Editor’s note: We feature this insightful writing from Amal Kiran in which he makes some perceptive comments on the Mother’s Message of April 24, 1957. This was first published in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram journal, Mother India: Monthly Review of Culture. The following version is excerpted from Sethna’s book titled, ‘ The Vision and Work of Sri Aurobindo’ (published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publications Department; 2nd edition, September 1, 1992).
We have made a few formatting revisions for the purpose of this digital presentation without changing the original text.
This Message of the Mother —
“In the eternity of becoming, each Avatar is only the announcer, the forerunner of a more perfect realisation” (CWM, Vol. 15, p. 185) —
has prompted in some minds the question: Is the work of establishing the Supermind on earth not the work of the culminating Avatar, not the fulfilment of earth-existence but only a step further, like so many earlier steps, on an endless path where every realisation proves to be imperfect in comparison to what comes after it?
Behind this question there are a number of misconceptions. It is indeed true that no end can be set to the Divine’s manifestation on earth. If the Divine is the Infinite, then His manifestation can never be exhausted: depth after depth must keep disclosing itself.
When the Supermind, the Vijnana-plane, has established its splendour amongst us, it will serve as the beginning of a movement towards establishing the wonder that is the Transcendent Bliss, the Ananda-plane. After that, other secrets of the Supreme will work out their revelation.
But we must not overlook a great difference between the Supermind’s manifestation and the manifestation of divine powers that have preceded it. And we must not omit to note that the Mother’s Message, in its complete form, has a second sentence running:
“And yet men have always the tendency to deify the Avatar of the past in opposition to the Avatar of the future.”~ CWM, Vol. 13, p. 22
This sentence makes us throw a glance backward at man’s spiritual history and it suggests in relation to the Supermind the error of sticking to past realisations as if they were ultimate instead of preparatory of the Supermind’s epiphany.
The opposing tendency spoken of can take two forms. One is to deny the supramental revelation and make a jealous cult of what Rishi and Saint and Prophet have taught in ages gone. The other is to consider this revelation of today nothing save the old truth retold in novel terms and therefore fit for acceptance by those who like novelty but not imperative for acceptance by all.
Of course, as we have said, the supramental realisation also is not final. And the Mother’s second sentence does not imply its finality. But by the word “past” contraposed to the word “future” it brings the generality of the first sentence to a certain particularisation which, without making a fresh fetish of today against tomorrow, flashes out the need of opening the eyes to the new Day of God that has dawned.
The New Day of God
The new Day can be seen in proper focus by divesting the epithet “supramental” of all looseness of significance. Every Yoga has sought for what is “supra”, or superior, to the mental. But Sri Aurobindo attaches a special meaning to the epithet he has brought into use. People not intimate with his thought understand by it one of two things.
Either they apply it to an infinite and eternal Silence exceeding all cosmic activity and making the whole cosmos seem an inexplicably created enigma that has no basic reality. Or else they apply it to a spiritual Force beyond the mind, standing against the background of that Silence and governing its own creation, this universe in which the souls of creatures rise from birth to birth but in which, despite all spirituality, a certain imperfection is inherent and irreducible.
The first conception culminates in a sense of māyā, World-Illusion; the second in a sense of līlā, World-Play. But both point in the end to a fulfilment above the earth—the one to a merger in the sheer Absolute, the other to a heavenly abiding within the Godhead.
According to Sri Aurobindo, the Supreme is totally defined by neither of these conceptions. Each has certainly a validity in experience.
The sense of World-Illusion comes by experience of the utter freedom of the Divine from the universe of forms, an entire independence that can be asserted by turning away from the phenomena of body, life and mind as if they were trifles and even phantoms adding nothing to the essential self-existence of the Spirit.
The sense of World-Play comes by experience of a constant sustainment of phenomena by that self-existence as if they emerged from its own being and lived by its conscious force and expressed, overtly or covertly, its boundless delight.
But the Supreme, for Sri Aurobindo, is not only the utter freedom above cosmic existence, not only the inalienable divine presence within the cosmos and the Lord and Lover of it: He also renders possible a fulfilment of the terrestrial adventure in its own terms of mind, life and body.
The Supreme holds a divine mentality, a divine vitality, a divine physicality awaiting to manifest by a descent from above where they stand in open glory and by an emergence from below where they lie hidden in the profundities of all that appears the very opposite of the Divine.
The Supreme, as unfolding from His absolute freedom this threefold Truth of Nature and dynamising this Truth in an evolutionary self-expression, is the Supermind.
Godlike Evolution in the Most Literal Sense
By the Supermind a godlike evolution in the most literal sense can result: the formation of an earthly being who by his very nature shall be free from ignorance, incapacity and the deathward movement that is all embodied life at even its most powerful.
Once the Supermind is realised on the earth we have no longer a disparity between Spirit and World. Nothing of Here and Now will fall short of the Divine who is infinite and eternal. The division of basic reality from phenomenon, of the Creator from the creation, will be abolished without putting away form and becoming.
Thus a radical change will take place which will distinguish the supramental realisation from all others. Hence to say that this realisation is not final is never the same thing as to say that the realisations before the Supermind’s advent are not final but part of an endless process of world-perfection.
As Sri Aurobindo puts it, there is conversion before the Supermind and progression after it.
Until the supramental change has occurred, something of the phenomenal and the created remains imperfect and needs to be converted. With the occurrence of that change, what remains is only the inexhaustible exploration of the perfect: what remains is the “more perfect” in the sense of more quantity, as it were, of the perfection hidden in the Divine and not the “more perfect” in the sense of a superior quality.
After the supramental realisation the Divine cannot be diviner but He can still be various and show design on miraculous design of ordered flawlessness in an eternity of becoming.
This fact should also clarify the problem of Avatarhood.
Avatarhood, essentially manifesting the supreme Godhead, takes place from various planes of being by an incarnation of the central Divine Personality poised on a plane.
It can take place from the Mind plane to establish the rule of an ideal and Spirit-touched Dharma answering to the finest mental aspiration; or from the Overmind plane to bring a many-sided direct impulsion from a spiritual state that is vaster than the mental and beyond all merely ethico-religious rule.
Again, it can take place straight from the supreme Truth-Consciousness, the Supermind, where the ultimate marvel of the Transcendent is organised for time-creation and the all-transformative archetype of earth-existence is dynamic.
The Avatarhood from the Supermind carries not only in the inward but also in the outward the utter Godhead. And all potentialities of future Avatarhood are continuous with those which it manifests and come out not so much from a higher plane as from a plane in its own background.
A new form or incarnation for a new manifestation is no longer a necessity. It is the intuitive inkling of this absence of further embodiment, rather than the anomalous idea of putting a term to the Infinite’s manifestation on earth, that has led Hinduism to speak of Kalki as the last Avatar.
~ Design: Biswajita Mohapatra and Beloo Mehra