A spiritual traveler in quest of Truth eventually comes to recognize that the Truth is Eternal and Universal; however the Truth revealed is utterly personal. This is because the pursuit of spirituality is subjective and so are his realizations and revelations. The readers are cautioned that the following narration is subjective for the obvious reasons. References are included for the universality of perspectives.
Even though, there are two anklets worn by Mira, the soul rhythm of collective oneness of their multiplicity in actuality simply makes them unified anklet! May we aspire for such purity of being and action.
Human civilizations around the world from time immemorial, has created superb poems and deeply moving songs of love that have brought to the countless eyes tears of joy when it is about union of two in love and tears of sorrow when it is about their separation.
However, songs of devotion arising from the soul’s infinite longing to divine in the form of prayers, bhajans, ghazals, rubaiyat, thumri, abhangas, and chants, which are supplicating and sublimating have inspired mankind and brought humanity closer to the fount of Bliss. This is a transition of passion and romance between a man and his sweetheart to serene and profound soul quest full of uplifting love as it unites a man with his Beloved–the Divine.
Such aspirations transcend the boundaries of time, cultures and regions as evident from the short list of some of the well known Indian Bhaktas such as Narad, Prahalad, Sabari, Draupadi, Radha, Jnanadeva, Namdev, Tulasidas, Chaitanya, Tukaram, Kabir, and Mira. Similarly Sufism has been the devotional-spiritual backbone in the present day Islamic region of Middle-East for centuries and Persian mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi and Omar Khayyam are internationally renowned exponents. All Bhaktas’ universality of human aspirations, devotions, and adorations is indicative of the innate goal of oneness through different paths, diverse pursuits, and various quests. After all, “Unity is the eternal truth of things, diversity a play of the unity.”1
The Nature created overwhelming diversity in matter, life, and mind to explore vast variety of options and to explore their outcomes in Its single-minded pursuit of evolution. At mental level diversity was the result as well as the cause of division, multiplicity, and egoistic individual tendencies. Instead of addition of complexity, sophistications and refinements in our world, with the intriguing freedom of choice accorded to humanity by the divine will, we promulgated endless variations based on divisional diversities. Consequently our cultures, our value-systems, and pursuit of religions became contentious and confrontational. Their outcomes have been devastating. Suddenly safety, stability, and sustainability increasingly became significant for mere survival. Significance of long-time neglect of role of psychic, soul, and spirit has emerged to be of paramount importance to the humanity’s future to enable enduring spiritual progress as opposed to focusing on the transient success geared for instant gratification now and here. The required emerging paradigm is to spiritually transform and to supercede transitional evolutionary man before the mankind self-destructs itself violently or due to irrational and abnormal over indulgence. Yoga is a means to achieve this objective.
Yoga means to unite. Yogins by definition are devotes and seekers of the Truth. Their knowledge is by identity, as they follow the path of willing surrender, steadfast offering, and utter self-consecration. Yogins ardently seek oneness with the Divine as their Supreme-Beloved. In their pursuits love, lover, and Beloved all are in unison. Being honest in thoughts and sincere in actions, enable Yogins to be selfless, which is a pre-requirement to unify as a boundless drop merging into a boundless ocean.
It is not surprising that both Bible and Savitri have emphasized that “Only the pure in soul can walk in light.”2 At dawn of the human civilization, it is through the tapasya- askesis, one became universal and then in unity with inner-being, cosmic-self, and the supreme Transcendental-divine one derived the mysterious spiritual knowledge by identity. The ancients Rishis of India knew this through their individual subjective realizations with drushti and shruti and they collectively collaborated to expound. Their revelatory compendium became Vedas and Upanishads.
Raj Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga are well established pathways to find divine but invariably in these systems the path is extremely long, journey is arduous, and challenges seem insurmountable or unending; all of these require many lifetimes of cumulative efforts for a meaningful quality and quantity of achievements for soul to significantly evolve. Sri Aurobindo tells us about the process pursued by Rishis,
“In the Vedic idea of the revelation there is no suggestion of the miraculous or the supernatural. The Rishi who employed these faculties, had acquired them by a progressive self-culture. Knowledge itself was a travelling and a reaching, or a finding and a winning; the revelation came only at the end, the light was the prize of a
final victory. There is continually in the Veda this image of the journey, the soul’s march on the path of Truth. On that path, as it advances, it also ascends; new vistas of power and light open to its aspiration; it wins by a heroic effort its enlarged spiritual possessions.”3
Sri Aurobindo unequivocally emphasizes,
“(Nay, then,) is immortality a plaything to be given lightly to a child, or the divine life a prize without effort or the crown for a weakling? Strive rightly and thou shalt have; trust and thy trust shall in the end be justified; but the dread Law of the Way is there and none can abrogate it.”4
As dire these statements are they were never meant to discourage a true seeker. In fact, the truth-seekers are greatly encouraged,
“Whosoever is weary of the littlenesses that are, whosoever is enamoured of the divine greatnesses that shall be, whosoever has any glimpse of the Supreme within him or above him or around him let him hear the call, let him follow the path. The way is difficult, the labour heavy and arduous and long, but its reward is habitation in an unimaginable glory, a fathomless felicity, a happy and endless vastness.
Find the Guide secret within you or housed in an earthly body, hearken to his voice and follow always the way that he points.”5
In Kali Yuga, the humanity was given the Boone of Bhakti Yoga to find the Supreme in a relatively shorter time with a few essential requirements. In Gita, at the end of Dwaper Yuga and before the commencement of Kali Yuga Lord Krishna lauded the sacred significance accorded to Yogin. It has become the genesis of the God-intoxicated Bhakti:
“The Yogin is greater than the doers of askesis, greater than the men of knowledge, greater than the men of works. …; But even among Yogins the greatest is the Bhakta. Of all Yogins, he who with all his inner self given up to Me, for Me has love and faith, him I hold to be the most united with Me in Yoga.”6
A Bhakta is blessed with the divine grace; he does not have to know the complexities of the world to manage and master numerous affairs and phenomena of the life. All that is required of him is that he honestly, sincerely, unconditionally, unreservedly, and integrally offer himself with devotion in seeking union with the Divine, to strive to unify and to be one with the Beloved; Divine carries the load of his salvation, progress, and the process of unification. The guiding light is- “Thy goal, the road thou choosest are thy fate.”7 According to the teaching of Upanishads, “This understanding is not to be gained by reasoning nor by tapasya nor by much learning, but whom this Self chooses, to him it reveals its own body”8. Sri Aurobindo points out, “When your consciousness embraces the Divine, then you can know what the Divine is, not before. … only to see him, meet him, feel the Light, the Presence, the Love and Ananda is what matters. So it is always for the spiritual aspiration – it is the law of the spiritual life.”9
Mira’s anklet is a symbol of oneness in relation achieved through Samarpana-devotional surrender; it represents Mira’s union with Lord Krishna and furthermore, it represents anklet’s unity with Mira who is immersed in the utter devotion to her Beloved–Lord Krishna. The anklet’s rhythm and Nad-jingles of bells are but the expression of progressively transcending unification of matter-human-divine. Here not surprisingly, human (Mira) is devoid of typical calculative mind and self-absorbed vital. This has a great spiritual significance. Sadly, all Divine-seeker are not free from the pythonic grip of self-centric mind and vital like Prahalad, Sunashepa, Janaka, Yajnavalkya, Radha, and Mira. It is enriching to have likes of Mira and other saints who from time to time renew our hopes and felicity of soul-devotion.
After Mira almost half-a-millennium later, during the Cellular Transformation, not surprisingly the Mother had found Mind and Vital to be barrier but Cells (Matter-Physical) to be utmost sincere, willing, eager, steadfast, and supple. Sri Aurobindo had paved the pathway for the pending Cellular Transformation with the Mind of Light. These two developments have paramount bearing on the route of transformation for the inclusion and exclusion of the constituting components in the next transformative phase from man to superman and ultimately to the Supramental Being for which the dual Avatars had come to only evolutionary spiritual habitat-Earth in the Universe.
Sri Aurobindo interlinks past and future of humanity to help us comprehend mystery of man’s existence and successive evolution on evolutionary earth:
“If Matter and Life had not already been ensouled, man could not have appeared or only as an intervention or an accident, not as a part of the evolutionary order.”10
“The soul is not bound by the formula of mental humanity: it did not begin with that and will not end with it; it had a prehuman past, it has a superhuman future.”11
“The universal Man, the cosmic Purusha in humanity, is developing in the human race the power that has grown into humanity from below it and shall yet grow to Supermind and Spirit and become the Godhead in man who is aware of his true and integral self and the divine universality of his nature.
The individual must have followed this line of development; he must have presided over a soul-experience in the lower forms of life before he took up the human evolution: as the One was capable of assuming in its universality these lower forms of the plant and animal, so must the individual, now human, have been capable of assuming them in his previous stages of existence.
He now appears as a human soul, the Spirit accepting the inner and outer form of humanity, but he is not limited by this form any more than he was limited by the plant or animal forms previously assumed by him; he can pass on from it to a greater self-expression in a higher scale of Nature.”12
An uplifting and alchemic synthesized perspective about the role of Bhakti as the integral aspiration in evolutionary transformation with Supermind is explained by Sri Aurobindo,
“To become one in our absolute being with the ineffable Divine and in the manifestation a free movement of his being, power, consciousness and self-realising joy, to grow into a divine Truth-consciousness beyond mind, into a Light beyond all human or earthly lights, into a Power to which the greatest strengths of men are a weakness, into the wisdom of an infallible gnosis and the mastery of an unerring and unfailing divinity of Will, into a Bliss beside which all human pleasure is as the broken reflection of a candle-flame to the all-pervading splendour of an imperishable sun, but all this not for our own sake [but] for the pleasure of the Divine Beloved, this is the goal and the crown of the supramental path of Yoga.
This change is a thing in Nature and not out of Nature; it is not only possible, but for the growing soul inevitable. …The supramental Yoga is at once an ascent of the soul towards God and a descent of the Godhead into the embodied nature.
The ascent demands a one-centred all-gathering aspiration of soul and mind and life and body upward, the descent a call of the whole being towards the infinite and eternal Divine. If this call and this aspiration are there and if they grow constantly and seize all the nature, then and then only its supramental transformation becomes possible.”13
Sometimes, some things just seem to come to us from the far off regions of the sublime consciousness and project them on to our consciousness unplanned by us but they take us along an odyssey to discover ethereal Beauty and to experience alchemic Bliss to unite us with the Shangrila of our aspirations where Bhakti-Love is Divine and Divine is Love.
In India, Radha is the supreme symbol of Samarpana-Bhakti-devotion to Lord Krishna. She was absolutely consecrated to Krishna without reserve and in the psyche of India she is one with Krishna for ever, such that they are addressed in unison as Radha-Krishna. With utmost of reverence, human Radha is accorded permanently the adoration as Empyrean Radha with Krishna in his Celestial Abode–Vainkuth. On earth referring to her cherished place Madhuvan (Brindavan) a very popular song conveys that Madhuvan mein Radhika nache reh, Girdharki muraliya baje reh. (When Radha dances in Madhuvan, right away Shree Krishna starts playing his flute!) After all, this is incredible India where, “If the Bhakta seeks and yearns after Bhagavan, Bhagavan also seeks and yearns after the Bhakta.”14
Subsequent to Radha there are numerous Bhaktas such as Jnanadeva, Chaitanya, Kabir, and Mira to inspire us, guide us, and enable us to find the truth of our being and to live with the guidance of our evolving psychic being.
Mira’s Hindi bhajans (devotional songs) have become everlasting expressions of Indian spirituality and culture. They transcend the regional boundaries and diversities of India. A few of them are noted below to reveal their universality and innate unity with the Supreme through adoration, sublimation, and consecration. They are like waves of an ocean: unique and individual but always one with the vast ocean surrounding them:
• Bandhi ghungharu aaj Mira nachi rey …
=> wearing anklet Mira dances today
• Na mey janu aarati bandhan, na poojaki rit …
=>I am unaware of the traditional lamp ceremony, custom of ritual prayers
• Ari mey to prem diwani, mera prem na jane koi…
=>Hi! I am intoxicated with devotion, nobody understands my love
• Mane chakar rakho ji…
=>Make me your servant-slave
Mira was a queen in Rajasthan, utterly devoted to Lord Krishna, and in his bhakti she renounced all the worldly ties and status. Her soulful devotional songs still move the hearts of generations of Indians for over 500 years. Such alchemic effect of Mira’s dancing with anklet in ecstatic union with Lord Krishna is envisioned in this narration.
The jingles of anklet and the rhythm of dance of Mira invite us to shade the burden of our ego-self and to discover and be one with our inner being, to progressively live in the guiding light and serene delight of our psychic being and for our soul to gradually and progressively transform our being by sublimation in the crucible of life and in pursuit of the sunlit path to be His minded, and His to be eventually one with Him. This is an enchanting invitation to aspire to ascend by being honest, sincere, and persistent and to surrender all the parts of individuality to the inner being for sublimation. The call is to strive to reject physical, vital, and mental urges and demands of desire, ego, ignorance, inertia, and blind affinity to past practices opposing progress and transformation. The objective is for descend of the Divine Consciousness to bring about serenity, equanimity, harmony, beauty, stability, sustainability, and the delight of Truth.
May the rhythm of dance of unification widen our being, infuses the calm intensity of surrender, and brings forth the smile of soul that cheers up clouds in the sky and flowers in the garden. May the Bhakti progressively raise individual consciousness to invoke the Cosmic Lords Mitra, Varuna, and Bhaga to liberate us from the bounds of our shallow selves, and bestow benevolently perpetual rapture that is vast with no horizon.
One may find oneself immersed in the bliss of devotional environment in contemplating Bhakti song-dance of Mira who has infused the land of India with her everlasting spiritual force. All it takes is becoming one with Mira consciousness or for that matter Radha-Krishna consciousness; it invariably transcends time and space. As a catalyst they are the wonderment of power of Bhakti. Mira’s devotional singing and dancing became her hallmark of Bhakti. Bhakti-delight is the incomparable delight that fulfills heart and quenches soul. This bhakti enables self-surrender and self-actualization. It progressively leads to the union of an individual soul of a Bhakta with the supreme Transcendent.
As a lamp helps light up another lamp, I grew up in the devotional culture infused with Tagore’s Gitangaliand The Gardener and Mira’s Bhajans. They un-intrusively led my psychic and soul aspiring for the Divine with unanticipated experience of the trinity – beauty, delight, and spiritual truth in the Mother’sPrayers and Meditations and Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri and Collected Poems. Following quotations of Sri Aurobindo are an illustrative sample of the flickering flame of mine as a bhakta. As personal as they are, however, more accurately and appropriately they are essentially universal in their appeal and they invariantly remain relevant beyond the boundaries of time as they are but whispers of a Bhakta’s expressions arising from the depth of his soul:
“At last I find meaning of soul’s birth …
Aspiring beyond heaven to Krishna’s feet.”15
“My life is a meteor-dust of His flaming Grace.”16
“My life is a throb of Thy eternity.”17
“Life’s now the Ineffable’s dominion;
Nature is ended and the spirit alone.”18
“I have drunk the Infinite like a giant’s wine. …
I am no more a vassal of the flesh,
A slave to Nature and her leaden rule;
I am caught no more in the senses’ narrow mesh.
My soul unhorizoned widens to measureless sight,
My body is God’s happy living tool,
My spirit a vast sun of deathless light.”19
“My soul shall be as one breath with thy soul and thy infinity around thee,
And shall quiver into the vision of thy beauty and the marvel of thy sweetness.”20
“I have offered up my will to be Thy will:
Let nothing of myself be left behind
In our union mystic and unutterable, ….
Keep only my soul to adore eternally
And meet Thee in each form and soul of Thee”21
We may not fully fathom this mystery of Bhakti but one can experience it deep within, as Prahalad did even before he was born to experience the omnipresence of the Divine in all. Although Gita provides the level setting for our expectations, “Rare is the great soul whom all is the Divine Being.”
One of the significant aspects of Bhakti-Yoga is that it is not for fanatics. Further more, Bhakti-Devotion deals with and seeks Ananda or Delight, or Bliss as soul and psychic experiences and it has absolutely nothing to do with mental, vital, and physical cerebral or sensory pleasures.
Bhakti-Yoga is founded on Ananda as envisioned in Vedas and Upanishads. “The creative poise of Sat-Chit-Ananda, the supreme creative Reality, is in Ananda. It is from the world of Ananda that the birth of the worlds takes place.”22 Upanishads have proclaimed that, “From Delight all these beings are born, by Delight they exist and grow, to Delight they return.”23 “The world lives in and by Ananda. From Ananda, says the Veda, we were born, by Ananda we live, to Ananda we return.”24 Sri Aurobindo emphasizes, “To seek for delight is therefore the fundamental impulse and sense of Life; to find and possess and fulfill it is its whole motive.”25 It inspires the Bhakta to seek harmony and bliss in union with the Divine but has acceptance of others with diverse believes. As a spiritual man, he always remains a Bhakta, a seeker of truth, vast, and right along with love, beauty, and bliss. The following words of Sri Aurobindo enlighten us about the spiritual man and on the mystical aspect of delight, the Lord and a seeker. They guide us in our thinking, belief, attitude, and conduct as a spiritual man:
“For the spiritual man the mind’s dream of perfect beauty is realised in an eternal love, beauty and delight that has no dependence and is equal behind all objective appearances;
its dream of perfect Truth in the supreme, self-existent, self-apparent and eternal Verity which never varies, but explains and is the secret of all variations and the goal of all progress;
its dream of perfect action in the omnipotent and self-guiding Law that is inherent for ever in all things and translates itself here in the rhythm of the worlds.”26
An individual would experience exquisite beauty and serene delight that has foundation of Universal oneness. Experiences vary with each individual but the delight of it is always enriching, uplifting, and bringing us ever so close to Lord Krishna when we merge in His Lila. After all, Divine is the sole Reality-Existence-Truth, “All He loves, all He moves, all are His, all are He!”27
According to Sri Aurobindo, Ahana is the Dawn of God, the embodiment of the power to fulfill luminous hopes and aspirations. This is Ahana’s declaration:
“Come then to Brindavan, soul of the joyous; faster and faster Follow the dance I shall teach thee with Shyama for slave and for master, – Follow the notes of the flute with a soul aware and exulting, … Take thy place in the Ras and thy share of the ecstasy after.”28
When I visited Sistine Chapel in Rome, like everyone else, I was awestruck by the beauty of famous fresco ceiling painted circa 1511 by Michelangelo. In The Creation of Adam section God’s right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from His finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God’s, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). Adam’s finger and God’s finger are not shown touching thereby the artist conveyed that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam and Adam is receiving. This depiction of man and God link is true to the prevalent Christian religious views where as an anonymous spiritually realized Vaishnava artist’s depiction of Dandia-Ras of Gopies with Lord Krishna is revelatory. In this painting Lord Krishna is dancing in a big circle in a pair with each Gopi simultaneously and there are quite a few of Gopies. This is a revelatory depiction of Lord Krishna’s multiplicity in His eternal and universal form with each Gopi where He belongs to her fully as her dance partner. Yes, the Truth is Universal and Eternal but utterly personal too! This rendering is so beautiful, so elegantly simple and so true!
The multiplicity and diversity of One that is Universal and Eternal is expressed as the following four fundamental realizations in Vedas and Upanishads:
1. NITYO ‘NITYÂNÂM, the One Eternal in many transient.
2. CHÉTANAS CHÉTANÂNÂM, One Consciousness in many Consciousnesses
3. SO ‘HAM, He am I
4. AHAM BRAHM’ ÂSMI, I am Brahman the Eternal
These four realizations reveal ONENESS of and with the Divine and diversity as His Maya to experience and manifest delight in diversity. Mira’s anklet symbolizes, human devotion into matter that is charged with the aspirations, adoration, and submission to the Lord Krishna for the Oneness that is ever lasting Bliss.
1. Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1981, p. 35.
2. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vols. 33-34: Savitri — A Legend and a Symbol, p. 448.
3. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol.15, The Secret of the Veda, p.10.
4. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 17. The Hour of God – The Way, p. 40.
5. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol.12, Essays Divine and Human, p. 353.
6. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 19, Essays on the Gita, p. 246.
7. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vols. 33-34: Savitri — A Legend and a Symbol, p. 458.
8. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 23: Letters on Yoga, p. 608.
9. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 23: Letters on Yoga, p. 610.
10. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 18-19: The Life Divine, p. 761.
11. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 18-19: The Life Divine, pp. 760-761.
12. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 18-19: The Life Divine, pp. 759-760.
13. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol.12, Essays Divine and Human, pp. 364-365.
14. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vols. 23-24: The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 32.
15. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (Krishna), p. 150.
16. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (The Bliss of Brahman), p. 158.
17. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (Bliss of Identity), p. 142.
18. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (Liberation), p. 159.
19. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (Transformation), p. 133.
20. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (In a mounting as of sea-tides), p. 597.
21. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (Surrender), p. 153.
22. M. P. Pandit, Legends in The Life Divine, p. 35. Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1994
23. Taittiriya Upanishad, 3.6.
24. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol.12, Essays Divine and Human, p. 205.
25. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol. 18-19: The Life Divine, p. 219.
26. Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vols. 23-24: The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 26.
27. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (Krishna), p. 590.
28. Sri Aurobindo, SABCL, Vol.5, Collected Poems (The Descent of Ahana), pp. 549-550.