On 24 November 1926, Sri Aurobindo experienced the descent of Sri Krishna into his body ( the very physical).
He explains, "The descent of Krishna would mean the descent of the Overmind Godhead preparing, though not itself actually bringing, the descent of Supermind and Ananda." The 24th November is called Siddhi Day or Victory Day. In this paper we wish to understand the meaning of "descent of Krishna consciousness into the physical", why is it needed to descend, and what happened in the ashram on 24th November 1926.
Sri Aurobindo in his epic poem Savitri says –
“No will can take away and doom change,
the crown of conscious immortality,
the godhead promised to our struggling souls
when first man’s heart dared death and suffered life.”
Now, how does Man put on the ‘crown of conscious immortality’ and who shall show us the path?
Our ancient and traditional Yogas have thrown significant and sufficient light on the path that we have to tread. What our beginnings through ‘traditional’ Yogas, had so far achieved indeed were very great and profound, yet they fell short of the Grand pinnacle( if there is at all a last pinnacle in this pilgrimage). Our rishis and rishis like Agastya and Lopamudra did lament about the recalcitrant obstruction that they endlessly faced at the root of ‘life and mind’ .They had recognised the magnitude of the work needed to be done. The need was not only to climb to the Light of the ‘Truth Consciousness’ but also ( and this is important) to bring the Sun down into the cave of Night ( the darkness covered by darkness)where the Vritas steal and hide by obscuration the Light- as the Vedic rishis would describe. Here, the Vedic Sun "Surya" is the body of Truth that is Light.
But how shall this be done? The process and method had to be found. This was the mission Sri Aurobindo took upon himself. He started this task at Pondicherry (1910) where he came, based on the adesha from Sri Krishna while he was at Chandannagar. The Mother joined him( in 1916) as collaborator in this unfinished Vedic agenda. He through relentless sadhana realised that the Vedic darkness can only be neutralised if matter revealed the Godhead embedded in it. If the पुरुष of the पुरुषसूक्तम् (Purusha Sookta) is to manifest, his “feet the ( matter) has also to be divinised” ( says KD Sethna) . Because the Truth held in Matter was not yet manifest- but “ The music born in Matter’s silences…
The meaning it had held but could not voice;” ( Savitri P 89). Sri Aurobindo knew the goal - the Matter must be divinised. But he had to find the best path, the means and the instruments needed to hew the path, the purification and perfection of the parts of the being ie the cleaning the instruments and clearing of the path such that the outgrowths removed once, do not re-grow again.
At one stage he has said in Savitri –
"ingrained impurities had to be removed from their bleeding roots".
This precisely was what the Mother had also said to Satprem. No luminous ascent to bring down something that has never been brought down, can ever take place without ceaseless toil. There are no short cuts in such an uncertain and unchartered jungle. The descent of power will always be in proportion to the ascent that man has made. A Force or Power had to be brought down that maintains its purity and integrity without being defiled in the process of descent into the Inconscient. No Power other that that of the Highest can retain its integrity here down under. This Power is what the Vedas named as Rit- Chit . Sri Aurobindo in absence of any better had, named it as Supermind. The Supramental descent and its manifestation on earth is the key. All the previous ascensions have taken place by the emergence of the Consciousness-Force from the Inconscient and then through the Ignorance. The superior powers emerging, found corresponding subliminal formations in the Nature that helped their flowering. But beyond those, so far formulated powers, newer formulation in the subliminal was needed to support any higher ascent. This Power had never been brought down by our rishis though they knew about it and had expressed through the Upanishads the need for such a power. Or may be it was not yet time then for mankind to undertake such an adventure of consciousness. We know that all the other spiritual peaks prior to these like Higher mind, Illumined mind, Intuitive mind has already been reached and consolidated - no small ascent by the human race.
But Sri Aurobindo aims higher. He says in the Secrets of the Veda:
“Substance of being, light of consciousness, active force and possessive delight are the constituent principles of existence; but their combination in us may be either limited , divided, hurt… or infinite, enlightened, vast... Limitation is mortality; immortality comes to us as an accomplished self-possession in the infinite and the power to live and move infirm vastness.”
He again says in the Life Divine:
"It is a first condition of this change that the mental Man we now are should become inwardly aware and in possession of his own deeper law of being and its processes; he must become the psychic and inner mental being master of his energies, no longer a slave of the movements of the lower Prakriti, in control of it, seated securely in a free harmony with a higher law of Nature.” (Page 957)
So the next action thereafter would be to step beyond Intuitive plane and step into Overmind and then to Supermind. As the overmental gets established in the nature there will be a deepening, heightening and widening effect. Obviously, it is natural to expect that however slowly the evolution proceeds , eventually the climb to the overmind level could and would take place without a descent . This will be the method the Nature has used over the aeons .Sri Aurobindo says:
“…our terrestrial Nature might succeed in entering into a close contact with the higher now superconscient planes and a formation of subliminal Overmind might take place behind the veil”.
But this natural process may take a long long time. But how long, how long the Mother Earth should wait for us. Should the mankind not aspire for quicker solution. And again it is quite possible that, at the end of the long duration endeavours, human race may not reach at the intended goal but only at a better and higher mentalised state. “For a real transformation there must be a direct and unveiled intervention from above; there would be necessary too a total submission and surrender of the lower consciousness, a cessation of its insistence, a will in it for its separate law of action to be completely annulled by transformation and lose all rights over our being.” The insurmountability of the difficulty is conceivable. But a decisive action was necessary. Therefore is the need for ‘center of action’ in the terrestrial domain from where the action can commence with necessary missionary will, sincerity, dedication, commitment and surrender.
Thus started the climb up the ‘Hill of God’.
When the progress dictated seclusion, Sri Aurobindo stopped meeting sadhaks except on four days in a year. He was being helped by small group of disciples for his day to day needs. He had to ascend without anyone other than the Mother knowing it.
“Alone he moved watched by the infinity
Around him and the Unknowable above.” ( Savitri 96)
To greater and greater heights ( sanei sanei aruhat) he strived to climb.
In 1920 he wrote to his brother Barin that he was sure about the destination and the path that he had chosen was correct. What he wrote was:
"The inner guide, the Universal Teacher, showed me my path entirely. All its essence is contained in the ten limbs of the yoga. For the last ten years (1910-1920) the Divine has giving me the experience of that element and developing it in me, though the work is not yet finished... Without reaching the Supramental it is impossible to know the ultimate secret of the world. The riddle of the world cannot be solved without it. But its attainment is not easy. After fifteen years, I am just now rising to the lowest of the three layers of the Supermind and trying to draw up all my movements into it. But when the siddhi is complete, then there is no doubt that the Divine will give the Siddhi of the Supermind to others through me with very little effort. Then my real work will begin. I am not in a hurry to accomplish my work. I do not want to jump into the field of action, like a mad man running hither and thither, with the power of his petty egoism. This work is not mine, it is the Divine's. I do not want thousands or lakhs of disciples. It would be enough if I get a hundred men free from their petty egoism and ready to work as the instruments of the Divine. "What can an imperfect man going in the midst of imperfect men achieve?”
There are two very important revelations – one that he by then had already attained the third poise of the Supermind that he has described in detail in his ‘The Life Divine’; the other that the path of attainment of the Supramental what needs to be followed by later sadhaks who are open to this path would be much easier than the path of ‘Aurobindonian Yoga’ that was originally followed by
Yet another seemingly ordinary six years had to elapse before the very significant mile stone in his journey was attained. Those days there used to only 24 sadhaks in the ashram. When the sadhana for the descent of the Supramental was going on the Mother finally joined him at Pondicherry on 24 April 1920, and Sri Aurobindo had said after meeting her that he not seen such a surrender to the Divine earlier. Along the sides, after the Mother joined the Sadhana, few lady disciple also joined the ashram. Gradually the work intensified. There were days when the regular talks in the evening generally held at half past four,were being held very late into night ( once at two clock past midnight), and talks veered mostly around Supramental descent.
Sri AB Purani writes that:
the beginning of the year 1926 saw a significant withdrawal of Sri Aurobindo and proportionately the load on the Mother for helping the sadhana of the sadhaks increased. Sri Aurobindo was not at all in hurry, he knew that every inch of darkness had to be cured. In one of his evening talks he had hinted that the resistance to the Divine Light in reaching the human cell was stupendous and that he was engaged in that work.
Sri V Chidandan who had first met Sri Aurobindo in 1920 and then after 6 years in 1926 very beautifully describes his first meeting in 1926 as:
“So in the beginning of 1926 I decided, “Sri Aurobindo is my Guru”. But I asked myself, “Will he accept me as his disciple?” With trepidation I proceeded to Pondicherry and sought an interview with the Master, which he readily granted. I wondered at the great change in his physical appearance since I had seen him last. His complexion was fair, and his body had filled out. Spiritual fire shone through his eyes. I remembered the epithet in the Mahabharata describing the eyes of the Tapaswins as ‘durniriksya’, unseeable. (Later I saw it was not always so. Usually it was a soft and gentle light like the stars.) I told him the purpose of my visit.
When he consented to accept me as his disciple, I felt myself blessed.
The exact chain of event on that day has been documented by very few of 24 disciples who were present in the ashram that day, notably only by Sri AB Purani , Sri Barindranath Chaki, Rajani Patil,Rajarangam, Jaya Devi and Champaklal. Some interesting details are quoted below.
Sri Rajani Palit narrates his recollections:
"On the 24th at about 4 p.m. I had gone to the Ashram and was meditating in Bejoy Nag’s room… A great Power was trying to descend but it seemed to me that I should be broken into pieces—so intense was the pressure of the Higher Force over my head and so great the resistance in my head. The result was that I could not receive the Power, although I tried to do so. At about 5 p.m., Amrita was called upstairs and he came down with the Mother’s express direction that all the disciples were to assemble in the upstairs verandah for Sri Aurobindo’s blessings. As soon as I heard this I went to Barinda’s room and told him that the long expected Descent must have taken place.
The Mother’s wishes were communicated to all the disciples including those staying in the Guest House. But many had gone out to the sea-side for their evening stroll and some had gone to play football. So messengers were sent to call them and, when all of us had assembled in the Ashram, we went upstairs at about 6.30 p.m…. On the wall, near the central door, was hung a black silk curtain with a Chinese Dragon in gold lace-work. The bent-wood chairs in which we used to sit for meditation were all removed and replaced by mats spread on the floor. Absolute silence prevailed and the verandah was full of Spiritual Light.
Automatically we got into a state of meditation, waiting for the arrival of the Master. A few minutes after, at about 7 p.m., the door behind the curtain opened and the Mother and the Master appeared—the Master with his majestic gait and the Mother in her queenly bearing. The Master was dressed in a silk dhoti and chaddar, and the Mother in a silk sari. The Master took his seat in his usual low cushioned chair and the Mother on his foot-rest which was placed on this day a little to the left.
The Master looked absolutely grand, omniscient, omnipotent, Samrāt, as if the Emperor of the Universe, head lion-like, eyes wide-open as if looking from far beyond, detached yet supporting the entire universe; absolutely powerful, yet compassionate and kind to all, the supreme Godhead, absolutely Svarāt, one who had conquered himself entirely and had established his Ananda and light in every part and each cell of his body, from head to foot, his whole body radiating light and love and bliss to all creation.
The Mother was the embodiment of Love, Compassion, Purity, Beauty, Youth, Grace and Rhythm. She also looked majestic, her beaming eyes full of compassion for the earthly creation, Mother of the universe, Shakti of the Master.
It was a very auspicious day, since on this day Sri Krishna, who is the Anandamaya and who supports the evolution, descended into the physical. Sri Aurobindo embodied the Supreme Godhead on this day.
The Master held out his left hand a few inches above the head of the Mother and he blessed the disciples who had assembled with his right hand as they bowed down to him and the Mother, one by one; some of his disciples bowed more than once.
There was absolutely no talk, no sound. Neither the Mother nor Sri Aurobindo spoke a word, the atmosphere was charged with utter calmness and peace and bliss, perfect silence reigned throughout the function. Then after about half an hour or so, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother withdrew and went within.
Now Datta came out, inspired, and declared, “The Master has conquered death, decay, disease, hunger, and sleep. We were spellbound and unable to move for some time. We felt as if we had been transported to heaven. Then we came downstairs, probably one by one.
Regarding myself, I spoke to Barinda for a special interview with the Mother, since the Pressure was very great, more than I could bear. The Mother saw me at about 9 p.m. and I bowed down to Her and told Her about my difficulties. She assured me that it would be o.k. and blessed me.
Then there was the usual distribution of “Soup” by the Mother. ‘Sri Aurobindo “retired” either on the following day or one or two days after. (Mother India Dec 1962)
Dr. K. Rajangam writes:
24th November 1926 was indeed a glorious day. It was the day of the descent of Sri Krishna Consciousness into Sri Aurobindo. I still remember Dutta exclaiming as if in trance: He has conquered Life. He has conquered Death. He has conquered All. Krishna the Lord has descended!’ ( Breath of Grace , MP Pandit)
Datta spoke: Krishna the Lord has come. He has ended the hell of suffering. He has conquered pain. He has conquered death. He has conquered all. He has descended tonight bringing Immortality and Bliss. As each one made pranAm to the Mother and she gave her blessing, Sri Aurobindo held his palm above hers in blessing. I was the only person to do pranAm to both. It was a spontaneous movement; something in me rushed out and made me do it.’( Champkalal Speaks)
Jaya Devi remembers: ‘On November 24 a little before evening all the sadhaks were asked to assemble. One after another we trooped to the upper hall. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother blessed us all with both hands. I was told: “Mahashakti, the Supreme Consciousness-Force, has descended into Sri Aurobindo.” I could myself see light and glory bursting out of his body.’ ( Vignettes of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother by Shyam Kumari)
And finally we come to the Mother’s own recollections about the eventful date 24 November 1926: He [Sri Aurobindo] called everyone together for one last meeting. He sat down, had me sit next to him, and said: “I called you here to tell you that, as of today, I am withdrawing for purposes of sadhana, and Mother will now take charge of everyone. You should address yourselves to her. She will represent me and she will do all the work”… These people had always been very intimate with Sri Aurobindo, so they asked: “Why, why, why?”… I had no intention of explaining anything and I left the room with him, but Datta began speaking… She said she felt Sri Aurobindo speaking through her and she explained everything: that Krishna had incarnated and that Sri Aurobindo was now going to do an intensive sadhana for the descent of the Supermind; that it meant Krishna’s adherence to the Supramental Descent upon Earth and that, as Sri Aurobindo would now be too occupied to deal with people, he had put me in charge and I would be doing all the work.’ (The Mother : The story of her life by Georges Van Verkhem)
That is how, had concluded the events of 24th November 1926 which was yet a pre-cursor to a new beginning .
“On a height he stood that looked towards greater heights.”