mahadev at the seacoast. He was also looking forward to his visit to Somnath the next day.
Yuvaan’s yatra continues in part 14….coming up soon!
[i]ibid, p. 17
[ii] ibid, p. 18
[iii] ibid, p. 20
[iv] ibid, pp, 25-26