Thoughts and Aphorisms – Bhakti – 1

My inaugural aphorism in the series I refer to in my earlier post.

The T&A book by Sri Aurobindo is a slim one but packed with nuggets of convention busting power. There are thoughts here that would alarm the bearers of tradition and structure. For any one who holds an elevated position in an illusory scheme of society, these words, of someone who actually did the Yoga rather than spout words, will not be comfortable. Anyway…

“I am not a Bhakta, I am not a Jnani, I am not a worker for the Lord. What am I then? A tool in the hands of my Master, a flute blown upon by the divine Herd-Boy, a leaf driven by the breath of the Lord.”

Commentary

Sri Aurobindo’s approach to Yoga was direct and action oriented, rather than be guided by theory or a specific system. This often reveals itself in the light he throws upon even the most common aspect of yoga. India has been the land of Bhakti. The likes of Adi Shankara or a Patanjali, epic intellects and giant souls each, have limited reach to the soul of this nation. It is the likes of Chaintanya, Jayadeva, Meera or the countless other illumined souls that throb with the rapture of an other-worldly delight that holds the attention of this land.

There are many who would interpret our emotionalism as excessive and without restraint. We cannot, it seems, hold ourselves back from expressing ourselves. You see it around you everyday- the shouting, the gesticulation, our politicians, our movies!

But this same emotion, when purged of egoism and tempered with the single pointed desire of the Divine, becomes illumined and suffused with delight. This delight knows no system, no theory, no formal axioms upon which it proves its case. Delight is self-existent, it is its own justification. It is perhaps the same spirit that makes a child play with some abandoned boxes, worthless in our clouded eyes but instruments of impossible fantasies in the child’s mind and heart.

Perhaps, it is this that Sri Aurobindo refers to when he says that he is neither a Bhakta or a Jnani or one who follows the path of Karma. The system of Yoga, the 4 or 5 or how many every streams are mere categorizations of a vast body of spiritual knowledge. A man made taxonomy to comprehend and manage this secret science. But the truth, the living body of Yoga is beyond any taxonomy that is defined by the human mind. It is to this that Sri Aurobindo draws our attention. The system is not the Thing. It is not the Divine. It is the action done that draws Him closer to us, action under whatever system.

And note the way he answers question on what he is, after denying he falls under any of the systems, ‘A tool in the hands of my Master, a flute blown upon by the divine Herd-Boy..’. Lets get to the poetry of this prose later, for now check those lines again. What I see is a perfectly understanding surrender, in calling the divine as Master. When all is yielded to Him – thoughts, emotions, actions, desires. When every impelling has its root in him. But this might seem a very lopsided arrangement to some. How, why should my ego yield thus, some have said. To act without knowing consequence, such a heresy not to plan and know!

‘..a flute blown upon by the divine Herd-Boy..’. Here the distant Master is gone, no more the high impeller of our puny lives, in his place we have the Beloved, the most desired Paramour, the hearts only longing. We have the divine Herd-Boy, Sri Krishna, who in his play has spun this illusion to fritter a little of his eternity away. A little game to keep him occupied. And guess what, he has shared his secret with us, we too are in on the key, on the fact that this is just a game. And he plays his music through us. Not a distant action but intimate. More intimate than all the embraces and the utter self-giving of any mortal companion.  And all this with no external system or contraption to support it. Within yourself, without a scaffolding, without props, just you and He.

I did not intend the commentary to be this long, let me know if I should keep this short, sorry!

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