Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Van Vrekhem’s child-like approach to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Yoga of Self-perfection PREMA NANDAKUMAR
BEYOND MAN —Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother: Georges Van Vrekhem; Rupa & Co., 7/16, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110012. Rs. 395. Originally published in Dutch, an English version of Beyond Man was brought out by HarperCollins in 1997. The present edition is an exact (and perhaps photographic) reprint. Some spelling mistakes have been set right.
Ten years ago it was very refreshing to read Van Vrekhem’s child-like approach to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The same holds true today as we turn the pages steadily to learn about these two brilliances who brought back the Vedic spirit of exploration to our days with the promise that life on Earth can definitely be transformed into the life divine.
Beyond mind Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), poet, patriot, translator and journalist, dedicated his life to the yoga of Self-perfection. A Vedic scholar, his insights assured him that mankind which had evolved from matter through life to mind was now poised for another breakthrough beyond mind. What kind of new creation would be this “supramental” being? He did not elaborate but gave convincing leads referring to the intuitive and illumined flashes that raise man’s reception beyond the mental plane. The Mother (Mirra Alfassa, 1878-1973), occultist and artist came to India in March 1914, met Sri Aurobindo and decided to pursue his yoga which chimed in with her own reflections on man and future man.
Most of the followers of Aurobindonian yoga simply accept them as incarnations of the Divine. A few have reservations. Should we call them a dual power? Was the Mother a disciple of Sri Aurobindo or his equal? And what is this “Supermind”? Despite Sri Aurobindo dissuading his disciples, the questions persisted. Apparently they continue to, as we can notice from the tenor of Beyond Man. Fortunately, Van Vrekham is not interested in polemics.
Laboratory of Yoga The Ashram was certainly a laboratory of Yoga. The aim was “to transform and immortalise the material body” and of course, this is not achieved in one day! And the higher the aim, the greater the impediments from “asuric” forces. The times were also confounding because of the World War and India’s own struggle to become independent. However, the yogic force of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were not used in vain, and all was fairly well with the world in general and India in particular when Sri Aurobindo attained Mahasamadhi.
But the “sadhana” continued and the Mother extended the Ashram’s aegis in terms of an International Centre of Education and Auroville. These were her ways to express to the world the Supramental Truth about man’s future. Having lived in Auroville for decades, the author has not only read a lot but “listened” to an assortment of voices. As an Aurobindonian poet wrote at that time: “A light is lit in everyone, and those/ emblazon the Living Flame.” The Aurobindonian yoga being a collective yoga, this conclusion is inevitable. Having listed the questions, Beyond Man signs off with the seal of faith: “The Great Change in evolution is happening around us and within us, whether we want it or not.” For a world caught in despair and defeatism, this is nectarean hope. The Hindu Book Review Tuesday, Aug 14, 2007

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