• 20 Jul, 2024

Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo

Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo

Few know or understand the spiritual relationship that Maharishi Sri Aurobindo had with Sri Krishna. This article explores this very special and profound aspect of Sri Aurobindo's Yogic life.

One the Avatar of the past and the other believed by many to be the Avatar of the future. The work began by one being carried to its natural culmination and manifestation, by the other. One opening the overmental and through that the passage to Anandmaya and the other carrying on the work by opening the supramental, in the natural evolution and ascent of consciousness.

The intimacy and identification between Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo and the role played by the former in the latter’s sadhana in not generally well known. It is known that it was on Sri Krishna’s adhesh that Sri Aurobindo went to Chandernagar and latter to Pondicherry but Sri Aurobindo’s reliance and surrender to the inner voice and presence of Sri Krishna is of much earlier time. We get the indication of the same, when in 1906, while leaving Baroda for Calcutta, Sri Aurobindo asked Vishnu Baskar Lele for instructions, in carrying on the yoga. While Lele was giving the instructions, a mantra rose in the heart of Sri Aurobindo, which he narrated to Lele. Lele after reflecting a moment asked Sri Aurobindo (in Sri Aurobindo’s own words)  “whether he could surrender himself entirely to this Inner Guide within him and move as it moved him”, and on Sri Aurobindo reaffirming the same, Lele stopped giving further instructions and said that no further instructions were required from Lele or anyone else. 

As Sri Aurobindo says, “This Sri Aurobindo accepted and made his rule of sadhana and of life”, and further, “This henceforth became the whole foundation and principle of Sri Aurobindo’s Sadhana.” This inner voice, presence and guidance, he later identified as Sri Krishna’s and whom he declared to be the guide of his yoga.

Asked by a disciple as to why he chose Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo replied: “I could not question. It was Sri Krishna’s Adesh. I had to obey. Later on I found it was for the Ashram and or the work.” 

In 1908 when arrested and sent to prison, Sri Aurobindo was shaken in faith and it was the voice from within that reassured him. In the famous Uttarpara speech, Sri Aurobindo says: ”When I was arrested and hurried to the Lal Bazar hajat I was shaken in faith for a while, for I could not look into the heart of His intention. Therefore I faltered for a moment and cried out in my heart to Him, “What is this that has happened to me? I believed that I had a mission to work for the people of my country and until that work was done, I should have Thy protection. Why then am I here and on such a charge?” A day passed and a second day passed and a third, when a voice came to me from within, ”Wait and see.” Then I grew calm and waited. I was taken from Lal Bazar to Alipore and was placed for one month in a solitary cell apart from men. There I waited day and night for the voice of God within me, to learn what I had to do. In this seclusion the earliest realisation, the first lesson came to me.”

It was in Alipore jail that Sri Krishna gave him the Gita’s teaching. To quote Sri Aurobindo, “Then He placed the Gita in my hands, His strength entered into me and I was able to do the Sadhana of the Gita. I was not only to understand intellectually but to realise what Sri Krishna demanded of Arjuna and what He demands of those who aspire to do His work, to be free from repulsion and desire, to do work for Him without the demand for fruit, to renounce self-will and become a passive and faithful instrument in His hands, to have an equal heart for high and low, friend and opponent, success and failure, yet not to do His work negligently.” 

It was here in jail that Sri Aurobindo had one of his four great realizations, the realization of the Cosmic Consciousness. As he says, “So it was arranged, (permission to walk outside his cell) and it was while I was walking that His strength again entered into me. I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell, but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover.”

………….”When the case opened in the lower court and we were brought before the Magistrate, I was followed by the same insight. He said to me, ”when you were cast into jail, did not your heart fail and did you not cry out to me, where is Thy protection? Look now at the Magistrate, look now at the Prosecuting Counsel.” I looked and it was not the Magistrate whom I saw, it was Vasudeva, it was Narayana who was sitting there on the bench. I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for the prosecution, that I saw; it was Sri Krishna who sat there, it was my Lover and Friend who sat there and smiled. “Now do you fear?” He said, “I am in all men and I overrule their actions and their words. My protection is still with you and you shall not fear. This case which is brought against you, leave it in my hands. It is not for you. It was not for the trail that I brought you here but for something else. The case itself is only a means for my work and nothing more.” 

The intimacy and identification Sri Aurobindo had with Sri Krishna is further brought in a number of letters he wrote to his disciples. In a letter dated 14.08.1945 to Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “If you had an unprecedented peace for so long a time, it was due to my persistent inner pressure. I refuse to give up all the credit to my double, Krishna.” 

Then again in another letter dated 18.06.1943, he wrote: “I thought I had already told you that your turn towards Krishna was not an obstacle. In any case I affirm that positively in answer to your question. If we consider the large and indeed predominant part he played in my own Sadhana, it would be strange if the part he has in your sadhana could be considered objectionable. Sectarianism is a matter of dogma, ritual, etc, not of spiritual experience; the concentration on Krishna is self offering to the ista-devta. If you reach Krishna you reach the Divine, if you can give yourself to him, you give yourself to me. Your inability to identify may be because you are laying too much stress on the physical aspect, consciously or unconsciously.” 

Here it may be pertinent to quote a letter of the Mother’s dated 11.07.1933 to an aspirant: “The struggle in you (between bhakti for Krishna and the sense of the divinity of the Mother) is quite unnecessary for the two things are one and go perfectly together. It is he who has brought you to the Mother and it is by adoration of her that you will reach him. He is here in the Ashram and it is his work that is being done in this Yoga.” 

Also revealing is the following passage from Champaklal Speaks, a book by Champaklal, one of the earliest disciples of, and personal attendant to, Sri Aurobindo: “Kamala’s brother Mahesh had come with me in 1923. Obviously we both came for the same purpose, but I found a difference in Sri Aurobindo's way of dealing with us. To me he was speaking and guiding me in his Yoga but to Mahesh he talked of bhakti and upasana [worship] of Sri Krishna. Later I found out that Mahesh was intensely drawn to Sri Krishna and his path was different from mine. One day, however, he expressed his difficulty in reconciling his adoration of Sri Krishna with his surrender to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo told him: “There is no difference between Krishna and me.”

To be continued.

[This article has been edited for Satyameva. We were unable to find a link to the original – Ed.]

Editorial Team

Written, collated or presented by the team of editors at Satyameva

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