Biographies

 

NATARAJA GURU AS I KNEW HIM

 

This section contains recollections of Nataraja Guru, written by various disciples.

These are written by the individuals in question and may or may not conform with what this website represents:

 

1) G. Khan.

 

2) Nitya Chaitanya Yati.

 

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CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT

 

IN INDIA AGAIN

 

While we three passengers (Céline, Romarin and myself) were getting used to the crowded accommodation available in the SS Cambodge - which was far from being a luxury liner, carrying thousands of passengers each time back and forth from the Far East to France - our thoughts still lingered on the friends who would be wending their way to Alma's place in the south of France.

 

 

I forgot to mention that we had passed a few days in the same place en route for Marseilles during which a happy event took place which brought together two souls who had long been waiting to be united as husband and wife. I found myself sitting at the same table with these two persons during the fraction of a day that remained for us before driving down to the docks of Marseilles. They were there, unable to make up their minds - like many characters in Molière's plays with long-drawn-out love affairs, not ending well as they ought to; but with the clever insight of some bright servant-girl the love-torn couple is finally able to solve their problem. Here there were the same two aching hearts involved, wanting something to happen by way of initiative.

 

 

The Tao by itself seemed to be helpless and seemed to be calling piteously for an instrument which, like Arjuna in the Gita, was to be an incidental and indirect cause only. There are many situations in life in which even the most neutral of individuals may be called upon to play, consciously or unconsciously, this incidental, instrumentalist role.

 

 

I shall not mention the names of the persons involved in case the subtle and occasional factor might have again misfired after all. I was, however, motivated by the best of intentions when I suddenly had the bright idea of asking the man if he wanted to marry the girl and, with equal directness, put the same question in reciprocal form to the girl. I took the hand of the girl and put it in the hands of the man and that was that. I have never been quite sure whether what I did was right - especially as I hear that the persons are not living together - but who knows whether they are not living together in their heart of hearts?

 

 

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WE GET USED TO THE VOYAGE

All this belongs to the great unknown and I was trying to forget it as I was rearranging my trunks under the lower berth of the cabin which had more than four others, mostly Indian students or merchants talking 'très ordinairement'. The dinner bells and crowded dining rooms offered possibilities of contacts with an assorted jumble of persons belonging to different parts of the Near or Far East, and many interesting passing contacts were made.

 

 

The familiar ports of Port Said, Suez and later Aden were passed, which I shall not describe again, having done justice to life in those parts in previous travel accounts. Céline, Romarin and I were found most often on the deck in odd corners; shielding ourselves from the strong winds near anchors or lifeboats; and reading again and again books on modern mathematics, especially that of Edna Kramer, each chapter of which we tried to digest together.

 

 

Céline took the opportunity to join the Cook's conducted tour to Cairo and the Pyramids and Sphinx and joined us at night on November 27th. Aden was passed by the first day of December, and the last lap of the journey began after we left that free port where moneychangers looked contemptuously at Indian currency offered to them by passengers. An elderly Indian in the dining room wanted to have a word with me privately one night after dinner, and sat with me on a deck bench in darkness, making exaggerated expressions of devotion and love. He had criminal lines on his face and this made me hang on to my wallet which, when he noticed, caused him to let me go and never renew his friendship again. My homeward thoughts returned with greater force as we put our luggage together again.

 

 

ARRIVAL AT BOMBAY

We arrived at Bombay at 10 AM, and Nitya, Fred and an interested couple, Mr. and Mrs. Umrolla, contacted by Nitya, who came right into the economy-class cabin below on the prow, made the rest of the harbour formalities quite easy. We did not hurry to join the long queues formed near the first-class lounge, but preferred to wait on the luxurious sofas till the crowds became negligible; and with a young bearded Western saddhu and the ladies being received with bouquets and garlands by various Narayana Guru followers of Bombay, we made a motley and interesting group, attracting all eyes to us for about two hours.

 

 

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It took us nearly till midday lunchtime to extricate ourselves from the mesh of harbour rules and paper or rubber-stamp-made hurdles to human freedom. This kind of self-made barrier of a barbed-wire world is setting its traps or meshes, conferring more and more complicated indignity on the human person each day that modernism progresses.

 

 

A good Marathi-style lunch, served us with kindness by the Kales in their little flat on the fourth or fifth floor of the Reserve Bank quarters of Byculla, Bombay, was the first real contact with India that Céline and Romarin must have made - with the Indian home life of a city at least. The Umrollas also gave us a party a few days later in a more classy section of Bombay where friends met and sipped tea over music and talks on December 8th, 1965. Spirituality, especially Yoga, interested this highly cultivated Parsi couple, and a lasting cultural contact seemed to be made very readily.

 

 

The remaining three or four days that we spent in Bombay were marked by a visit to the Atomic Research Centre at Trombay and parties or receptions given by followers of Narayana Guru settled in different parts of Bombay, between whom bickerings and rivalries had to be glossed over. We had the task of retrieving the Guru's movement, as far as possible, from the mire of social or group considerations into which it had been allowed to bog down. The leaders themselves lacked the proper perspective in such matters, and men of otherwise striking intelligence showed their low level when it came to spiritual matters. Much zeal and loyalty thus washed down the drain. I had a bad tooth extracted and we were group photographed many times before we entrained for Madras at 7 AM on December 9th.

 

 

MADRAS, ERODE, OOTY AND ALWAYE

We stayed in Madras at the big house of Mr. N.C. Kumaran between the 11th and 14th of December, renewing contacts with Gurukula friends and writing revised petitions to the district revenue officers about the grant of the Erode land which was being sabotaged by a woman who at first was interested but became opposed as soon as she found out that she or a relative of hers could not be the sole director of the proposed new centre. These ugly circumstances are better omitted than stated in print. Fred went to Bangalore and we to Ooty on December 14th, 1965.

 

 

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We had only a short stay at Ooty because we had to be at Varkala by the second half of December in view of the arrangements for the annual Gurukula Convention there. We broke our journey at Coimbatore to see the revenue officer about the Erode land again. After a day with Mr. G.N. Rao at Alwaye, bathing in the broad and shallow river there, set in the green undulating country scene of Kerala with its elephants and palms - which was a thoroughly new experience to the two European ladies with me - we reached Varkala itself about noon on December 20th.

 

 

While in Alwaye we visited a big, Spanish-sponsored seminary where European fathers drawn from many parts of the West did mission work. They included many who resembled mystics and true contemplatives rather than zealous or hard and dogmatically-set preachers. We were able to borrow some of the latest volumes on Christian mysticism, science and higher criticism such as those of Teilhard de Chardin, now so popular in the West. The incessant pressure of literature-hunting in view of the big work underway was never relaxed in spite of all these travels.

 

 

BUSY DAYS AT VARKALA

Nothing absorbed my interest or activities at the end of 1965 and throughout 1966 more than the increasing of my inner agony to the white heat required to actually begin and then finish the projected one thousand-page book on the Science of the Absolute. Every minute of my waking hours and most of the subconscious state within light or deep slumbers at night was filled with this non-event of thinking of expressing my thoughts in as clear sentences or paragraphs as possible. The agony of ascent soon attained its peak within me, but the 16th Convention of December 1965 called for some other work connected with fully earthy matters like levelling the hilltop for a future institute of a Science of the Absolute which had to be given its share of attention.

 

 

The pressure of effort was sustained by early morning, afternoon and night readings and discussions in which many, including Céline and Romarin, were regularly present at the site of the Brahmavidya Mandiram itself where a cabin had been made for me with cement floor and asbestos-sheet roofing.

 

 

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I carried my own big box of reference books around and Fred Haas and John Spiers joined the group at Varkala on December 23rd. The Convention programme, waxing stronger each year, began on the 26th; its many items like homam (fire sacrifice), assemblies and meetings, select reunions, classes and consultations going on as a seven days' wonder.

 

 

Public opinion was slowly veering round in favour of understanding what the Gurukula Movement represented, although in the beginning many Narayana Guru adherents were full of mistrust about this movement which they thought was a rival to the mother institution. The relation was, in reality, only that of a complementarity, implying verticalized unity rather than the horizontal principle of contradiction. Such subtleties need much philosophical insight, which one should not expect at once from the masses.

 

 

I lingered on at Varkala till about January 18th, the group having visited Shastangota as guests in the ashram of Kambalath Sankupillay. This ashram was dedicated to the memory of Chattambi Swami with whom Narayana Guru was associated. Another visit took us to Mayyanad at the invitation of Dharmadas of Singapore who intended to open a rather irregularly-conceived branch of the Gurukula, whose character as such we had an opportunity of explaining at a tea party in the presence of a distinguished gathering including ex-ministers of the state.

 

 

IN NORTH-EAST INDIA

We already had an invitation extended to us by the Umrollas of Bombay by which I was to preside at a Yoga Conference at Monghyr organized under Swami Satyananda and Ma Yogashakti. Nitya had arranged our route via Madras and Calcutta, in each of which we had a day to spend on our long railway journey within the peninsula of India. We reached Calcutta on time on the 23rd and had a reception at the railway station given by prominent Calcutta disciples of the Guru. During our one day in Calcutta we were invited to two dinners and two tea parties at the house of a controller of tea and on the banks of the river where we were guests of a high officer in the Admiralty.

 

 

We also visited within the span of this one day one of the most ornate Jain temples that I have ever seen. A Shiva temple would be by contrast austere to the extreme opposite limit. Naked Jain Tirthankaras also resemble Shiva in their common austere touch but, by contrast, this Jain temple reminded me of the pomp and glory of the peak days of the Moghul Empire. The relation between the Moghuls and Jains in North India has always intrigued me. Paraswanath and Padmanath might have had something in common between them.

 

 

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On the night of the 23rd we took the famous No.10 down train which passed along the Gangetic plain with its rich alluvial vegetation. By about 10 AM we reached Monghyr, associated with the terrible earthquake of 1934. Historically the city takes the mind back to the time of Clive and Mir Jaffar when there were intrigues and counter-intrigues between rulers of different dynasties in that part of North India. Rival European nations who claimed supremacy on Indian soil at that very time only added to the confusion. But the Ganges must have said to itself, 'Men may come and men may go but I go on for ever.'

 

 

THE YOGA CONFERENCE AT MONGHYR

 

 

Monghyr.

 

The eldest son of the richest jute mill owner, who was sponsor as well as patron-in-chief of the Yoga Conference, was at Monghyr station (rebuilt in reinforced concrete after the famous earthquake). We drove for more than twenty minutes past Hindu, Islamic and European historical remains. Our host, this rich magnate, had inherited the best part of the palaces of Mir Jaffar situated on the ample terraces bordered by balustrades and overlooking the broad-bosomed Ganga-Mayi (Mother Ganges). Forests of flowers have been thrown into her waters by worshipful saddhus sitting prayerfully on her banks, from distant places such as Hardwar and Rishikesh where her torrential waters first attain the plains, linking  several Indian cultural units into one blended spiritual loyalty. The Ganges has ever flowered here irrespective of the rulers, whether Hindu, Moghul or European.

 

 

We soon accommodated ourselves in an octagonal summer palace said to have been used by Mir Jaffar and built in a modified Moghul style with cypress groves and lawns of a well-kept garden around it, and plenty of chaprasis (servants who are sometimes called bearers), also waiting on us hand and foot, although confused about the proper breakfast they should leave for us. The three or four days that we spent in this Moghul paradise were quite memorable except for the noises that came to us from the combined lunatic asylum and prison for which some of the other ancient buildings were being used to save money for the government.

 

 

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We were driven morning and evening to the corner of the public gardens whose gates opened to receive us each time. Swami Satyananda was given the tail end of the large domain which belonged to the same rich man.

 

 

I had to speak and hold conversations several times on the variety of Yoga that I stressed, which was in many respects different in approach from schools of Yoga that often sporadically sprout in the minds of individual Yoga teachers on the soil of India. In spite of this difference, my long speech on the principal day of the Conference was very well received and translated by the Swami in charge, though interrupted by the funny Monghyr trains which went whizzing past the walls of the Yoga School, hissing as with asthma, spurting off steam now and then as they carried colourful crowds of passengers on their way.

 

 

THE CAPITAL CITY OF INDIA

After this happy interlude in old Monghyr we took the same No. 10 down train about midday on the 29th. We arrived on the wrong platform of the Old Delhi main station. This resulted in a comedy of errors by which we took a taxi and arrived at the Institute of Psychic and Spiritual Research while being followed by Nitya and a group of others who waited for us and received wrong directions - but we met happily and all the ado was soon forgotten.

 

 

For twelve days we were to be the guests of the Psychic Research Institute of which Nitya Chaitanya Yati was the first organiser and director. Although the Institute was said to be government sponsored it had to propel itself by its own steam in its initial stages. To the credit of Nitya it must be said that he handled everything with versatility, grace and originality. It was a brand new building in which the plumbers and electricians were making the last fittings with their bangs and hammerings, and drainpipes passed over stairway-fronts where good tapestries are usually hung. Oh Inconsistency, thy name is architectural originality in India! But nothing matters and we did not care either, not even about the duplication of two costly staircases where one would have sufficed both by logic as well as convenience.

 

 

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The ladies found their accommodation in two corners of the large hall and I settled down in a large carpeted room where the Gita classes were held each day. Nitya had arranged a number of visits to families, mainly of Kerala, but not without including a good proportion of Punjabis and distinguished citizens of Delhi. It was a round of visits each day. The culmination was a talk for which I printed invitations - an élite gathering where intellectuals of Delhi were brought together almost on the last day.

 

 

Meanwhile we did not relax the tense efforts to be able to actually begin the first sentence of the book. The pressure was made to mount each day by our readings over early morning cups of tea 'that cheers but does not inebriate'. Thus we suddenly found ourselves ready to actually pen the first sentence. Well begun is always half done because a bad beginning can always entail endlessly-brewing troubles as the writing proceeds. The first sentence affords a peg on which everything else hangs. Thus we hit upon the short and pithy sentence which by its brevity was the mother of wit. It read, 'Science seeks certitude'. This beginning has augured well for us and has meant smooth sailing throughout.

 

 

ONCE MORE IN THE SOUTH

We entrained for Madras on 12th February, taking the Grand Trunk Express which took two nights. On the second day of the journey we encountered an American pilgrim who was dressed like a Vaishnavite Brahmin of North India and was able to cleverly hide his Yankee origins under his adopted Vishnu worship even to the detail of wearing marks on his forehead. Even the ecstatic singing and chiming and beating of cymbals was not omitted while he sat with other Indian passengers who seemed to take him seriously enough. Céline had an Indian drum, a kind of tambour, which he borrowed so as to keep himself merrier and more ecstatic for the rest of the journey.

 

 

We arrived in Madras Central at about five in the afternoon and our good friends Shanmukham, Sadanandan, and Engineer Kumaran were at the station. The first two offered to guard our luggage while we visited Mr. Kumaran's family. We came back to take the train for Bangalore that night, which luckily came to the same platform at 8 PM. We reached Bangalore Cantonment on the 15th and, after a short stay at Mr. Kumar's reached John's Gurukula, although I went a little later to the Somanhalli Gurukula five miles further on the same road, 18 miles from Bangalore, to stay there till my 71st Birthday on February 18th.

 

 

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This celebration went off with the usual éclat, with several hundred villagers being fed, and terminating with a gathering for a discussion of Vedanta as understood by villagers even in out-of-the-way places. Even without the patronage of universities or governments, this ancient wisdom-tradition seems to persist like the humble plants of the land and has brought its consolations to the philosophically-minded men and women of India from the days of the Upanishads to the present. In this sense India can be said to be chronically spiritual - however low the standard of discussion might be - relieved only now and then by radiant human insight into life. No one who knows about this hidden treasure of wisdom can altogether hate the common Indian people, however steeped in rags or dirt they might happen to be.

 

 

After the Birthday celebrations were over, a party of us, including Céline, Romarin, Prasad and Solomon, took a bus journey via Satyamangalam to Erode. We spent the night at a choultry (resting-house) before reaching our rocky hill site four and a half miles from Erode, where the government was still in the process of assigning to us seven and a half acres of land not far from the confluence of the two rivers, Kaveri and Bhavani. It was situated within easy reach of the most central of railway junctions in the Tamil Nadu of South India. This new Gurukula centre had a special significance, marking the stage of the growth of the Guru's movement from within the limits of Kerala itself where it had hitherto been established.

 

 

We conducted a fire ceremony on the top of the hill on February 25th without much publicity, but unexpected groups came from Tiruchi and other places. A small-scale feeding was also part of the programme, with informal talks by me. Prasad took ill with a high fever so, while the rest of us took a train for Ooty, Prasad and Solomon entrained back to Varkala. We arrived in Ooty on February 26th and soon settled down to the serious work of writing the first pages of the big book on the Guru's teaching.

 

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FORTY NINE

 

THE MAGNUM OPUS AND THE CALL OF THE ISLAND

Authorship involves an inner agony. Before bringing any serious book to light there are birth-pangs and long anterior labours culminating in the event; and during my life I have more than four times experienced this inner tribulation. One is disgusted with one's own thoughts in whatever way one tries to put them. One sometimes begins with wrong starting statements and tries to go backwards or forwards in support of the wrong premises assumed. The pen, when forced, carries on for some time and comes to a standstill like a horse that cannot climb a steep point. One begins all over again, and good pages go into the wastepaper basket for no intrinsic fault of their own.

 

THE TRIALS OF AUTHORSHIP

At last a day comes and the agony is at its peak, when one says to oneself: 'Well begun is half done'. Even such a feeling could again prove to be a false start, and thus by successive efforts the first paragraphs begin to roll with the ease of Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. Even after this beginning has been made the writer has to avoid following wrong tracks or false scents and be careful that he neither says too much nor too little. Deciding this last question he has to be inwardly aware of the work that he proposes to himself as a whole. What one wants to say must avoid the professional hesitations of head-scratching, or verbose vagueness, or padding of unnecessary paragraphs; and one must be conscious of the number of times one is allowed to repeat oneself. Sometimes repetition cannot be avoided and at other times it is an unforgivable vice. Sentences should not be too involved and 'modernism' is not in favour of clichés. One has to decide also how far one errs on the side of journalese or of a rigidly understood academic style. The difficulty of the subject can be foisted by mistake by many readers on the style adopted by the author.

 

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Thus the trials of a sensitive writer, who is neither a journalist nor a man holding an academic post, are difficult, as I realized when, with the help of Céline to read the French books; Romarin to refer to the latest volumes gathered round me; Fred to read out passages in Sanskrit and to finger the brand new typewriter presented to us for this purpose; and Gurukula assistants to read out Malayalam texts - we jointly set our hands to the task of launching the ship on its long voyage.

 

Once launched, the ship went on smoothly as far as writing was concerned, although in the meanwhile a controversial invitation from the Mahé followers of Narayana Guru to install a statue at a temple there disturbed the tranquil progress of the pages that were being finished each day. Bergson's book on Einstein's relativity was a hard nut to crack. My eyesight being feeble, I had not only to make Céline read and re-read it, but rearrange my translated quotations from it several times before I could see the transparency of Bergson's arguments. The Mahé function went off without the threatened conflict between the rival parties and we spent some summer days of April at our embryonic centre in the far north of Kerala.

 

Mid-April 1966 found me with Céline and Fred staying at the Cheruvattur Gurukula. We were still intensely occupied with the chapters of the magnum opus. Romarin had gone away to England at the beginning of April. Although it was still the hot season, I wanted to promote some rice cultivation on the five and a half acres of land at Cheruvattur. In order to encourage the planting of useful fruit trees, which also would shade the ashram grounds just beginning to be laid out as an orchard garden, I stayed there in special sheds put up to receive our party of three by a kind disciple, Narayanan, then Labour Welfare Officer in that area. He and Soman, a contractor, had known me as their headmaster in a High School near Varkala about the year 1938, and both of them lent a helping hand. Genuine old contacts are never lost. Nothing is lost that is precious in the life of an absolutist.

 

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CHALLENGED BY STRANGE CROWDS

Fred Haas was busy typing to my dictation each day while sitting inside the improvised sheds put up in our honour. The midday hours made us take refuge under the shady trees or in the recesses of the thatched sheds, but the work of writing - especially the hard part of getting into the spirit of Bergson's criticism of Einstein - took all the energies of the three of us who sat together and went from page to page, paragraph by paragraph, and even line by line. As my eyesight was fading more and more with cataract trouble, Céline Gevaert had to be depended on to a point of sheer fatigue for the drudging work of reading and re-reading for my benefit. However, we plodded through this task.

 

To add to the heat of the day and the hardship of the work we also had strange groups of visitors from the surrounding countryside who came out of curiosity because of some of the publicity that I had recently received in the local papers. Not a few of them were journalists or those who claimed to know about Indian spirituality or Vedanta. They had mainly been brought up on the cheap literature available in journals on such subjects. Swami Vivekananda's turbaned figure when he lectured in Chicago at the end of the last century afforded almost all of the idioms, ideograms or clichés necessary for them to present as their stock-in-trade.

 

Stock phrases and clan reactions were glibly bandied about and there was much of what we could call 'putting on a big front' or façade behind which nothing genuinely original could be discovered. Much pretence goes on in the name of spirituality in modern India, and most people either play the role of an oracle when they are silent or else blurt out something which, on further questioning, they cannot substantiate. Such empty talk is what is sometimes referred to as blah-blah.

 

There were some who insisted on telling me that if I were a true Guru I should prove it, not by any teaching, but by some psychic or other miracle. They often had their own favourite models of spirituality up their sleeves and were more keen on opposing me for the reason that they could stand on my shoulders to glorify themselves. I found that I could not deal with them in any gentlemanly fashion, and found myself snubbing them like an old schoolmaster - which was a role familiar to me. Somehow I escaped untoward incidents taking place, which could easily have happened, especially as my own admirers, not without a tendency to pugilism, were watching keenly for any opportunity to enter into the fray themselves.

 

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THE WATER-BUFFALO-LIKE ISLAND BECKONS ME

 

 

The Beach at Ezhumalai.

 

One of the visitors during our stay, whom Soman had brought with him, mentioned incidentally that he possessed some land on the island of Ezhumalai, which he was not using except for growing cashew-nuts by government subsidy. I asked him for five acres of land, which he said he would give for a nominal price. I have described already how the misty blue outlines of a distant hill that dominated an island which looked like a water-buffalo lying in the sea, had attracted my attention many times as I passed that region. I had also climbed to the topmost peak where a whole village of ancient monkeys still survived through the centuries in a sort of discontinuous distribution as in the Galapagos Islands.

 

It was only my own sympathetic response to the element of the numinous that constituted my guiding interest in this strange island mountain. Soon the hint from the Tao came that seemed to say definitely that I should take the offer of land that seemed to come to me so naturally. There are thin, invisible leading-strings that, like Ariadne's thread, can sometimes guide you through subterranean labyrinthine paths, of which chance elements life essentially consists. At times, one almost hears one's own name called from a distance and sees some strange hand beckoning from afar, leading one from one kind of probable possibility to another kind of possible probability. Thus wending our way through probabilities and possibilities we may finally arrive at the beautiful glory of nothingness that the Absolute presents. If the reader now wonders if nothingness is my philosophy, I can quote here with advantage from Keats: 'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever; Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness...' Here we see that Beauty and Nothingness are treated as interchangeable terms.

 

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ON THE ISLAND

By the invitation of the friend who first offered some land free for the Gurukula, we set out in a party to explore the island which till then to most of us was nothing more than a numinous presence. Just as a beautiful girl with a rose in her hand is better in a painting than when she is actually seen walking or talking or, as in the case of a dove or a peacock which are only beautiful to see at a distance; so too in its natural setting the actual island onto which we crossed over at a proverbial fording-place a mile south of the Payyanur railway station, made a comparatively drab and humdrum impression as we walked in the growing heat of the morning sun on the five-mile road that extended from one end of the island to the other. The idealist picture of finding an island home within the close embraces of the Arabian Sea still added its value from above, as it were, and the sight of small homesteads, narrow alleys and stiles through which we passed, often accosting half-clad primitive-looking men and women, sweating for bread in the sweltering heat, offered to us the usual picture of any island in the Indian Ocean.

 

Soon we came in sight of the palm beach with here and there a vista of the blue expanse suddenly opening up to our view, calling for a deeper emotional response than the drab surroundings. As we proceeded further on the same road, past an ancient temple and fig trees that must have been there many centuries, we came across Valkyrie-like Amazon women collecting firewood from the neglected hills and carrying it on their heads into the town for sale. I stopped one of them to enable Céline Gevaert to understand something of the economic conditions of the place: they could sell the head-load for one or two rupees after a day's labour.

 

We allayed our thirst with tender coconuts offered to us both at the temple as well as when we were half-way. As I was too tired to continue to explore further after the fourth mile, I let the rest of the party, consisting of Fred Haas, Céline Gevaert, Narayanan, Soman, D.K. Narayanan Poduval and another landowner, go almost to the end of the road where two peaks rose with sheer height into the sky and the road lay about one hundred feet above the beach, offering a breath-taking view of the ocean.

 

This place reminded me of popular seaside resorts anywhere in the world. In any so-called progressive part of the 'civilised' world, it would have been filled with signboards which said '100 Rooms with 100 baths'. Here it was a neglected corner of a sort of Land's End, fit for mermaids perhaps who could rise from the sea at midnight and sit on the rocks of the beach, as in 'The Forsaken Merman' of Matthew Arnold.

 

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Round the corner of the Land's End where there was an ancient fort and harbour on a promontory jutting into the sea, the road led us to a busy fishing village with its dugouts and boats, reminiscent of crooks and gun-runners and contraband traders, not to speak of pirates and other lords of the sea who have their adventurous life - the same now as centuries ago. The party was too tired to continue these interesting investigations to any further fruitful finish, but with a few more vague promises of land made by both Mr. Kunhikannan and Mr. D.K. Poduval, we decided to beat a retreat. There were no vehicles plying on that day - such availability was more of an exception than proved the rule. From the other side we took a taxi and soon reached the Cheruvattur Gurukula, leaving part of the company at their own places.

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY

 

FESTIVALS AND FOREWARNINGS

 

Cannanore Temple.

 

The Cannanore Temple Golden Jubilee celebrations were to begin on the very date that we planned to return to Ootacamund. I had agreed to perform the inaugural function, although I had grown out of the temple movement of Narayana Guru in the first decade of the century. He founded a chain of temples all along the West Coast for the use of the common people. Weavers, coconut climbers, traditional physicians, astrologers, and fishermen along the whole coast, together with the hunters on the hill ranges of the interior, constituted a population that did not belong to the orthodox or opulent context of Vedic Hinduism. They were rather to be looked upon as the salt of the earth; while the Vedic group exploited them through a theocratic setup manned by people who were mostly interlopers or intruders from other lands.

 

Between the sea coast and the high ranges towards the east, a three-hundred-mile-long strip of land was populated by a peculiar anthropological stratum of common men who, generally speaking, could add no titles to their names. The chain of temples that came to be established under the leadership of Narayana Guru filled a gap that separated prehistory from modern religious movements in terms of the religious life of the people concerned.

 

CANNANORE AND ERODE

The Cannanore Temple was an interesting example of this revised kind of popular temple which met the requirements coming from the people's side for a revaluation of spirituality for which the Guru himself was responsible. Temple theocracy and Vedantic philosophy cannot easily be accommodated together. For this reason I had to bypass this aspect of the Guru's work, interested as I was in the higher form of criticism and philosophy as taught by the Guru. However, in order not to break away and thus lose the popular touch, I agreed to attend the function at the request of the managing directors who represented the popular will.

 

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Thus Céline, Fred and I found ourselves sitting in a hall adjoining the Sundareswara Temple at Cannanore. The presence of a Western man and woman sitting on either side of me intrigued both men and women present. Young Fred in his sannyasi robes and a sprouting beard looked like the familiar oriental Christ in a well-known painting; and Céline looked like the model of a 'good lady' who would not hurt even a rat. They received their homage from the crowd and we took train; Fred to Bangalore and we to Calicut en route to Ooty.

 

On reaching Ooty, Céline found she could not continue to live at that altitude because of some lung troubles developed in the cold Belgian climate. Fred had just returned from Bangalore and we hurriedly decided to send her there. As it was also necessary to see the Erode revenue officer at the sumptuous waiting-rooms at the railway station in connection with a grant of land, we found a lodging-place in the town where we stayed for a couple of days and Céline had the chance of being taken around to some of the old temples at the meeting-place of the two rivers, Bhavani and Kaveri. Our old friend Nagaratnam sat on the rocks at the confluence of these two holy rivers by moonlight and sang some unforgettable Tamil devotional songs which, though strange and outlandish to Western ears, impressed both Céline and Fred by their hauntingly numinous content.

 

Céline was put into the train to Bangalore and was to stay there a few weeks under the care of Padma to learn all about Indian cookery and the secrets of wearing Indian clothes such as the sari. She was already preparing for her return journey and John later took her to Bombay to see her off; while Fred and I returned to Fernhill to continue steadily with the writing of the book. The strain of the work was too much for Fred after one or two months, and he took a holiday to go to Bangalore, roughly when we had reached the 700th page of the writing. Work continued with interruptions while Fred was away.

 

THE ANNUAL GURUPUJA FUNCTIONS

Depending upon the return of the Sun and Moon to the positions they held at his birth, the birthday of Narayana Guru may come anywhere during the months of August-September. The season that corresponds to this period is when the monsoon has abated and changes over from South-West to North-East.

 

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This is the season when general harvesting also takes place on the West Coast. Every year, just as Persephone comes out of the Pluto-world to restore prosperity to the earth, so there is an atmosphere of thanksgiving for what the harvest has yielded for hungry human beings.

 

From the days while a student in Madras when I organized a humble celebration for the Guru when he was still alive and sixty years old, through all these years I have been associated with similar events in different parts of the world and, as the movement of the Guru broadened, my relation with it made it almost my duty to be present at a growing number of functions and to make speeches or write for souvenirs in connection with them. By September 1966, I began to feel that I had done my bit in this direction and I tried to extricate myself from this atavistic repetition of the same pattern of behaviour. I was willing to allow an intermediate stage and unwillingly consented to unveil a statue of Narayana Guru at Mahé on the birthday in the month of August.

 

There were two parties, one of which objected to Narayana Guru's statue being established on an equal basis with that of Mahatma Gandhi on two sides of the gate. They thought that a politician and a Guru should not be given the same status. Feelings ran high and mediation between the two rival parties seemed almost impossible but, on inspecting the spot on my previous visit to Mahé, I had suggested that the two figures should face each other as if engaged in a dialogue. Such a basis of equality between two persons is recognized in the Gita in its last verse where Arjuna is a warrior and Krishna is a Guru. Furthermore it was a well-known historical event that Mahatma Gandhi came to visit the Guru at Varkala and sat face to face with him as guest to host of equal status.

 

Although I got anonymous threatening letters for some time from those who objected, I explained the dialectics involved openly and nonchalantly at the actual meeting. I had come in a jeep all the way from Cheruvattur with a party including a Nambudiri recluse and Fred Haas. The head of Pondicherry State, as well as the Administrator of Mahé, were present on the platform with their wives. As one of the anonymous letters even personally threatened me by referring by name to the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi at a prayer meeting, I openly invited anyone in the crowd to do the same if I was wrong. Fortunately no-one put a bullet into my heart which still seems to beat quietly as I pen these lines.

 

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Soon after the function we returned by jeep to Cheruvattur by the time the feeding of about five hundred people was just finishing there; the rice used having been sent all the way from America by Harry Jakobsen. The programmes in the two places thus went off well.

 

We arrived in Fernhill again to continue the heavy going in the chapters after the 700 pages of typescript then ready. Before the Gurupuja at Fernhill, we again had occasion to visit the island of Ezhumalai and inspect the actual plot of fifteen acres on the hill bordering the seaside. It was the day of the Onam harvest festival on which, after sitting on a stone in full view of the sea under a tree with the perfume of lemon grass all round, we feasted at the family house of Kunhikannan near the palm-beach lagoons. Then we paid in advance half the amount of the price of the land with the contributions of Kamala Bai of 500 rupees and about 1,500 received from Harry Jakobsen. Thus the dream of a Gurukula Island Home, not only bordering the surf and expansive sands, but also with the fresh air of the mountains and plenty of good earth for cultivation, was well on the way to being an accomplished fact.

 

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER FEASTS AND DANGER SIGNALS

We returned to Fernhill to continue writing at the end of September. Fred Haas, who had been continuously taking dictation from me and typing out the manuscript, left for Bangalore so that P. Karunakaran there could leave to come up to Fernhill to do necessary work in preparation for the Gurupuja in October. Romarin Grazebrook, who had gone to England for a visit in April, spent some time in France on her way back and arrived at the Gurukula on September 22nd, 1966, about noon. Her last letter had indicated that she was making an advance payment on some land at Menton on the French Riviera, evidently intending to settle down there. She had changed her mind at the last moment and her arrival had the same enigmatic touch of surprise as on two or three previous occasions. She came just in time to join me in the work again after the stoppage of it on Fred's leaving. My heart too had strange thumpings and missings of normal beats just at this period when I was fully in the hands of a disciple whose later behaviour, if I had known of it in advance, would have been good reason to make me afraid.

 

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He had the touch of a superman and his perversions included the forgery of cheques, both stolen and obtained under false pretences. He seemed to enjoy his own crimes and cultivated them through the years. I knew this trait in him but expected that kind treatment and a refuge under the Gurukula roof would reform him, but later events, alas, proved the contrary. He could easily be called a bandit, cut-throat, perjurer, mean pilferer, burglar, contraband- or gun-runner, liar, cheat or other beautiful epithets that could have been applied to him - but as a man he was intrinsically as good as any other. His daredevilry could also have had a touch of the superman who is beyond good and evil, but there was no question of his nuisance-value to others who had to seek their happiness themselves with the freedom that was each man's birthright.

 

When I returned from my hospitalisation at Calicut for a cataract operation, I came fully face-to-face with this disciple who could keep up outer semblances so correctly. Just at the time that Romarin returned I was fully in the hands of this strange character, who must surely have had some West Coast pirate's blood in his veins. Feeble of vision, weak in heart, lonely and humbly preparing for my last days, I left under my pillow a signed cheque for a thousand rupees for my own burial expenses in case, as I really suspected then, they should find me not alive in bed one day. Romarin's return brought at least one more person who could neutralize the situation. I began to dictate the unfinished chapters of the book.

 

Soon the Gurupuja and general feasting of Fernhill Gurukula came round on October 9th, 1966, and Nitya, who had gone to Singapore earlier from Delhi, was finishing his successful tour in South-East Asia and returned in time for the function, by air. He brought such a lot of good news that a festive atmosphere again prevailed and all Gurukula members, including Swami Mangalananda (for his last time in Fernhill) made the event more memorable than ever before. A tape-recorder gave us all a true account of all happenings in the Far East as groups stood round to listen to recordings made in Malaya as also some made in Delhi at the time when Swami Mangalananda stayed there with Nitya.

 

In mid-November, a Gurukula party was again staying on the cherished island itself, and we were able to register the land and pay the rest of its price. On November 12th, which was a new-moon day, we had already put up a pandal (coconut thatched awning) on the new site and cleared footpaths through the lemon grass to reach a terrace about 100 feet above the level of the road.

 

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Due to continuing rains that year and wet weather, the celebration of the inauguration of our new Home had to be performed under a roof a mile and half away from the new site. Swami Mangalananda made one of his best speeches on the morning of November 12th. Little did we know then that his voice was to be stilled forever about two months later.

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY ONE

 

AUTUMNAL DEPRESSIONS AND AFTER

The late summer months of the year 1966 were not specially eventful except for our steady progress in getting on with the writing work, chapter by chapter, page by page and sometimes even line by line. Fred went to Bangalore for rest from the strain for some weeks, but we kept on working at high pressure through the late summer months into the autumnal September days.

 

I had to visit Cochin harbour to clear about ten bags of rice that Harry Jakobsen had sent as a gift to the Gurukula, but between the cup and the lip there were many customs rules, paper hurdles and man-made difficulties before the hungry people for whom the gift was intended could eat the rice. Interstate movements of foodstuff were forbidden and even to pick it up we had to take precautions, which we were lucky enough to arrange with the help of several friends in Cochin under the guidance of Mr. Narayanan.

 

One whole bag, however, had been forgotten in some wharf and pilfering of grains had decreased the weight of each bag. Other impediments made me spend several hours at rationing or customs offices, all of which made the gift more of a trouble than the consolation it was generously intended to be by Harry, who thought he was doing good to the hungry people of India. Horizontal factors complicate ends and means, and intentions are foiled on a large scale for the benefit of no one in particular. Such is the zone where Maya reigns supreme.

 

On the birthday anniversary of the Guru I found myself at Cheruvattur still writing the seventh chapter of the work with Fred, after Céline had gone back to Belgium from Bombay late in summer. I went by jeep from Cheruvattur to Mahé, as already reported, for the unveiling of the statue.

 

THE NEGATIVITY THAT WOMAN REPRESENTS

Looking backwards from October 1967, as I write, at the negative factors that hovered round me one year ago, I can now discern a conspiracy of subtle forces. Missing heartbeats were innocent, single or simple disasters, but a fast-failing eyesight that encroached into my life and opportunities, though a less immediate factor, had more serious consequences for my life.

 

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My 'dear disciple' was a Damocles sword hanging over me of which I was unconscious. He was actually engaged in cheating me in every way from pilfering to forgery, as I have already mentioned. Similar happenings were taking place at the same time at the Gurukula at Varkala involving thousands of rupees running down the drainpipe due to other 'dear disciples' who lacked the simple qualification of integrity. Two dear little heifers, newly born, died of neglect around the same period. One of the truly dearest disciples of the Gurukula was also soon destined to die.

 

As if to announce and further accentuate the negative import of the total situation in which I found myself, that lady who had joined me in London the previous autumn and, after being with me some months in the earlier half of 1966, had been absent for three or four months, returned on September 22nd, 1966. She arrived at the Gurukula proposing to build a hut somewhere and live a life of independence from social or family ties.

 

As she was a woman who loved wandering in strange lands without much concern about how she impressed others, and gave me to understand she was attached neither to family nor property, I had nothing to tell me definitely that she was not fit to be a member of the Gurukula fraternity. By her own wish and half-silent assent, and by favourable views held on such a relation by many of the senior swamis present at the Gurukula Convention in 1966-67, a few months after her reappearance, she was duly admitted into their order. Strangely enough, as it has now turned out, before the next Convention to be held in December 1967, she has denounced the Guru and disconnected herself. A woman's entry into an organization of the kind the Gurukula intends to be has many subtle problems which hide below the visible aspect of the iceberg to which the situation could be compared.

 

The gist of the problem can be stated by saying that a woman's reason works in reverse of the manner in which a man's reason works. When these two reasons come together to solve any problem or meet any situation in ordinary life, whether petty or serious, an element of tragic absurdity often erupts into view like volcanic lava or something corresponding to a blind spot in the retina, which often has hidden tragic portent.

 

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Fickleness has been equated with a woman's mind by Shakespeare, who also refers to a 'woman's reason'. To a woman, freedom according to the sannyasa way of life is unthinkable, although she can be deified on a par with the Absolute itself. It is said that even God cannot guess the workings of a woman's mind. Schopenhauer considered women both ugly and unworthy. Nietszche's views on women are blatantly revealed in his Zarathustra where an elderly woman commands him to go to any younger woman with a whip in hand. The Gita (X.34) combines the subject of womanhood and of death in the same verse, both being perhaps equally negative factors in life.

 

The great Buddha was cautious when it was reported that women were to be admitted into his Sangha. Many religious or philosophical fraternities have been ruined or wrecked soon after the entry of a woman as an important inmate within their structure. If many cases of such still survive, they do so in a direction often the reverse of what the male founder would have meant as an ideal. There is a tragic factor involved here which is hard to state in cut-and-dried terms. Henpecked husbands or marital martyrs are seen in plenty in which one of the parties has had his or her life wrecked. Tolstoy has devoted a whole novel, Anna Karenina, to picture the nature of this element hiding behind glittering tinsel appearances. Victor Hugo in 'Toilers of the Sea' has two worlds of love to win: that of an octopus hiding within the rocks under the sea, and that of a rival lover on terra firma.

 

Within a year of the admission of a woman into the Gurukula the mistake began to be equally evident to both parties concerned. My worst fears, as stated in this biography written on first meeting the lady in question, before the mistake became evident, have proved true. I learnt again, in spite of all the forewarnings on the subject, what my previous life's experience had already taught me. I hope for the last time to beware of a woman, especially a frustrated woman.

 

Narayana Guru, in his composition relating to the inner structure of an ashram, has given the warning that those for men and women should be kept strictly separate. He often put the matter pithily, 'Go too near, gone'. My pride in being more modern-minded than Narayana Guru made me insufficiently heedful to this caution, although I had put down on record that the condition laid down by the Guru must be strictly honoured when giving the new lady a place within the Gurukula organization.

 

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Like mixing petrol with water and putting it in a motor car, the mixing of men and women, whose reasons work in reverse of each other, within the same organization is a danger based on a structural secret of the Science of the Absolute - which like gravitation is imperative in its demands to be respected by any intelligent organiser.

 

BEFORE AND AFTER JANUARY, 1967

The new home on the island hill near the sands of the sea was still a dream when we left for the hills again in the middle of November, 1966. Romarin helped by taking down my dictation and was able to send notebooks filled with texts for Fred to type out and put in order in Bangalore. Thus the work progressed steadily in spite of negativity whose shadow was portending still darker days for me with my failing eyesight. Dark forces from the world outside seemed to draw close to me in proportion to the increase of my own helpless disabilities. I could not travel alone and stood the danger of being easily run over at road crossings etc. I also misjudged the depths of steps which I had to descend. Newspaper reading became a luxury, not to speak of letter writing or scanning a book at a leisure hour. Like all grandfathers I sometimes kept searching for things under my nose or on my nose itself. I asked children their names more than once and put the same questions, once answered. My sprained leg gave trouble and teeth had to be extracted every three or four months, leaving some on the upper jaw with no counterpart on the lower. Still I have reason to be proud of the actual number of teeth I have left and with which I can munch toast and grin broad smiles. Such disasters, major or minor, were making life a greater nuisance than before as age advanced. But I still remained an optimist as I always try to be.

 

It was in such a state of depression that I decided to travel to Varkala, taking the Madura night express. I did this on 14th of December so that I could visit the Government Eye Hospital in Madura where an American eye specialist was practising. I had a sentimental objection to maiming myself with operations and thus welcomed the promise from the doctor of other aids. The prescription given resulted in my ordering glasses so convex and thick that they disappointed me and I decided to suffer the inconveniences again.

 

Romarin helped me to put down my last words of the book and went to get the new land on the Island surveyed and settled. I reached Varkala ready for the Convention on December 16th.

 

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THE 'PIRATES' AND 'MUSKETEERS' ARRIVE

Four Belgian Gurukula friends had started on an adventure to visit India in a van that they drove from Europe. Two of them were bold innovators in architecture and one a lawyer who left his profession in favour of a contemplative philosophical life based on freedom. The fourth was an ex-sailor who had seen much rough sea life. We called him a would-be pirate and the three others were fondly called the three musketeers. The pirate's name was Freddy and the three others were Jan, Walter and Marc.

 

They set out from Europe evidently prepared to face any hardship, and when they arrived at Varkala a few days before the Convention they looked tired, like mangled dogs that had badly bitten each other. They said that had been given a compulsory haircut and shave by government officials while passing through Yugoslavia. Undaunted, most of them appeared draped in bed sheets wound round them.

 

From Belgium, known for its respectable habits, it was a far cry indeed to see four Europeans breaking through all the barriers and conventions. They said their car had been confiscated or left at the Pakistan border for some unknown reason. Unkempt, unshod, unshorn once again, they presented together a sight that had a touch of humour of the type well known to Laurel and Hardy. Though they took life lightly they were downright earnest in their determination to help the Gurukula have its institute for the Science of the Absolute both at Erode and Varkala. They had in mind buildings constructed in the latest style after Le Corbusier. They stood for a new world of architecture in which buildings fitted human life as a sea-shell fits an oyster. They had all the technical knowledge and know-how needed for their dream of creating a new building. Their zeal knew no bounds and they wasted no time in making plans and taking measurements. Walter even made clay models of the proposed buildings.

 

It was an excellent instance of East and West co-operation in the best of spirits. The Convention went through its usual programmes with more than half a dozen Western visitors, although John himself could not be present because of suspected stomach ulcers due to suspicious adulteration of cooking oils, etc. Romarin Grazebrook came from the Island Home and was given sannyas and named Sannyasini Ramarani on January 1st, 1967.

 

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All went off better than usual at the Convention, which was a seven-day affair in which the whole countryside lost itself in varied programmes, some very popular and some select and distinguished. The homams (fire sacrifices) in which Gurukula inmates chanted Upanishadic mantrams each morning were the crowning feature that added dignity and calm to the event. Thousands came to have a darsan (view) of the new hilltop with earthwork completed before actual foundations for structures began to be laid.

 

After a short visit to Trivandrum for the first time in nearly a decade, I contacted Dr. Gopi about an eye operation. He recommended Calicut, where a specialist was available, because the one at Trivandrum was absent. I stayed with an interesting self-made man called Natesan who had built up from zero an international business of antiques and art objects, including indigenous ivory carvings with which he had started four decades ago as a lone hawker in hill-stations, searching for Western art-treasure-hunters both genuine and dilettantish. He too had traits of a Guru like me but worked at a level on the vertical axis where matter and mind meet more intimately than with me. Women understood him better and could vie with him and often go one better than he could in hierophantic esoterics.

 

I returned to Varkala after contacting this world of Goethe's Faust, which could be called that of the Atharva Veda. Like the holy Kaaba of Mecca founded in the name of Abraham, this hierophantic world contains the same absolutism implied in it as the more overt and much-publicised prophetic version of the same spirituality presented in cathedrals and bright and beautiful mosques. One has to know how to deal with them. Sometimes the study of Satan can be more profitable than the study of an Olympian Apollo. More later about this as also the bright side of womanhood.

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY TWO

 

HOSPITAL LIFE WITHOUT TEARS

The dark forces of life always work hand in hand with bright ones. Life is a constant oscillation between the plus and minus poles of a vertical parameter. This relational dimension is a pure or ineffably delicate silken or golden thread which has its horizontal reference line crossing it at different levels. At any given moment these structurally compensatory counterparts are operative within consciousness. The mind that can keep these contingencies together within its global awareness holds its balance neutrally between their rival claims. Such a neutral attitude, when consciously cultivated through a Science of the Absolute, establishes itself in a consciousness in which the concrete world is counterbalanced by its own reciprocal aspect of the abstract conceptual.

 

This can establish the personality in a neutral state that is stable and unmoved. The 'Unmoved Mover' of Aristotle corresponds to this notion. The Indian yogi also cultivates this state of neutral immobility between the dark and the bright. My hospitalisation in Calicut Government Hospital between the 16th and 31st of January, 1967, for an eye operation gave me some chance to try this theory out with myself as the experimental rabbit.

 

BLINDED IMMOBILITY ON AN EMPTY STOMACH

Complete rest in bed on a liquid diet without much change of posture prevented even yogic meditation. The upper arm was riddled with shots and there were pills to be swallowed. This was the order of the day which, along with the moanings of suffering fellow patients which I heard from my corner of a general ward, was a depressing experience.

 

The absolutist, however, has a way out of this sort of predicament. His soul is one that can easily oscillate between a bright vertical pole and its corresponding dark counterpart. Whether in a happy or sad outside environment, his self swings easily from one pole to the other, compensating what is outside with what is inside.

The numerator of the situation and its own denominator inside are always kept equally important by him so that one of them becomes cancellable by the other at any given time.

 

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The resultant is an absolutist attitude that ever spells the same happiness. Absence of conflict itself is of the essence of this happiness, which is for itself, of itself and by itself, and is of the nature of an inner experience confirmed by an outer idea or name referring to the non-Self. Thus Self and non-Self together spell the final state possible for man to aspire to, whether in piecemeal or wholesale fashion. Minor and major conflicts of the mind are inclusively comprised herein to be dissolved.

 

Hospitalisation and depression thus became corrected at every minute by a love of the sweetness of adversity till the neutral state involved became an ascending state of joy. Optimism was soon cancelled by pessimism and both poles of the crystal, half dark and half bright, were mutually merged into the grey colour of a pure transparent dull light of the non-dual consciousness.

 

NEGATIVITY IN GENEROSITY

A woman's mind naturally loves to linger on the form or negative ontological aspect and the spectre of death - often so appalling to a male human spirit - can make a truly womanly heart enjoy its tragic import. The smartly-dressed nurses in the hospital seemed to prove this theory because in no other occupation did I ever see women so at their own natural ease. A lady who visited me at this time unconsciously gave a finishing touch to this theory when someone said to her that there was a man hanging dead from a tree in view of the windows of the hospital. She openly admitted that such a tragic sight gave her a special kind of thrill which was not unlike the thrill that some persons refer to when they say, 'That was a good funeral.'

 

It is in this sense that I earlier referred to the negativity that womanhood represents. There is a strange curve of chance or probability-cum-possibility that is at the root of the fickleness of woman. Woman is made so as to be the principle of giving birth and nourishment by her body to other living bodies. She has thus to find a place between two limits of existence: one that is rigid or solid; and the other that is flexible or liquid. Malleability and viscosity belong to her body-mind which is at a given time neither one nor the other.

 

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Logic and reason have to obey instincts and emotional states more imperatively than with man whose body is made, like Adam's, to delve. Eve more naturally sat spinning or knitting as modern Eves in European parks are seen to do. A woman's beauty can be defined as the sinus functions of a Gaussian curve when transparently visible to the eye of a keen philosopher.

 

Waves and wrinkles in space represent the stuff of beauty, which is best revealed to the lover, madman or poet who are of the same imagination. Like the rays of a sun that has set but whose finer ray is visible above the horizon fading into the stillness of night, a woman's beauty is a dark-splendid value factor. Sad sighs and generous sympathy coexist here. This is the reason why, in the colloquy of the gods of the Katha Upanishad, the sun-god Indra was considered the most competent among the elemental gods to know the content of the Absolute. It first presented itself as an enigmatic spirit to their view, and they were puzzled until the vacant space revealed the overwhelming beauty of the goddess Uma, the daughter of the Himalayas, to Indra.

 

Joy and glory have their negative as well as their positive aspects. The dark splendour describes the negative; and the positive resembles the rising together of ten thousand suns. Structurally intrapolated, it is more legitimately of a female form; while when positively extrapolated it becomes thinned out into male mathematical terms. The pretty girl with the curl who had extremes of goodness or badness expressed through her alternating nature makes her the mother of woman's fickleness or of the absurdity which becomes more evident in maturer years.

 

The strange lady who joined the Gurukula but later changed her mind did so because she represented normal womanhood nearer than others who have less fickleness evidenced in their nature. A merely-earthy working woman cannot enjoy this luxury of being hysterical. We add here that a woman's mind always wants the steadying influence of a man. Without resting on his shoulders her life is like a boat tossed on the waves of a choppy sea. Thus we get a picture of woman whose nature has puzzled wise men through the ages. A woman tends always to feel lost without a man.

 

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BAD MIDNIGHT NEWS IN HOSPITAL

News of importance in one's life, whether of a positive or negative import, often takes one unawares. It is like the ushering in of seasonal changes, often gently announced by wistful breezes. Like creeping strange shadows or colourful skies, good or bad news often enters life when one is least prepared for it.

 

The knocking at the gate of Macbeth was a unique and tragic dramatic situation in which the outer world waited for the news of the midnight murder of Duncan. On the verge of death, Jean Valjean did not expect to see his adopted daughter Cosette and her husband Marius again when he wrote his will, leaving a secret fortune meant for the happiness of the dear young couple. It so transpired, however, as Victor Hugo tells, that he died with his dear children who had by chance arrived at his lonely flat, blessing his last departing breath with their radiant presence by a will of Providence, as it were. The ways of the Tao are mysterious.

 

MANGALA MERGES INTO THE MATRIX OF ABSOLUTE SUBSTANCE

It was well before midnight. The hospital patients had settled down after the evening meal. Sleep was making their moanings less frequent. The lights were partially out and I was awake lying on my back without change of posture for the ninth day. To make my fasting more enjoyable I did not take even liquids, thus submitting myself wilfully to a regime stricter than what was laid down by the doctor. I was not to cough, to talk or strain my abdomen. When the doctor opened my bandages he gasped to find that the incision he had made two days before had gaped instead of healed. The regaining of normal sight was thus in question.

 

I had received a letter from Varkala that same day which said that the well that was being dug at the Guru Narayana Giri had not struck water and the diggers were giving up hope. Later events proved this was premature as plenty of clear water was found a few feet deeper. Hope was at its low ebb for me that very night, and unknown to me then, I found that my 'dear disciples' were cheating me and neglecting their duties to such an extent as to make young calves die. The meaningless tears of a woman were another factor at this time. Everything seemed out of joint.

 

 

Before midnight had struck, an untimely telephone call came which was first transmitted to Dr. Rajan of Varkala who was attached to the Calicut hospital. He came on tiptoe to my bedside to break the bad news - which he did with professional correctness - of the death of Swami Mangalananda at Punalur where he had gone for a speaking engagement. The news was broken to me very cautiously and the doctor began by saying that Mangalananda was not well at Punalur, but within a few minutes he was asking me to decide where he was to be buried. Another telephone call came from M.N. Prasad at Varkala for further detailed instructions on the same subject. This was the first time within the Gurukula that the question of a burial had been posed so squarely for me to answer. I had to decide on the spot and at short notice. Luckily the Narayana Smrti contained sufficient indications and, as for the spot, it was right to think that an absolutist disciple could neither be treated as an ancestor nor as a mere demiurge or divinity. The elemental principles cannot be obstructed in their urge of necessity to 'become'.

 

I soon had to telephone back that Mangala's body could be brought to Varkala itself. He had just become merged into the matrix of the Absolute. His voice was stilled and he breathed no more. That was all. No fundamental change had taken place. His good repute continued to operate even after these other functions had ceased. Let him be interred into the womb of mother Earth without fuss. No rites were needed nor any painted sepulchre entombing worms. The soul goes marching on although the body lies mouldering. Honouring a dead body is an insult to the soul. Both had to be avoided. The procession of Nature for the good of future generations who still live should not receive a setback because of the dead who have to be buried. Such were the questions and answers involved. I soon took the decisions. He was buried on the side of the Brahma Vidya Mandir hill. No structure was to be raised. A plant could grow on the spot as a symbol of positive life, rather than any inert monument with its arrow of significance pointing backwards.

 

Such were the directions given. The Shivagiri sannyasins could take part in the ritual but they were not to be in charge of any arrangements. Thus the final instructions were given to Prasad and confirmed to Jenard three times from my hospital bed through Ramdas or Narayanan who were waiting on me those days. The latter was to go post-haste by the next available bus to confirm my instructions and supervise as my personal emissary. They were to wait till he arrived at Varkala by four in the afternoon of the 26th of January 1967.

 

491

AT DAYBREAK ON THE FUNERAL DAY

The teleprinters clicked their message through the night of the 25th past the midnight hour ushering in the 26th morning, along with full news about what had happened in the hospital and with the disciple who had gone forth into the matrix and mystery of the ever-present reality of every place. The Manorama Malayalam daily had put in the latest photograph of Mangala and let everyone know the precise time and place where they could go and respect his repute, though not necessarily his dead body. The Absolute itself was to be the ritual priest as mentioned in the obituary prayer from the pen of Narayana Guru, where the soul is referred to in a matter-of-fact way as dehi, the body-agent or owner. Relays of Gurukula students continuously recited Upanishadic chants from the Brahma Vidya Hill. The crowds had to be regulated and emotions kept under control till four in the afternoon when Narayanan turned up and Badiruddin gave a helping hand in immersing the ash-camphor-embedded body in Yogic posture into the loving arms of the sweet-smelling sacred earth to be absorbed into the elementals again in a natural way. John and Nitya arrived from Bangalore and Delhi to give final touches to this first of interments of a Gurukula disciple. They were late only by a dozen hours or so. Narayana Guru has written that when the kindly man dies he leaves his formal body but he continues to live here in the form of his own good repute, which is at least not a lesser reality than the body. The soul never dies and thus the idea of a good funeral is not totally absurd.

 

A GOOD FUNERAL AND AFTER

I continued in the hospital till Sunday, January 29th, and spent the last days of the month at our friends, the Kesava Mudaliars, which whole family, with Shivaprasad and his sisters, mother and brothers, had adopted the Gurukula way for some years already. Thence, on the first of February I, with John, the Jenards and Romarin, was driven directly to the Fernhill Gurukula by the generosity of the bus fleet owner, Cochukutty of C. C. Brothers.

 

This saved me a tedious bus journey and I could comply with the instructions of Prof. Sankaran who had successfully operated on my right eye except for a snipping that had still to be done with another hospitalisation and convalescence between March 31st and April 2nd.

 

492

The value-content of the two-months interval between hospitalisations was not better than the goodness possibly implied in the funeral already described. One hidden crime after another came to view in which the best of disciples were implicated as if from under the board. Absurd reasons with a woman's tears also marked out stages. The most basic of the currents of life's eternal becoming, however, remained the same all through, whether men came or went.

 

BANGALORE AND ERODE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

I had to wear dark glasses for about two weeks after being discharged from the hospital. Medicaments, dictation of letters, articles etc. went on, with Romarin acting as a kind of personal secretary. All seemed happy outside with her but deep down there was an element of dissatisfaction building up. As soon as it was taken note of by me it was automatically effaced for the time being - but only to resurface as a fresh eruption of the poison of absurdity vitiating the otherwise normal atmosphere. I was still learning the lesson referred to already, and I had to learn it for myself the hard way in spite of the words of wise men of the past. The only gain was that I could watch how it happened with a more alert and open mind.

 

My 72nd birthday was celebrated on the 19th of February. Three or four days before the event I started by bus with Romarin for Mysore. At the Bangalore City Market on the way, I consulted the optician who was to deliver new glasses to me. He was not fully satisfied with the result of my eye operation. He noticed a black scar not fully healed and remarked that the snipping of a new growth had to be done.

 

The celebrations at Somanhalli went off with more than usual éclat and in spite of food restrictions we managed to feed hundreds on the 19th Sunday. Old friends met me, among whom to be remembered is Gopi, a young engineer forcibly separated from his newly-wedded one because of family intrigues and campaigning rival relatives. His young child could not come to the arms of his dear father. The long story of a young man's tears had marred the happy events of my birthday celebrations in the same way for the previous two or three years.

 

493

He frequently sought my advice and mentioned to me the words of my letter asking him to bide his time and to press no button because 'time is a great healer'. Allah is referred to as the Merciful and as Mercy itself in the Quran. This time the three members of the family were seen happily united again and the long story of cruel separation of young and loving hearts was all but forgotten.

 

The Erode birthday celebration was also a happy event in which the same Absolute resulting from the equation of the Self and the non-Self was objectively explained by a fire sacrifice performed before a larger crowd than in previous years. The fire sacrifice took place at the top of Nataraja Giri before ten in the morning on Sunday the 26th of February, 1967. A contingent led by Prasad from Varkala and another from Tiruchi under P.V. Anandan met at Suriyanpalayam and saw to it that all went well. The visit of a van full of students from the Arul Neri Mandiram in Erode gave a finishing touch to the events. After making precious contacts with sympathisers for the movement thus inaugurated, and after putting Velayudhan Adigal in charge of the new centre with a hut put up illegally by some others and taken possession of and improved by us. Romarin went to Ezhumalai, Natarajan, Kumaraswami and myself went to Ooty, while Prasad went to Varkala and P.V. Anandan back to Tiruchi. We reached Ooty Gurukula on the 2nd of March, 1967.

 

 

 

494

CHAPTER FIFTY THREE

 

STILL TO TURN THE CORNER

Gurukula affairs had not yet taken a brighter turn by the Ides of March, 1967. No sooner had I settled down again in the hills, after the various celebrations and eye operation with new glasses, than troubles seemed to reveal themselves from some underground dark place of negativity. One by one they came into view: more cheating by disciples, more cruelty to animals and more meaningless tears and absurd complaints involving money too, from a woman who became attached to the Gurukula as a would-be sannyasini.

 

The bills which I had paid in cash to the Ooty Municipality through the same 'dear disciple' mentioned before remained unpaid; and surprise demand notices reached me, threatening legal action for amounts large and small. The grocer for whom I had left checks made out to cash had not been paid and cash had gone into the wrong pockets for several instalments. What was even more promiscuous was unauthorised borrowing done under false pretences.

 

To crown all, I found one sheet of my chequebook - the last of the book - had been carefully pilfered, forged, and cashed for hundreds. Over and above this crowning crime I discovered that a whole chequebook had been obtained from my bankers with which further cheques were being issued by this disciple. Almost every week I had to meet and answer claims made by cheated strangers from far and near within a range roughly of two hundred miles.

 

The shame involved was more unbearable to me than the cash. It could involve any amount, and the capacity to cheat depended ironically on my own good repute for integrity with friends in such matters. An inner conflict inflicted on me a keener crisis of conscience although the rot stopped when only a few hundred rupees from my own account had been lost. Although money belongs to the false value-world of Maya, the moral tribulation connected with it cannot be overlooked. I belong to the same world as my neighbour, and as one cannot reverse the laws of nature such as gravity, all the moral imperatives have to be treated as a categorical factor connected with the Absolute Necessity in life. Nuisance itself can attain to absolutist limits, and good repute was not a merely horizontal factor to be lightly overlooked. It involved one's personal honour.

 

495

THE EMANCIPATED WOMAN

The sannyasi, the hobo, the beatnik or Beatle and the hippie all have their modern counterparts in the emancipated woman who believes in a gypsy-like wandering life and takes refuge in an artistic temperament to hide a free and easy form of moral life, sometimes annoying, sometimes more healthy or normal.

 

She hates to be treated as a softie and likes male company without a rival female beside her. Often she shines in slacks or blue jeans and is fond of a beachcomber life of freedom from too much dress. All this might be thought natural enough, especially in the name of the equality of the sexes. Like two brackets which have to turn opposite ways in order to enclose anything at all, true equality is not mechanistic, but implies a subtle dialectical reciprocity. The emancipated woman of modern times does not often see this reciprocal bracketing principle but thinks she can behave like a man by imitating him like a mirror-image without reciprocity.

 

The new woman disciple began to show the first signs of some deeply hidden dissatisfaction on March 4th, when she returned from the new Island Home of which she was in charge. I had sent a helper, Achyuthan, to do hard work for her while she engaged coolies for putting up a hut when I was recovering from the shocks of being cheated. This lady made her appearance, vaguely complaining that she did not like the behaviour of the helper I had sent. She also discussed money matters in which it was not quite clear if she was spending for herself, for me, or for the general Gurukula.

 

These motives showed from behind her words alternately but not sufficiently clearly for me to take a decision one way or the other. She said she was not used to life with a servant which, she added, I had forced on her, although in fact she selected the man and took him herself. I could not quickly diagnose her trouble, which was one normal to all women - that of living with a male companion who loved and obeyed her. Fool as I was then, I could not read this underlying motive in her words which were then full of flower and foliage outside, with only occasional hidden tears.

 

496

FEMININE DISTRESS

'Men must work and women must weep' is a refrain from a poem by Kingsley which I studied in school. A woman's tears are her weapons in making even a big battleship-like man veer round to comply with her wishes. She can be a Portia or a Hypateia in her intelligence when she likes; but when she begins to be unhappy for absurd outward reasons, the man involved has to be wary of some sort of negative downfall or disaster. I had survived these tearfully fond tests of distressed femininity four or five times in my life, as told already in this life story. The woman in question now was more enigmatic than all the others known before. She combined gypsy ways with a sphinx-like look of a penetrating psychic power already mentioned as noticed at first sight.

 

Now the absurdities covered with tears first began by her referring to unsuitable servants whose ways or looks did not suit her. She once complained of starvation when I knew she had eaten. On an early date (April 14) she complained she was bypassed in the matter of being allowed to sleep in the half-finished hut without walls where I, a new servant, Adigal, and a boy, Raju, son of Narayanan, began to cook and settle down. I did not prohibit her but suggested that her own room with a proper bed, a mile and a half away, would be suitable.

 

She came in great tearful distress next morning complaining that she had not had any supper the previous night. No explanation could console her. Soon after, on June 14th, she began objections about the new helpers, whether Adigal or Kumaran, and said the grown-up boy's presence was a form of disturbance to her. I reminded her of the important understanding laid down by Narayana Guru himself that men and women must live separately. She seemed to accept this for some time. I recorded in my diary four times how tears and absurdities erupted from her to upset normal life. On June 22th she complained that I forced her to eat rice and curry. In fact I had encouraged the contrary many times. She also charged me the same day that I had suggested a jeep ride to town when she preferred the van.

 

This fifth alarm signal I thought was enough to warn me against trying to overlook living under one roof with a woman for any Gurukula male inmate. Somehow, in all such cases something went wrong and there seemed no remedy.

 

497

The opposite poles to which men and women belong must be the deep-seated reason for such absurd eruptions from time to time. In married life the children born balance the entropy factors. The expected crisis by which the woman broke off and went with another man to start an independent institution with him, disadopting me with some violence, took till August 27th to erupt in full force and vomit all its lava. Before telling the whole story of a distressed woman, otherwise intelligent by fits and starts and not always wrong, I must go back to where I left off.

 

GODDESS WORSHIPPED FROM GOA TO CAPE COMORIN

From Fernhill I had to go back to the Island Home on March 8th, to save the lady from the servant who was said to be rude to her. I took a bus to Calicut and continued the same day by express bus taken after the midday meal at Pachukutty's at Calicut, and arrived at Cannanore at six the same evening. The next morning train took us to the Island by noon of March 12th.

 

We still cooked and slept in the four-room building a mile and a half away from the site of the new Gurukula hut. The question of the rude servant had solved itself as we found he had absconded or left without notice. I tried to teach the lady how to save cooking tears and headaches by cutting vegetables and blowing fires to make soups and salads with dainty biscuit and mixed-fruit desserts within the room on earthenware stoves, with terra-cotta bowls and mugs to match. No progress was made with hut building because the workmen were half gentlemen farmers on the island and not fully proletarian in status.

 

We went there, however, on foot and rested under the roof that stood up without walls. I helped to revise the plans which were too artistically conceived to be liveable with convenience by the lady, who claimed to be 'creative' in all she did - whatever that term meant to moderns who used it - at least sometimes - as an excuse to cover irresponsibility. It was a freelance nonchalant defiance, sometimes good, sometimes questionable in what it covered justly or unjustly. I taught the lady how to make biryani with rice fried first and steam-cooked with vegetables later. I claimed as much creativeness in that as any modern artist.

 

498

Some visitors from Cannanore came and partook of our biryani lunch and incidentally showed me a souvenir luxuriously printed on art paper for the Guru's temple at Cannanore, in which I found some obscene references to Guru-pretenders, written by a Sanskrit scholar with me in mind, by way of slinging mud on my rising reputation as a Guru. Instead of pretending not to notice it I insisted on explaining it publicly and repeated my reference at the Cannanore Temple Jubilee meeting itself where I was invited to be present on the platform on the night of March 23rd.

 

After showing how one could live without a servant we witnessed an interesting ritual at the temple of Poomala Bhagavati - a learned and beautiful lady who, according to tradition, reached the northern end of the Island in a wooden ship from what she called 'Aryan country' in the north. The main item of the festival was watching two scholars having an argument in Sanskrit exegetics, rhetoric, semantics and grammar. They were ceremonially dressed in black sashes and scarlet cloths and each had a chela or disciple who went round a pole as the argument went on for hours. Women watched from their special pavilion at a distance and men sat wearing their gold ear-rings, with their palm-leaf umbrellas put aside in orderly decorum, listening to the tourney-torrent of words within the main hall.

 

Each of the contestants came from rival villages nearby and taught the recitation of their own epics to their disciples for one whole month in preparation for this annual contest in public. The humblest workman gladly contributed as much as two rupees with which to pay the eight hundred rupees, besides keep for a whole month, which was the time-honoured remuneration for each Pannikar or pandit.

 

The goddess they honoured here through the centuries was different from her more bloodthirsty sister goddesses who had to be propitiated in blood with animal sacrifices rather than by a 'poomala' or flower-garland. Evidently this is a dialectically revalued and Sanskritised version of Mother-worship whose various intermediate grades, from Kali to Saraswati, are still represented at the Mysore Dasara festival on ten nights - one for each.

 

At the other and southern tip of the same Ezhumalai Island there is a similar but prehistoric goddess still worshipped with bloody sacrifices. Thus this island contains in telescoped miniature form the epitome of the process of dialectical revaluation of Mother-worship, as Kumari (Cape Cormorin) in the Absolute Principle. This Absolute Feminine Principle, we have seen, was revealed to Indra as Uma, the daughter of the Himalaya, in the Katha Upanishad.

 

499

Ten more acres of land - rather rocky and steep but facing the vista of the sea - offered for sale by Mr. Kunhikannan, who preferred coconut gardens, was also bargained for on this visit. We settled on 3,000 rupees down, offered by V. Natarajan, late of Singapore, who readily donated 5,000 rupees for its purchase and development.

 

POST-OPERATION REST AT EAGLE ESTATE

On March 24th I again saw Dr. Sankaran at Calicut who thought that a further two-day hospitalisation was needed to snip off a growth from under the previous not fully-sealed incision in the eye. I visited a Buddhist vihar and a Guru mandir eight miles from Calicut and spoke there.

 

I returned to Fernhill just in time to discover that Sukumaran had cashed cheques, forged letters, misappropriated money, taken things from the Gurukula which did not belong to him, brandishing a revolver, genuine or imitation, to frighten the inmates, and had disappeared into the unknown underworld of crime again, after a year's life under the protection of the Gurukula.

 

I was again in Calicut by March 30th and operated on by 8:30 AM the next day. I was kindly offered a resting place for ten days at an altitude of 3,000 ft. by Mr. Cochukutty of Calicut with a special butler sent in advance to prepare mixed Western and Indian-style dishes for me in a streamlined modern villa in a cardamom and coffee estate where a baby elephant had been trapped previously in the year.

 

Partial bandaging of the eye; the heavy negative presence of a distressed woman with me who helped me with letter writing and eye-drops; and the expectation of fresh reports of criminal cheatings from my disciple who had escaped with a whole cheque-book of mine - spoilt for me the otherwise pleasant stay which I still made the best of as far as could be. News of fresh cheatings came almost each week, involving hundreds of rupees each time, for which my moral reputation, though only by indirect responsibility, was at stake. I could neither swallow nor spit out the bitter pill in the form of a pricked conscience within me.

 

At the same time, as I understood later, similar cheating in a milder fashion was taking place at Varkala where, before and after the last days Swami Mangalananda, the supervision of income and expenses was badly neglected.

 

500

The main disciple responsible absconded without an address for several weeks, threatening suicide, but reappeared in his home, hale and healthy with unjust advantages gained from his mismanagement of the Gurukula over several years.

 

ARRANGING THE ISLAND HOME

After leaving Eagle Estate we arrived at Payyanur railway station at about 8 AM and, crossing over to the Island, transported all things in a rubber-tired bullock-cart, with almost all our belongings, except the lady's personal effects, left in a locked upstairs room. Arriving at the half-finished hut with bags of cement, a gifted cot and other utensils and stores, we started cooking in the new place with incomplete mud and stone walls on April 13. Adigal was a carpenter and Raju, too, had some training with tools. All of us got busy, with occasional visitors like Sadanandan, Gangadharan and Manoharan from Varkala.

 

Joining in teamwork we were able to have cement floors and mat-partitioned rooms for three and the beginnings of a kitchen by April 23, when I entrained for repairing another half-finished hut at Erode, leaving the others to do what they could to finish the hut at the hillside Island Home.

 

It so happened soon after that the whole sixteen-acre plot with ten-feet-tall dry lemon grass caught fire by mischief or accident and blazed for days, sending up smoke to redden the sun's rays at dawn and dusk. The same kind of fire spread into the other ten acres on the adjoining slope of the same hill also owned by us. The conflagration frightened the two servants and both of them absconded, to the distress of the English lady trying to settle down on this far-off island. This time it was surely a form of undeserved punishment, due perhaps to dubious loyalties or just sheer ill luck.

 

The fire itself, which was kept at bay from attacking the hut by one of the two inmates, was a blessing in disguise, because anyhow the lemon grass had to be burnt (but carefully) or cut each year before a proper crop could sprout after the first rains. It saved us hundreds thus while hundreds were going down the drain at other ends of the Gurukula institution.

 

501

This fire-fighting took place when I was fitting a new door to the hut on the seven-acre site got for the Gurukula at Erode. News of it reached me only when I had arrived at Fernhill on April 29. Thus good and bad luck came together when I was trying to get a short spell of quiet at Fernhill for the full month of April and a week in May, before I had to go to Ezhumalai Island Home again.

 

MORE BAD OMENS

 

The beach from the Gurukula Island Home.

 

On May 10th I reached Payyanur and finished the registration of the ten acres of land and proceeded to the Island Home. The shed was made a little more secure against the impending monsoon as well as against burglars, though they were scarce in the locality. I had left no-one behind and Balan, a tribal boy whom I had employed at the Island, was to look after the place when I went back to Fernhill via Vythiri where I stopped for inspecting the site offered for a public school near a fresh-water lake.

 

The English lady expressed her desire to change from the Island Home to Vythiri because of the possibility of more English-speaking people there. This was the first signal from her of wanting to back out of her previous commitments. Reaching Fernhill again with her on May 16th, further reports and visits of the police and persons cheated by forged cheques made the atmosphere surcharged with disadoption and mistrust. John wrote disapprovingly of the Peace Conference proposed for 1970, which I had mooted. He gave reasons that did not make sense to me. I had to write a long letter to him complaining of his tendency to form an isolated Gurukula within the general one and of the tendency to disadopt me. This was soon denied. Fred too had gone out of the way to meet with those who were against the Gurukula, asking for finance to print books for us. I suspected even then that the presence of a woman in the wrong place was the subtle cause of these evidences of disruption. I told the lady in clear terms for nearly an hour on May 19th that her interest in helping the Gurukula was sometimes based on womanly instincts which needed to be adjusted and rightly placed.

 

She soon left for Madras to see about her passage arrangements to England and returned on May 24th after a few days absence. She helped me to re-write my Bulletins Nos. 1 to 5 for the proposed World Conference for Peace through Unitive Understanding for which preparations were to commence even in 1967, November 11th to 19th inclusive.

 

502

Nitya arrived on May 31st and came to Cannanore with me and the lady. We were to spend the whole month of June facing the brunt of the monsoon on the Island. We planted many trees with Kumaraswami who joined us after ten days' leave from Fernhill. The rains came. We worked and got the hut liveable and an acre of land cultivable. Between July 1st to 30th, I was at Varkala and Trivandrum submitting memoranda to Government Ministers to improve amenities on Ezhumalai Island.

 

Devidayananda, who had been in charge of the Somanhalli Gurukula twenty miles from Bangalore for over seven years, came to Fernhill because of health, he said; but soon he became dissatisfied and abruptly broke away for no tangible reason to join a neighbouring ashram twelve miles away. The lady went into a sympathetic strike with him and did not attend evening studies, saying the atmosphere of the Gurukula had some non-creative factor which she could feel within herself. To synchronise with these dissensions, two local swamis who had volunteered to stay and help with cows and garden also left.

 

To crown all these ills, just when I was tired of explaining that the atmosphere of the Gurukula was the same throughout and that disadoptions came only because of not being in tune with the Absolute, a dog came unawares and committed a nuisance just in front of the holiest of holy places in the Gurukula. All negative aspects, including nature, seem sometimes to work hand-in-hand with women, pets or children in your fight against the forces of Maya. I suspect such a situation to be familiar to many brave heads of families. This might sound superstitious to some modern minds. But the matter could be stated in fully scientific terms when we think of God as a supreme value-possibility, and ill-luck as an occasional negative or dark probability. To the careful contemplative eye, life is seen to swing between these limits. Thus omens good or bad are not outside the scope of scientific thinking.

 

The dog's contribution to the nuisance of the negative situation in the Gurukula took place on August 9th. The cow-boy proved a burglar the same day and broke a lock to steal provisions to take away to his nearby house. I had to get a new cow-boy, Bhimaraj, at short notice.

 

A surprise visit from a man who had come to see me and the lady at Ezhumalai on August 13th, was another signal for a minor ill-fated development in the Gurukula. He was about forty-five and married without children. He had worked on an Indian Navy ship and visited the Mediterranean regions.

 

503

He spoke good English and evidently wanted to join the Gurukula as an inmate. His help with cows and kitchen was welcome just then but, lurking below the surface, an association was brewing which I did not suspect. Guru Kripananda, an old man who had been a rickshaw-puller for Guru Narayana and who was given sannyasa, came to help but became homesick and wanted to go back to his family in Varkala.

 

Meanwhile, my presence was needed at Cheruvattur and Ezhumalai for the Guru birthday celebrations at each place, to take place the same day, August 21st. The two functions went off well, a procession of three cars crossing at the ford at Payyanur onto the Island and returning at 4 PM to enable me to attend both the functions and the feedings, etc. at Cheruvattur and the Island Home, which was an encouraging feat.

 

The next day, August 22nd, was the absurd climax with the lady. It came unexpectedly when she got wet in the rain and left for Fernhill to see the new friend there. She gave other excuses and returned with her things on August 26th. The absurd charges she made against me and how she turned later into an enemy of the Gurukula and me need not be repeated. As I sat in the mail train to Calicut on August 27th, on my return journey to Fernhill, she was seen with her luggage leaving the Island along with the new friend.

 

 

 

504

CHAPTER FIFTY FOUR

 

TURNING TO THE PROSPECTIVE

After a hectic month spent on the West Coast, travelling between Vythiri in South Wynad and Calicut, Alwaye and Varkala from December 13th to January 15th, 1968, I am now back at the quiet mountain retreat at Fernhill which has been my consoling mother for my solitary life from adulthood through middle age to the mature old age of seventy-three at present. This 'Queen of Hill Stations' is a sort of paradise, though not without its whimsical, wet and cloudy days which help to enhance the beauty of this prostitute-like queen, but the final vote always comes in her favour when bright and good days are counted against bad ones, compared to the extremes of other climates.

 

Let bygones be bygones, let us forgive and forget or learn to bury our hatchets and not remember the evil done to us. As Tennyson would say, 'Ring out the old, ring in the new'. In this New-Year mood I am hardly able to switch back to where I left off in the last chapter, where I said some words about a lady which  might still have an uncharitable ring about them. The Tirukkural of Tiruvalluvar, the famous Tamil spiritual classic, also holds up the noble attitude of forgetting all ill done to one and covering it with positive generosity. Nietzsche said there was great tribulation in anything that made us say 'that was'; and Narayana Guru in his 'Atmopadesa Satakam' harps on how the past can bar spiritual progress. When such a memory factor is fully transparent, however, the evil can be avoided.

 

I can myself feel this lightness from the strangling weight of  the past, especially of the immediate dross of the past just gone by at the time I am switching over from the past to the future while I write these lines on January 18th, 1968. Let me make my narrative up to date without lingering on uncharitable or unpleasant aspects any more; and try to preserve the transparency of memory's winds playing on the silken sails of life's boat so as to make it as tender as possible, now that all the ill omens and negativities mentioned above are as good as gone for ever.

 

505

NITYA RETURNS FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA

Nitya Chaitanya, who was in Delhi for three years, planned gradually to fit more correctly into his svadharma (proper way of life) and to the work dear to the heart of Narayana Guru. Even while a student he had organized an inter-religious conference at Alwaye and given me a central role to play therein. What began in him as a vague form of hero-admiration had matured gradually through the years into full-fledged discipleship. On finishing his MA in philosophy he joined the Gurukula at Varkala for some time, but disadoption and adoption alternated in him still, and rival emotions sometimes become evident. As he belonged to a family of poets or artists with a sensibility to higher tastes and values, he could be easily upset and was given to exaggerations in certain matters. The weaning process in the last stages of an idealistic adjustment in his education sometimes showed signs of inner or outer disturbance.

 

Towards the last week of August, 1967, after the bad omens and negative lags in life indicated already were over and, when Nitya was on a visit to Singapore, he developed heart and other troubles - half-imaginary and half-real - which expert doctors diagnosed variously, but which I felt were due to his general weaning troubles from past moorings in life to those which suited his personality more properly.

 

As he was the only qualified disciple who could carry on the work at Varkala left behind by Mangalananda, I was more anxious about his health than I ought to have been as a sannyasin. He too tried his best to recover and by September 6th he was again thinking of his normal engagements, having had to cancel several important ones which fell before that date. This date coincided with a letter which Mr. Damodaran, at whose house Romarin was then living, wrote enclosing her statement that she had severed connection with the Gurukula but continued as a free sannyasini outside.

 

Brighter days were thus beginning to be announced. I had one of my bad teeth pulled and had a new cow-boy instead of one who could break the locks of the storeroom when my back was turned.

 

506

LAND OFFERED AT PALGHAT

 

Palghat.

 

On September 14th an offer of fifteen acres of land near Alatur in Palghat took me to that area from which I returned on September 17th to find that Damodaran had left the Gurukula at Fernhill to meet Romarin, then living in his house. Another short visit to Trichy for the Guru Birthday feeding there on September 24th; and a similar function on October 1st at the hill at Erode; with the final function at Fernhill on October 8th at which eight hundred people were fed - all kept me busy while I anxiously awaited news from Nitya who gave less and less cause for anxiety.

 

He soon returned to Trivandrum by air and arranged for his stay and work at Varkala, building a new stone hut for himself. He came to meet me on October 25th and I made sure that at least half of his trouble was a 'maladie imaginaire' and connected with his inner adjustments in regard to fully respecting his svadharma. We travelled together again to Palghat to perform a fire sacrifice, inaugurating a new centre there on November 1st. We appeared on two platforms together at Yakkara Temple on November 1st and at Chittoor College on November 3rd. Nitya then left for Bangalore en route to Bombay and I made a speech at Calicut Gurukula Study Circle on the 5th, and reached Ezhumalai Island Home Gurukula by 3 PM on the 6th.

 

PRELIMINARY WORLD PEACE CONFERENCE AT EZHUMALAI

I arrived at the new Island Home just in time to hold the preliminary World Peace Conference on the hill slopes and sand beach at the land's end of Ezhumalai Hills. Bamboo worth more than a hundred rupees was luckily available at the ferry itself. In four or five days' time we had to put up a conference pandal; clear footpaths to a point on top of the hill six hundred feet high with a panoramic view of the sea several miles away; and arrange for the feeding and stay of volunteers and participants. The Conference lasted from November 11th to 19th, including two Sundays. Coolies and voluntary helpers did a fine job, showing how teamwork could accomplish what seemed impossible. Shanmughanarayanan came with a car which gave much trouble but served the purpose of transport, so scarce on the island then. The roads were narrow and bumpy but the group never got discouraged. Kumaraswami, Soman, Narayanan, Anandan, two Anandans from Tellicherry, Nandan and Sreedharan, Jenard, Kamalabai, Murali and contingents from Kasargod and Cheruvattur and many local enthusiasts all helped with vigour and joyful effort. A pandal 25 x 18 feet was strewn with white sea-sand and decorated.

 

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Classes began before six in the morning and discourses after 10 AM, at tea time and before supper, took place for hours - all of which kept the disciples busy. The influx of visitors increased from day to day till the successful climax was reached by Sunday November 19th. All were satisfied that the Conference for 1970 would not be at least without sufficient response, even in that forsaken land and strand. As it was the first occasion of the kind, I took upon myself the task of giving talks for five or six hours each day, and covered in outline the subjects to be discussed at the final conference in 1970. On the last day all religions and shades of opinion were represented and all went well.

 

On November 21st I was taken to Kasargod where a group attached to the Subrahmanya place of worship, intended for a temple, received me. I talked to them about how correct spiritual ways according to the way of the Guru had to be followed instead of their current style of worship that was mostly amorphous. On my return journey, I stayed overnight at Tellicherry and talked at the Mission School Hall to about five hundred people at five-thirty PM on the 25th. On the 27th I went to Vythiri, reaching Eagle Estate by 2 PM to inspect a site for a Gurukula there, and returned to Fernhill Gurukula by 4 PM on November 29th.

 

CATCHING UP WITH CONTEMPORARY EVENTS

I have only to tell about a month's story retrospectively to catch up with events that could be called contemporary diary leaves from the life of an absolutist. Apocalyptic scripture is more helpful to spiritual progress than Old Testaments or even Vedic values depending on smrti (memory). Freedom lies before us and the bondage of the past binds our footsteps on the sands of time from behind. From regretful reveries and reminiscences it is good to feel the freedom of the freshness of the breezes of future life still to be lived, whether here or hereafter, however dimly visualized or visualizable.

 

As if to punctuate the past from the future, our brown cow, Sundari, caught lung trouble as its mother too had done, and died after about ten years' life on December 6th. I had it buried on the grounds.

 

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I visited Vythiri again for the inauguration of the new Gurukula Centre at the Lake View plot with a homam and a good gathering at 10 AM on December 9th. John arrived from Bangalore the same day. Nitya also came with a party from Calicut and all met at Eagle Estate and proceeded to the five acres dominating the fresh-water lake in the forest. There was distribution of rice pudding to children of the Tribal School and to hundreds of others after the event at which John, a Christian Father, a Muslim Mullah and Nitya spoke after I myself had a chance to explain the ritual. All went well.

 

JOHN'S SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY

At Calicut on December 10th there was a large gathering to felicitate John on his sixtieth birthday, at which the editor of the Mathrubhumi daily, Mr. K.P. Kesava Menon, presided. I also made a short speech, but the main Calicut representative Lohitakshan did the lion's share of speaking at the Krishna Tutorials courtyard before a fairly large crowd. The next day was spent at the Birla Rayon Mills at Mavoor near Calicut where John spoke, as also Lohitakshan, before the staff club members. These speeches helped to banish misunderstandings about the character of the Gurukula, which is distinct from a mere socio-religious affair.

 

I took a State Transport bus to Alwaye from Calicut on December 12th, and spent the afternoon enjoying the luxury of bathing in the warm river, with Mr. Rao, Gita, his little daughter and neighbouring children. I then entrained from Ernakulam for Varkala, arriving there - having been accompanied by a talkative fellow-passenger most of the way - on December 13th At five in the morning of December 14th, I awoke after a good rest at Varkala Gurukula, with all the inmates and boarding boys, and Nitya in good health and optimistic.

 

OVERWHELMING PRESSURES AT THE CONVENTION

On December 16th I moved to the Guru Narayana Giri and began getting the existing rooms and shed repaired in view of the multiple events to take place on an all-India scale under the various auspices of the Shivagiri Mutt, Dharma Sangham Trust, the committee for installing a marble statue, an exhibition committee, etc. - with duplicate functionaries expressing themselves along a mile route of sprawling roadside establishments and grounds. Roads were being metalled in haste and Presidents and Ministers galore from the Central and State Governments were to be present for programmes from December 19th to January 9th, 1968.

 

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The crowds were unprecedented and the Gurukula Convention - usually a quiet affair of chants and discourses - was all but overwhelmed by the glaring or garish events of exhibitive vanity. Politics, tribal interests and a low grade of religious fervour filled the atmosphere. Some attempts were made to commandeer Gurukula lands and use them illegally as a car park, but such attempts were promptly nipped in the bud. The seven-day programme of the Gurukula was gone through in spite of quantitatively stronger rival elements prevailing all round. The Convention was a greater success than in previous years.

 

At least fifteen thousand people visited the Gurukula and paid their respects to the Guru; and I had to keep responding to various prayers for consolation, cure or blessing from vast numbers of men, women and children, most of whom touched my feet and got prasadam of holy ash, sweets or other eatables, all seven days and even three or four days after. The devotees looked on dumfounded, and women with careworn faces stood in contrast to plenty of little ones with their innocent bright eyes and faces. Relativism was writ large on the faces of the elders while youth revealed the clear natural touch of the Absolute. No wonder Jesus said that of such was the kingdom of heaven. Youth and spirituality are the same. Innocent love and wisdom are likewise to be treated as synonyms.

 

The generality of men and women in Kerala seemed to me at this time unable to express themselves in speech or normal behaviour. A sub-normality of tribalistic groups seemed to be evident more than ever. The evil of drink or trade in liquor as also killing for food seems to have poisoned the healthy souls of these good people during generations. This must have been the reason why Narayana Guru insisted on advising his followers not to have anything to do with drinking nor with killing for food. In the New Year Message I gave out on January 1st, 1968 these factors were specially alluded to besides three other items of importance to the Guru movement as a whole.

 

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TRIBALISTIC NEGATIVITY

The pressure came from dumb crowds who gazed on without any expression, sometimes for an hour at a stretch. I lost my patience once or twice and told them to their face that while they looked at me with the curiosity shown to an animal in the zoo, I silently prayed that a bomb would drop from mid-air to break the awful, arid nothingness that I had to endure in the situation. I even discovered one case in which the poison of negativity had sunk so deep in the progeny of the people that a youth of fifteen of otherwise normal intelligence and bright looks and reported to be a good student of the fifth form could not answer such a simple question as 'What is your name?' He looked on helplessly and all he could do in response was to shed tears while he tried hard with quivering lips for several minutes with the honest intention to respond. It was a strange case of aphasia or apraxia, or both combined, to which abnormalities in speech Bergson has devoted very enlightening paragraphs. The poison of alcohol for generations might have been responsible for this extreme case of negativity. This instance has set my thinking in the direction of the negativity of psychophysical adjustment in tribalistically-conditioned youth, which I think would make a fit subject for an educational thesis.

 

THE TRAGIC LINE BETWEEN PROSPECTIVE AND RETROSPECTIVE LIFE

Scientists are beginning to say that Time's arrow could point backwards as well as forwards. The grand and universal flux of eternal becoming, however, is really experienced as a forward flowing one. Better still, we could say that the breezes play on the silken sail of life, ever pushing it forward, although the wind could blow 'where it listeth' as Jesus would put the verity.

 

There is a grand respiration of the universal spirit with which each man breathes his breath, pushing life step by step forward. In vainly trying to reverse its course we are trying to reverse the progression of life's car of Juggernaut, with all the tragic necessity it implies. It must have been in this sense that Nietzsche called all retrospective values in life a tribulation or a tragedy. As I write these memoirs, I can feel the intensity of this tragic element increase within me as a kind of strangling factor within, the more I approach near to that line of demarcation in my life-story which separates the past from the future - which is just that zero point of the eternal moment of the everlasting present. To avoid the conflict let me now stop to explain for a moment.

 

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The object of this autobiography has been a self-portrait of a common man of the present generation. Spiritual life has usually been tainted with much pretentious cant and many tinsel ornaments have often been used to embellish the image. The natural man with his humanity as such needs no polishing up. Gold needs no gilding, nor the lily any paint. It was Rousseau who in his Confessions showed perhaps too well how this could be done through his over-honest writing. Mahatma Gandhi tried the same but said many things that lowered the standard of normal human nature. I have tried a middle course, but with the same purpose.

 

Retrospection and regret mean the same in essence. In telling the remaining story of about a fortnight from the end of the Convention at Varkala on January 9th, 1968, I have now only to add that I visited Trivandrum and the sea beach of Kovalam on that same day in the evening at sunset. On the 11th, I started for Ernakulam and motored with Mr. Rao to Alwaye. I spoke before the Sankar Theosophical Lodge of Ernakulam on the 11th, and on the 13th I started for Trichur and was taken by car to Engandiyur by Shanmughanarayanan. I spent the 14th evening watching a pink sunset near a sandbar on the seashore close to a ruined Dutch fort at Chettuvai. On the 15th till nine in the morning, I regulated land affairs there.

 

I was also glad to have put up a third hut after the model invented by Jan Bruitsaert, the young Belgian architect who had outwitted all primitive people at their own game with the simplicity of his hut building. It consisted mainly of a tetrahedron covered with coconut thatching. Only four bamboo poles of fifteen feet and two more split up for cross rafters, with coir strings, were needed. It could be built in half a day by two men. Here modern architecture met and shook hands with native life at a zero point. A modern man can sleep on a cot, sit on a chair and write or read books from a rack within this tent-hut.

 

Let me now stop on this note of a zero point which is applicable to the simplest of all huts that man ever built as to the turning point in my own life. In future instalments I shall deal month by month with events from my diary leaves without complications coming from regrets or retrospections.

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY FIVE

 

BOLDER FLIGHTS INTO THE UNKNOWN

I am at the threshold of my seventy-fourth year and have now almost finished telling my own story up to this point. I have crossed the tragic line that separates retrospection from prospective and free adventurous vision. My birthday is only like a milestone planted, if it could be at all, in a forward-flowing Time which, in proportion to the lucidity of inner vision, could point its arrow both ways as the wind that bloweth where it listeth. The future and past, when pushed forward or backward by our imagination, must attain a nominal limit which, like an Euclidean point, cannot have any dimensions.

 

MYSTIC AND AXIOMATIC THINKING

How do we know this? Because we do not or cannot know anything otherwise. Like 'A = A' we attain here to axiomatic thinking which is neither a priori nor a posteriori. Like the truth of man's mortality, this is not within the scope of laboratory demonstrations, while still remaining fully scientific in validity.

 

Having devoted several hundred pages of writing to the story of my past life, let me turn to some bold flights of the 'alone to the Alone' and indulge in random reveries free from retrospection. Like the light of an electric torch in a mist, the future is amorphous and clears only to the extent that the torch can penetrate. One feels like a prophet faced with an apocalyptic agony or frenzy; as when Jesus raved about razing the stones of Jerusalem. One thinks of doomsday and has to go beyond death before this mystical exaltation can be felt within one. The actual events of the future are there in virtual and undeveloped form, as in a raw film or photo-slide, but the events happen to us when we have our turn to meet them in pure or inner or qualitative space and time treated together.

 

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By now I hope I am justified in explaining in this manner after having written for three or four decades on allied subjects. Between the rueful regret of the past and the frenzied adventure of future conquest, life is a process of double correction and travail which, when freed and made transparent to itself, could spell out that immortal joy promised in all the great scriptures of the world. My life has been in this sense a constant promotion from the regret of retrospection to the joy of the advent of future days. Seated back to back, the regretting and the joyful faces of the Self have ever remained a double-headed Janus moving in the eternal present, carrying its own 'mobile image of eternity'.

 

Yogic meditation is nothing but the recognition of the union of two aspects of the Self in reciprocal, complementary, compensatory or fully cancellable relationship with each other. Beatitude is the absolute resultant where subject and object merge into one and the same matrix or mother-liquid. Otherwise pictured like a crystal of double tetrahedrons base to base, consciousness clings to a vertical parameter within the Absolute Self and, like a vermicular helicoidal living being, goes up to the Omega Point or downward, through the Zero, to the original Alpha Point which is the lower ontological limit of pure being.

 

This parameter itself could shrink from both ends and become that Light of all lights; filling all possible times and spaces; remaining still conceivable or experienced as a universal concrete alternating between the model of a colour solid with the incipient phenomenal aspects implied in some movements - but rising with every cosmic respiration into the whole brilliance of pure incandescence, effacing its own structural outlines with other movements.

 

THE TRAGIC DIVIDING LINE

Between name and form, substance and attribute, time and space, or energy and matter, there is a tragic line that separates the one Absolute Value horizontally; while the vertical logical parameter passes without contradiction, penetrating the separating film between the above pairs of conjugates. The Self and the non-Self, cause and effect, reality and appearance - have between them the indeterminate principle that introduces a tragic element into an otherwise intelligent life that man could have at his command. All the great scriptures of the world have the teaching of this truth at their core as a secret which is both esoteric as well as exoteric. Belief and scepticism have to go hand in hand for the discovery of this absolutely significant value.

 

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During four decades and a half from 1923, when I finished my usual educational career in India, I have travelled, studied, taught, made speeches, held discussions, and written many pages to justify what I am boldly asserting now in what I have just written. The reader must clear for himself the vagueness or the tall claims or generalisations herein, if any, by referring to the explanations I have given in various contexts in my life-long writings.

 

THE PROBLEM OF SQUARELY FACING DEATH

Death has a central, and structurally a total, position in the centre of what is called life. All true contemplation has to take account of this factor which no one can bypass. The vertical parameter as a road goes past this city of death. It has its origin in the womb of the Mother as its Alpha Point, leading through the Zero Point to the culminating doomsday marked out as the Omega Point on the plus side of the vertical axis.

 

Spirituality has to be both apocalyptically positive and regretfully negative at one and the same time if it is to be true to the Absolute, which is sometimes called the Most High God. Whether personified or thought of impersonally, God and Absolute are to be understood as interchangeable terms. A horizontal tragic line, however, divides the totality of forms from names, or the geometrical truth and its algebraic counterpart. It is as in the Pythagorean theorem which proves in two ways that the same certitude of the Absolute is involved - whether through name or form; through the algebraic approach or the geometric. The normative Absolute is the point where both of these meet and where the paradox of life and death reside together. Vertically there is life and horizontally there is death.

 

BEGINNING A NEW WAY IN LIFE

Such in short is my own philosophy, formulated at the end of my main writing career; at the end of my active outer life and the beginning of a fuller inner contemplative absolute life. I am to enter my seventy-fourth year mid-February, 1968, and my autobiography has to turn also on that date from retrospective to prospective visions.

 

The above remarks are meant to announce the new orientation for the guidance of the reader for any future autobiographical indications. In my writings I expect hereafter to be less conditioned in what I have to say by my own background and history.

 

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Even Narayana Guru, who has been my guide in my life, will be allowed by me to fade more and more faintly out of view into the background of yesterday's hundred thousand years; and even prospectively he shall loom less and less significantly in my vision of the Day of all days that is to dawn for me or is ever dawning with its red glow within the mental horizon.

 

There are, however, certain esoteric indications in the writings of the Guru which lie hidden in some of his earlier positions. Insofar as they can be brought out and presented to the modern reader in the light of exoterics rather than mere esoterics, I shall indulge in adhering still to the less-known texts of the Guru to which I feel I have not yet done full justice. With his thoughts at their subtlest and my own understanding of them sharper than before, these references are to be presented in these pages hereafter.

 

THE MATRIX OF THE UNIVERSE

Matter, mother, matrix - all could refer to the same 'world-ground' of Hegel or the emanation on which vertices could form themselves in the cosmogony of Descartes. Bergson's flux of creative becoming in which the 'élan vital' could operate is another. Quantum mechanics, Maxwell's equations and Einstein's three bold visions of the physical world have all to be fitted into the language of the world of modern physics, which presupposes decimal digits or points of numerals of six integers and where the exponents could range from quantities, functions or factors, or obey laws or respond to equations or graphs from zero through unity to N or -N. The entropy and negentropy of thermodynamics; exosmosis and endosmosis of biology; and implosions or explosions of energy as referring to particles or super-novae which have between them a one-to-one correspondence, both complementary, reciprocal, compensatory, reversible or cancellable against each other - bring in a new vision of the universe. Double notions of conjugates such as time and space, matter and energy - their variety and uncertainty are referable still to mathematical laws expressed by formulae based on probabilities or graphs with Cartesian co-ordinates as their common basis - thus we speak today a new scientific language which can be understood by a Russian or an American, irrespective of geographical or linguistic frontiers.

 

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Such are some of the suggestive features of modern knowledge, into the correct and revised context of which old wine has to be put into newer and newer bottles to help the understanding of present-day humans, so as to make them feel free through a truth both experienced as well as conceived. At the Omega limit we have the unknown and the unknowable; at the Alpha limit we have the source of all things in their original matrix which is homogeneous in content but follows the outline of the Self that alone can grasp or experience it. Concept and percept thus condition and limit each other in this matrix which is both physical and metaphysical, insofar as it implies a logistic matrix where semiotic processes can live and move.

 

The failure of the Michelson-Morley experiment; the Lorentz transformations as well as the contraction of Fitzgerald - all make meaning, with the velocity of light as constant, only in this new version of the universe which is neither like earth nor water, but participates neutrally in both - and my only excuse is that I am warning him that hereafter in my writings I shall be taking these matters for granted. By way of concluding the situation to which we have so far kept company as reader and writer together, let me be allowed to sum up schematically the bare framework which we have tried to justify and understand in respect of the Absolute as the highest significant value in life. The following figure and indications are self-explanatory.

 

Along with the static figures, we have to supply the dynamic aspects of the motor-scheme in which life is a process with a double assertion and a double negation involved. The paradoxical will still remain to be solved by inner experience. Here imagination and intuition have to work hand in hand to bring the goal of human understanding within the grasp of the seeker. Peace or happiness describes the goal.

 

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THE DYNAMICS OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS

Life is a pulsation that can conquer the future or clarify the past with its lucid transparency when all opaque factors of dross are banished by a boldly determined will to understand. The two limits within which life's values, ontological or ideological, are confined snap their hold and the spirit moves about within its amplitude to range within the field, as structurally outlined above. Transcendental exaltation can neutralize a down-to-earth apodictic certitude, and both result together in a normative inner experience of truth. This truth is not elsewhere nor at another point in time. It is already with us. We have only to assert it vertically and deny it horizontally. The various phases of such an inner dynamism will be seen in the verses of the Guru's major works which we have translated and commented upon profusely elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

Life is a dynamic spiritual progression through fields of beauty, joy or freedom. A secret Gaussian curve is implied in such a progress to the goal. This takes place in a spiral ascent or descent within the colourfully-transparent tetrahedron or dome of life, refracting values that end in events pleasing or unpleasant. Each event implies the meeting-point of occasional probabilities with their corresponding descending possibilities - to be conceived individually or collectively or both. At the existence level the event could be a thing of beauty; at the subsistent level it could be a pearl of truth to be understood inwardly; and at the top value-level it could represent a price with which to measure all other lesser values in life.

 

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The soul of man ascending the vertical parameter within the colour-solid of crystal could be a vermicular figure like that of an aeroplane propeller. Both action and retroaction have to be thought of as possible here. These are perhaps somewhat over-fanciful ideas, but without freedom for the flow of fancy, speculation cannot soar on its proper wings but needs must flutter and fall from its mid-air career, especially when we are in search of absolute value.

 

No apologies to conventional writing will therefore be made from now onwards. The freelance, the franc-tireur, the non-conformist or open attitude to new visions of the unknown is avowedly accepted as a model for our speculative writings of the future, which could be called vague reveries, both wakeful and half-sleeping like a kind of day-dreaming going on continuously. It is in such a crucible that fable and fact can mix. Absolute truth can find only in such a matrix its natural habitat.

 

Neither prose nor poetry is good enough for the full style of this kind of writing. What we have in mind could be called a confection of free verse mixed with the rules of a sonnet in strict Petrarchan pentameters, interspersed with factual prose at random. Prose and poetry, like savouries and sweets, must tickle the palate alternately to spell out the satori that is in the simple vacancy of a pure or empty life - i.e. empty with the content of the Absolute that is beyond paradox or doubt. Life would then be for itself, in itself and by itself.

 

MY EARLY POETIC CAREER

It is said of a famous English poet that his father punished him for trying prematurely to be a poet. I had a similar juvenile ambition and had a well-bound notebook from my father's student days filled with sonnets and Wordsworthian lyric poetry composed by myself. I was less than sixteen when I wrote my first sonnet, 'On Sunrise from Adam's Peak, Ceylon, 1908'. I proudly emblazoned on the notebook the words 'The Complete Poetical Works of P. Natarajan'. Some strange thought that crossed my mind, however, a few years later, made me destroy that volume of about fifty pages of lyrics, translations and sonnets and throw the torn sheets into the dustbin.

 

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I do not even now regret this act without which perhaps my genius would have remained stultified in bad poetry, rather than finding a scientific outlet in good though heavy-going prose for over 4000 pages for which I have been responsible to this day. Phrase-manipulation and word-building or playing with the mechanics of English syntax has been my hobby all through my life. Long translations from the Malayalam of Kumaran Asan's 'Fallen Flower' and 'Nalini' were on the pages of that lost notebook. These received the praise of the original author. One noble Petrarchan sonnet was devoted to Swami Vivekananda who was my hero of adolescent years. I cannot recollect the actual words. The third was devoted to the event of climbing Zermatt valley in Switzerland. Yet another sonnet was devoted to a beautiful Italian lady who I had to praise because of a lot that was cast of names at the international school near Geneva where I taught. I got the prize for this competition in which many other English-speaking teachers also competed. Such is my record as a poet which I now want to continue in my own particular way in a style both reminiscent of English literary tradition as well as an Upanishadic one more truly mine as an Indian. My last sonnet of the series that I started so early in my life was the one written at Labro in Italy. By way of keeping up this habit of expressing myself through sonnets at least once in a decade, let me try my hand again here by way of conclusion:

 

TO MOUNT ELY

0 Island peak brooding over the deep, Mount Ely,

That from a small mouse derived thy name

Tho' thy long tale could vie with Himalaya's fame.

Inspire thy votary, whose eye, sweeping over sky and sea

Would wing its way, past all dross of memory.

As when Hippalos, Marco or Batuta around thee came

With palmer, pirate, or hunter of fortune's luxury.

Since then many a billow broke and red sun set,

Eternally announcing the Word in low or loud voice,

As already heard at Sinai, while its echo met

The same from within each heart in hope to rejoice,

Engulfed in one surpassing glow of a double light,

Eclipsing day and night yet not darkness nor too bright!

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY SIX

 

PROPHETS, IDOLS AND HIPPIES

Reveries, when free from the dead weight of the past, can wing their way freely from the 'alone to the Alone'. Suns can rise or set and eternal breezes blow, proclaiming the same Word, independent of actual space and time under a law of interchangeable cause or effect in the purely qualitative core of Absolute Space. Here the logic with contradiction meets to neutralize the logic without it, understood as a vertical parameter of high word-value. Such was the note on which we ended our previous thoughts. The Self is placed at the core like a helicoidal structural entity ever expressing itself through pulsations of alternating light or dark, ascending or descending the parameter by double correction, or reciprocal compensation, or even neutral cancellation.

 

The term of all reveries is revealed in such a vision where sound and symbol may be said to meet in a golden lamb seated on the throne of God himself as a supreme principle of sacrifice needed for wisdom to become fully absolute. A bright and a dark orb join here side by side and back to back, rising or setting together in the same space - neither within nor without the Self-consciousness. One can experience or understand this alternately or together till all throbbing vibrations or pulsations come to a standstill in the Absolute. Reveries can then reach their term of flight into the unknown and become one with the unknown itself, in silence mute.

 

THE PROPHETIC AND THE APOCALYPTIC

The Apocalypse of the Bible and revealed religions like Islam represents the prospective trend in spiritual thought. When pushed to their limits, prophetic religions tend to become apocryphal. Over-rich in fancy, they tend to lack ontological control, as it were, from the negative pole. Jehovah and Zeus with his thunderbolt suggest gods who are angry and punish sinners or evil-doers. Unlike Demeter, who lacks that prophetic touch, Dionysian and Olympian gods take up intermediate positions on a vertical axis between the Alpha and Omega Points in the scale of values.

 

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The range for prophecy thus lies between the source of all knowledge in the Self and the Omega Point in a vertical ascending scale of reference. The frenzy of prophets like Jeremiah - before which Jericho was to fall, like Babylon and Jerusalem later in the spiritual history of the world - represents that positive attitude which marks out prophetic religions from others with a lukewarm fervour for life's higher values. Razing the stones of ancient cities to build on their ruins a New Jerusalem or Rome is the idiom familiar in the mouths of prophets who are not merely passive onlookers. Prophets are throbbing instruments of God ready to plunge into most effective and radical action at a given moment. Such is of the very essence of the impetus of the will to live, to believe, and to create a new order from the old.

 

When St. John the Divine wrote the Revelations he marked out the final point at which the future could be conquered - though only expressed in allegorical terms. God's wrath or voice is more or less vehement or mild; but when fully sublime it expresses itself in apocryphal mystical poetry of a high order. The Day of Judgement or Doom, the end of the world, or the time when there shall be gnashing of teeth and clenching of fists, etc. - bring up the limiting point in this positive impetus of revelation, revaluation, prophetic frenzy or agony.

 

Fanaticisms, orthodoxies or heterodoxies with attendant possibilities for martyrdom to or for a strong doctrine or article of faith, are tragic items which form corollaries to this prophetic attitude to Absolute Truth. Socrates, Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno, Rousseau, Joan of Arc, Hypateia, and Heloïse and Abelard bring up the long list of heroes or heroines of peace who were fervent devotees of Truth. Reformations and counter-reformations - in which sometimes there is nothing much to distinguish between the two fervent sides involved in the challenging and responding - go on in the pageant of religious history the world over at all times. The blood of sacrifice is shed, whether human or animal, of lamb or calf - often involving an innocent Isaac or Iphigenia in this cruel progression of tragic necessity in the history of religions.

 

Without a dispassionate outlook on such matters the tragedy is bound to be repeated forever. It is the sober Science of the Absolute alone that can make humans see that the offering of a cucumber to propitiate God has the same symbolic or semantic effect in terms of wisdom - which is all that counts. Isaac was about to be sacrificed by primitive unwisdom. A mathematical God can be appeased by a merely symbolic gesture.

 

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All wisdom is thus merely meant to save man from treating sacrifice too realistically with its horizontally actual or real implications of death or bloodshed. Ironically, however, wrong absolutism can itself defeat this purpose and help to heighten the tragedy instead of mitigating its evils. Patriotism demands blood sacrifices in war. A Calvin or a Luther had on their faces the same fervour of the Jewish prophets of old. There is a cruelty evident on their features which was in the name of some stern duty coming from a vague voice of God.

 

It is thus the whole truth understood in its neutral non-dual glory that can save man from future possible genocide. Such bloodshed can add or detract nothing from Absolute Value, correctly conceived. The reactions that we are now beginning to witness in the Church with the revolt of youth must be understood as protests by the coming generation against the exaggeration of prophetic values. Youth can no more be threatened by doomsday or punishments in Hades.

 

IDOLATRY AND IDEALATRY

The three great prophetic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, unequivocally forbid with a categorically emphatic voice the adoration of man-made idols. Before the desert sands of Mount Sinai were reached by tribes who later became transformed through history into these religious groups such a condemnation of idol-worship was little known. In India the worship of idols is so general that no one gives a thought to see if it has any evil elements lurking within it. The whole of East Asia from Bodh Gaya to Kamakura is strewn with millions of images of the Enlightened One in meditation, sometimes smiling, sometimes sad.

 

The language of the worship of icons has been more esoterically perfected on South Indian soil where, starting from the phallic model of the Shiva Lingam through Pasupati or Ganapati, thousands of forms, often with multiple series of heads or hands, are worshipped zealously with full zest by votaries of the many gods permitted by the Hindus.

 

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A complex protolinguistic imagery is implied in them and, like the Cross, the stone or metal icon is used consciously or unconsciously as a structural version of the highest God, whether called Shiva, Vishnu or Brahma. Each of these forms marks three points or cross-sections in the grand process of phenomenal becoming in the heart of the Absolute. Ideals and idols are meant to meet here in reversible or interchangeable terms.

 

The hierarchy of divinities or demiurges of the Hindu Pantheon are infinitely numerous. The Upanishads give us a choice between three gods to start with and thirty three or thirty three thousand three hundred and thirty three as the ramified classes or sets are further elaborated into corresponding sub-sets. All these meet in a class of classes at the central point of origin. The elemental, hierophantic, or animistic entities which do not belong to the prophetic context are to be given their positions between the Alpha Point and the point of origin at the central zero. After the zero thus touched, the prophetic side contains similar positive, conceptual or theological values representing deities like Zeus or Apollo, Indra or Varuna - hypostatic entities of the positive side, having a one-one correspondence with the elementals.

 

Above and below, thus conceptually and perceptually understood at once and together, we have a schematic pattern where hypostatic gods have their corresponding hierophantic values represented below as above by a one-one correspondence between sets of equal status in the duplicated ensembles.

 

Thus we get a variegated double schematic pattern, within as without, as when the glow of embers is projected through holes in a perforated fire-pot - to use the example of Sankara in his Daksinamurtistava (Verse 4). It is this double-sided Self, neutrally placed between the negative and positive aspects respectively of the Self and the non-Self, that is to be kept in mind when a correct idol-worshipper worships idols fully, knowing the Agamas (secondary wisdom literature of applied spirituality) in the proper context of Vedantic wisdom.

 

Narayana Guru, who had to install many images at the request of his disciples, ended such a programme by asking them to be satisfied with a mirror in place of an idol, so as to bring Self and non-Self face to face. Such worship, inasmuch as it adores the Absolute, is not to be treated on a par with mere idolatry objected to by the prophetic religions trying to rise above sordid relativist values.

 

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Thus there can be an idolatry regulated by correct idolatry, as distinct from mere fetishism regulating such. In every case it is the Self as an idol that is equated to the non-Self as an ideal or vice-versa. The implications of such an osmotic exchange of values are moreover inevitable in any form of adoration, Christian or Pagan, prophetic or primitive. Every form of adoration is as between an adorer placed in the Self and the adored in the non-Self; the one being a mirror-reflection of the other, with neither of them superior within the homogeneous matrix of the Absolute. It is the absolute value that counts finally.

 

TOTEMISM, FETISHISM AND IDOLS

When Muhammad iconoclastically broke the idols of Mecca but left intact a meteorite in the Kaaba to mark a place of annual pilgrimage for millions of his believers, he meant only to abolish a plurality of local, fixed, tribalistic fetishisms or totemisms, but not idols which are God-made like our own bodies.

 

A beautiful Mumtaz-i-mahal (the elect of the palace) was glorified in marble in the Taj Mahal. The prophetic impetus here unconsciously turned retrospective in the Mogul emperor, Shahjahan, and fixed in an idealised worship of feminine virtue or beauty. When a man or a woman admire themselves in a mirror, a subtle and perhaps a naturally excusable form of idolatry or fetishism might be implied. The towers of a church or mosque - being local, fixed and man-made things - can be looked upon as open to the same objection. The four minarets and dome in Santa Sophia of Constantinople or Istanbul glorify, perhaps unconsciously, the virtue of virginity, purity, chastity or austerity as could be reflected in architecture. The minarets protect a rare value such as a vineyard where the black beauties of the Song of Solomon were to be jealously guarded against mixing with all and sundry outside. Avoiding idolatry, even in these subtle implied forms, is thus not easy in any civilization. Viewed in a correct perspective, the image, the idea, the percept and concept, name or form, can be made to meet and cancel out effectively in the Absolute.

 

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THE LIVING WORD AND THE DEAD LETTER

The bronze image of a Shiva Nataraja dancing in glory over the recumbent figure of its own negativity of value is a supreme example of how a dead image can speak a living word and cancel out the static by the dynamic within the amplitude of a two-fold frenzy.

 

When unilaterally understood, both the word and the letter can be alternately dead or living; and when correctly viewed in a dialectical perspective proper to the absolutist context where the sign or symbol can operate semiotically along a parameter representing a constant differential factor, the objection against one or the other can vanish. Non-dialectically understood, idolatry alone is therefore evil, but is not so when it is dynamic, where name and form meet, revealing supreme Value.

 

The Taj Mahal is a marble structure reminiscent of a woman's beauty that a Mogul emperor treated with respect or admiration. Appreciation of such a building has implicit in it the same intentional value-content as an idol such as that of a Nataraja in bronze, where the essence of the bipolarity involved is critically understood. Idolatry in one form or other enters by the back door of adoration, implicitly or explicitly; and even when one anoints oneself or orders a luxury bath in a high-class hotel one can be charged with making a fetish of one's own body. Some latitude has thus to be made so that iconoclasm itself may not become a fanatical fixed idea. Both ideolatry and idolatry can be equally objectionable when not viewed in the proper context of absolutism to which both must non-dualistically belong without conflict.

 

Crates, a Greek philosopher, is said to have had a woman philosopher companion, Hipparichia, who insisted on behaving as his wife, without any sex being implied between them. Unable to get rid of her, he allowed her to go about with him wherever he went to teach. She once had a strange argument with the man, which ran somewhat as follows: 'If you beat yourself you are doing harm. If I beat you up it must be the same'. On hearing this, the man threatened that he would strip the woman, but she showed no objection from a womanly standpoint. This incident (in Diogenes Laertius, VI. 97-98) shows how, when man and woman are correctly related dialectically, both together interpenetrate into one personality, as in the case of the androgynous Shiva, where the image and the idea can merge vertically and with a perfect complementarity so as to reveal the same Absolute Value beyond conflict.

 

The marble statue of the Guru Narayana, installed at Varkala on January 1st of this year, could be treated dialectically so as to abolish its stigma of unilaterally static implications. The secret here is contained in Chapter III, Verse 10, of the Darsana Mala of the Guru Narayana.

 

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It is up to the worshippers and those who installed the statue to make this aspect of their worship clearer than what they have been able to do through ignorance of this dialectical approach.

 

DIARY LEAVES

As promised, the autobiographical memories here become changed into diary-leaf notes covering each month. I had told my story up to my seventy-third birthday celebration at Somanhalli in my last instalment. It was just enough to mark a milestone in my life, in which the thoughts about myself retrospectively understood were the subject-matter.

 

As a local-fixed entity at a point in time, my birthday has no importance, but as a phenotype of a universal concrete human being at a given point in time, I have my significance for all human beings forever. I have a dark human side and a bright divine side complementarily mixed up as interpenetrating counterparts in my personality. The interplay of the idea and the image, the sign and the symbol, the visible and the intelligible, can attain to cancellable transparency of crystalline colour or smokiness, or else have an alternating iridescent glow of tints, shades or saturations. Every man has essentially the same elements in play within his life. In this sense my own story is meant to be that of anyone else. The plus and the minus, the male and the female aspects, are always present even in the purest of celibate sannyasins. It is the mind that matters over the body as such.

 

From mid-February to mid-March my reveries were focused on man-woman relations and on an interesting summary of that characteristic negative revolt of youth in the West called variously the Unlimited Freak-Out (UFO), the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Hippies or Flower People. The latest news that has interested the Indian public in this connection is that this movement has taken favourably to Indian spirituality or mysticism - at least as represented by Mahesh Yogi of Rishikesh. But first let me cover matter-of-fact events of this period before going into side reveries connected with them.

 

I left Fernhill for Bangalore on February 11th, 1968, and took a taxi from Mysore to reach 16, Infantry Road, quite early the same evening. The Kumars were waiting for me.

 

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Maya put me in the Somanhalli bus at about ten and I reached John's place to have lunch and rest time there before reaching the 18th mile Gurukula by 4 PM. Preparations were underway there under Mogappa's guidance and the place was to have a face-lift with whitewashings and a pandal to be decorated ready for the birthday of the 18th.

 

The function went off well with about eight hundred persons fed biryani (fried rice), payasam (milk pudding) and buttermilk chutney. The usual visitors came and a greater influx of local devotees sat and sang bhajans (hymns) together with a meeting in the morning where Mr. Kariappa, a leader of the district, spoke in support of Gurukula ritual and teachings. The second edition of The Word of the Guru was brought speedily by air from Ernakulam by Mr. Pai, the publisher himself, and was released for sale. Prasad came from Varkala and conducted the fire-ritual, which was taught to a local group.

 

Gopi came again and remembered the sad story of his separation and reunion so reminiscent of what Victor Hugo pictured in respect of the heart pangs of the father of Marius of 'Les Misèrables', who was reported to be seen at a certain seat in a church and to shed sobbing tears through the years, as others noticed, at the sight of a boy and a nurse who came to the same church. He was the father of the boy but a cruel lawsuit based on class discrimination had prohibited him from ever visiting him. He consoled himself by watching the boy as he grew up through his teens, with tears shed Sunday after Sunday.

 

In Gopi's case the pang of separation had disappeared. He had shed tears of joy the year before for their reunion, and this time the separation was for maternity reasons only. In spite of all this, the same tears rolled again down his cheeks and the same emotions overwhelmed him as on two previous occasions. Emotions are in all of us, independent of events, waiting to express themselves. Solipsism seems thus a conditioning natural to man, and we are unhappy or happy with or without sufficient outer reasons. Some Hippies are said to be able to induce in themselves a 'honey of the spirit'. Tears could perhaps be as sweet in certain cases, of which Gopi must be a good example. There is no basic difference between a smile and a tear, four-dimensionally speaking. Disasters do not happen to man, but we happen to disasters.

 

I started for Erode on the 22nd at noon, and after a similar but smaller birthday celebration at the new Gurukula hilltop on February 25th, returned to Fernhill on the 27th evening.

 

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One of the news items missed out in the Gurukula news refers to the marriage of Fred Haas with Shadja, a young Kerala teacher with whom he has been friendly for some years. The news of their registration as husband and wife came as rather a surprise. Civic marriage as such is non-understandable in the Gurukula context, which can be characterized in the language of the pop music of the underground as 'anti-middle-age, anti-boss-class and anti-young-marrieds'. Absolutism tends to be deaf or dead to civic respectability as such, and the sannyasa pattern of life cannot easily accommodate within its scope couples bracketed with each other whose interests, by necessity, are bound together by horizontal factors such as earning and supporting a prospective or real family. As in propositional calculus, if 'p' and 'q' are related as binary elements, there are sixteen possibilities of fact or logic-truth probabilities in such a relationship. It must have been for this reason that Narayana Guru himself laid down a rule for all ashrams (absolutist retreats) that men and women should live separately and mix only when they help higher values to manifest.

 

Fred had consulted me on how he was to fit into the Gurukula as a married man in mid-November 1967, when the marriage proposal was first mentioned. Fred had not yet made up his mind to live in the Gurukula. At the Gurukula convention at the end of the year. Fred took off his sannyasi robes and together we went fully into the implications of his continuing in the Gurukula as a married man. John got both of them to sign an agreement so as to keep the Gurukula from being involved too much with individuals who have to favour each other above Gurukula general interests. The conflict of the Good of All and the General Good had to be avoided.

 

I was therefore happy to meet the couple at Somanhalli on the morning of February 14th. Shadja looked a less formidable woman than I had imagined and reminded me (as I told her as a joke) of the heroine of Bernard Shaw's 'A Black Girl in Search of God'. Whether she is a good woman or not, as with any other woman, cannot be judged by my masculine standards of goodness or badness. Such is the paradoxically dialectical snag here. I have nothing against marriage, as some might suspect. In fact I am definitely for it for the simple reason that it is normal to man and woman.

 

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In the name of false spirituality sex tends to be discredited by great religions like Buddhism and Christianity.

 

Narayana Guru had warned me against obstructing marriage on the very first occasion that I mentioned to him my idea of starting a Gurukula. I wish to respect this hint to the fullest extent, but wish also to be guided by the logistics and dialectics of the situation, which is by no means a simple and mechanically solvable one. One has to face double loss or double gain in this kind of bargain. One has to be prepared always, however, to take the cash and let the credit go, in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer. A full formula for all such coupling contingencies is expected to be evolved as experience gains ground.

 

THE NEW ABSOLUTIST CHALLENGE OF THE HIPPIES

On February 21st, before I left Bangalore for Erode, John put into my hands a magazine called Encounter (October 1967) in which I was to read an article, 'A Map of the Underground' by Peter Fryer. John himself had sympathies with the 'Underground' and he has been helpful throughout these last decades in drawing my attention to any interesting articles or other publications in English which he thought would particularly interest me.

 

The article by Peter Fryer covered nine sections, with a crowding-in of information about what the sub-title specified as 'The Flower-Power Structure and the London Scene'. We shall examine the concluding sections mainly to offer our remarks, in order to bring the movement into proper perspective in relation to a Science of the Absolute we have ourselves always stood for.

 

IX (p. 20): The writer refers to the 'fundamental solipsism' of the Hippies which prevents them from a 'campaign on civil liberties issues'. 'Sensation is the essence of life' according to them, by which 'practical activity' is considered 'meaningless' by them. They look upon themselves as 'self-sufficient individuals'. As stated by Beatle George Harrison, one of their spokesmen, 'Try to realise it is all within yourself. No one else can make you change'. In ushering in their Golden Age, 'policemen are kissed and given flowers and offered a month's pay if they will leave the force and look for another job'. On the basis of the above, the over-all charge that the writer flings at the Hippies is that they are 'solipsistic' and suffer from 'puerility'.

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'Solipsism,' like pantheism, as an objection to spirituality could be both deprecatory or laudatory in the light of a total and scientific view of a science of human values. Here it is flung at the Beatles and Hippies as a kind of nickname for purposes of discrediting them or by way of caricature. It is the same with eclecticism and syncretism, which are similarly seen to be used by critics of Vedanta and religious writers in the West. To follow aggressive political programmes interfering with others cannot be compatible with watchwords such as 'liberty, equality and fraternity', which are basic to the search for collective human happiness as declared as the first desideratum for any popular constitution or movement. Even modern physics recognizes a degree of subjectivism in its epistemological outlook.

 

VIII: The Importance of Colour: The serious charge referred to in this section is 'mindlessness', lack of 'critical intelligence' and lack of 'outstanding talent'. Other expressions meant to discredit them are 'cultural nihilism' and 'iconoclasm', together with 'outright mysticism'. The Hippies are also blamed because they 'gaze for hours at abstract coloured lights'. They are not interested in football pools or in television, but 'simply dream'. The writer admits, however, that there are similarities between these occupations of older people and the 'full-time dropout' or Hippy.

 

This interest in coloured light is the discovery of the structure of the Self in man. By including colour as a reality in the Self the Hippies and the Beatles are on the verge of a great discovery of the universal concrete reality within themselves. This discovery by itself will have a greater revolutionary value for the world of tomorrow than any aggressive political programme, howsoever rationally conceived.

 

VII: In an earlier section more specific references are made to the possibilities of a language free from words or a way by which 'non-verbal communication' is attained by Hippies. 'The visitor sees a collection of charming but withdrawn individuals, smiling vaguely at friends, jerked at times by the music's rhythms, but ultimately quite self-sufficient and self-absorbed as each intently explores his private world and savours his private visions'. It is a 'contentless' form of entertainment. The 'aim is to communicate intuitively rather than verbally. Tight and bright-coloured dresses go with the 'hung-on-you style' that is at present catching on. All this is also becoming a paying concern'.

 

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'Stroboscopes project flickering lights which are supposed to synchronise with the brain's alpha rhythms'. 'Much use is made of hollow slides, into which coloured oils and other fluids (evolving jelly etc.) are injected'. Both musical and 'extra-musical effects' are used, which the others outside this 'sub-generation' cannot understand, and they anticipate 'printed culture to be doomed' in the 'Golden Age' that is being ushered in when youth will 'slough out' of the old. To the same context belong the 'doctrine of inner space' and 'Flower Power'. All this is implied in a 'state of mind'. The stage itself is meant to represent what is sometimes referred to as an 'experimental environment.'

 

VI: This is the longest section in the article, devoted to how the drug act is being misapplied to these gentle non-aggressive youth of a much-misunderstood sub-generation who dream of 'breaking through to the spiritual fountainhead within each person, instead of taking it from any authority' Cannabis users are cruelly rounded up in London by the police. Marijuana and LSD, like the Vedic soma juice, induce a 'dreamy state' where 'love, career, ambition, home and family-formation' are pushed into the background. The adolescent revolt is based on inner experience such as 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds' or other visions of 'marmalade skies' or having 'kaleidoscope eyes'. Such experiences are referred to as 'mind-blowing' or 'mind-expanding' or 'psychedelic'. In such a state they 'try not to hurt people' although smashing musical instruments in an attitude of nonchalance is sometimes considered normal. The actual drug-addicts are said to be 'one in fifteen'. Alcohol-based morality is repugnant to cannabis smokers. Many young innocents suffer from blind police harshness. One of the sympathisers with these people put up £18,000 to pay for a full-page advertisement in The Times of July 24th, 1967, under the caption, 'The Law against Marijuana is Immoral in Principle and Unworkable in Practice'. Medically speaking, the drugs favoured by the Underground are said to be far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco (Storr, Sunday Times, Feb. 5, 1967).

 

The subject of the relation of drugs to mystical feelings is not directly connected with the philosophy of the 'adolescent revolt.' All we have to say here is that the anti-drug law must be applied with a sense of equality, justice and human understanding, whether by the London police or by their counterparts in the USA.

 

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The remaining earlier sections of the article deal with the attempts to put down the movement in the name of indecency or pornography. Elizabethan morals, mostly outmoded now, are in vain and convey a sense of humour and anachronism as they are upheld by the London police in respect of this young generation. About the nature of the Hippies and the Underground themselves, the following summary extracted from the first section of the article must suffice.

 

They have been described as 'These natural-born heirs to the Beat Generation' who represent an 'anti-authority and anti-police syndrome, comprising a related cluster of organisations in London with widespread American affiliations. The UFO (Unlimited-Freak-Out) Club in Tottenham Court Road, London, acts sometimes as its mouthpiece. They are further described as 'internal émigrés' or as a 'Freudian proletariat'. Their guiding principles are enumerated as follows: (1) Do your own thing, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says or does; (2) Drop out; (3) Turn on every straight person you can reach - if possible, with cannabis or LSD; if not, turn him on to beauty, honesty, fun and love; (4) If authority interferes with you, love it to death'. One section is called 'Diggers', who dispense food and clothes. A favourite song sums up the attitude of Hippiedom as follows: 'With our love - we could save the world - if they only knew'.

 

Now that the Hippies or at least the Beatles have taken sympathetically to the 'Transcendental Meditation' of Mahesh Yogi of Rishikesh, the details about them given under these reveries may help others like me to try and understand them. My own estimate is that they are not to be treated light-heartedly. In them I see the beginnings of a new start in an absolutist way of life in the youth of the West. It is a fully-stated Science of the Absolute alone that can save them and save humanity from the kind of mess against which theirs is a vague and still to-be-formulated protest.

 

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I dedicate the following sonnet to them:

 

TO THE FLOWER PEOPLE

Sweet Flower People, known by whatever name,

Beatle, Hippie, or Freak-Out of the Underground,

Come let us speak the secret language we have found

In non-verbal colour patterns, which watched become

Eloquent within each of us, revealing the same

Contentless glory by mere union of light and sound,

Expansive mystical experience of sweetness unbound,

Pointing from dark infamy here to tomorrow's bright fame!

To me, a stranger by clime and time, do extend

Halfway round the globe your ever-loving hand,

A fellow pilgrim long labouring for the same and

With you, young, long-haired, bright-eyed orphans of

Wonderland - Let us together witness in inner space,

abstract and mute,

The dark-splendid colourful vision of the Absolute.

 

(Fernhill, Nilgiris, India, March 4th, 1968)

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY SEVEN

 

THE ROLE OF PROTOLINGUISM IN UNIFYING SCIENCE

Reveries have to depend on moods. They do not have any direct relation with the cross-sectional world of actual dates or events. One travels in a liquid stream of consciousness when one sinks into reverie. The stream can be sluggish and carry the dreamer slowly, or it can be lightning-fast. Lazy day-dreaming and a split-second atomic explosion could be thought of as limiting instances.

 

The blinding light of such an explosion can efface all regrets and wipe off retrospections, except perhaps the most transparent of its rays which can look at reality both prospectively and retrospectively at once with the full mutual transparency of a direct or indirect luminosity. Self-luminosity and its reflected glory can become equally brilliant when full knowledge dawns.

 

THE APOCALYPTIC VISION

When the contemplative searchlight of vision is directed to the future of the Self in a most general and abstract sense, apocalyptic visions result, like those recorded in the words of St. John the Divine at the end of the New Testament in the book called Revelation.

 

Prophetic religions speak in a stern Zeus voice of a doomsday or day when all will have to stand before God to be judged; when there will be fire and brimstone portents, the clenching of fists, gnashing of teeth, eating of wormwood or drinking of gall; and when all relativisms will be absorbed into a grand synthesis in the supreme value of the Most High Godhead. Allah is equally uncompromising but is the very embodiment of generosity. Apodictic certitude about such matters results from axiomatic thinking where logical proof is not called for. The conclusions are said to be 'necessary' or the arguments 'adequate'.

 

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The goodness of God is an apodictic verity because it cannot be otherwise. It is the Omega Point in the structure of thought that decides such a question in the same way as when a teacher writes A=A and says it needs no demonstration or proof. All apocalyptic literature in any scripture, Parsi, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina, has such a basis for certitude; but when questionable contemplatives or authorities in theology write by guesswork and where imaginations run riot, the demands of pure axiomatic or intuitive thinking are vitiated. We then get a body of literature called apocryphal where the norms of thought come under suspicion of being loosely applied.

 

RELIGIOUS ART AND THEOLOGICAL SPECULATION

The glorification of the Lamb on a par with Godhead figures in prophetic art and literature to this day. In the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican one sees the painting of God the Creator on the ceiling represented as a full-blooded, though old, bearded and generous human form. Although God is not to be visualized too realistically, concessions are seen to be made in the name of Art or Literature when the value of such is sufficiently high. The Rosy Cross or the wondrous Cross of Fire are seen to be substituted - by the same need for myth-making in man - in the place of idols consisting of human figures. Islam is sometimes seen to tolerate the open palm as a symbol of the Most High, although all indirect language, even metaphorical analogy, is not approved.

 

The architecture of the house of God or the cubical walls of a New Jerusalem are not so strictly prohibited, and the Kaaba contains a meteorite which is acceptable to orthodox Muslims as a 'predicative' object of reverence not considered as coming under the worship of stones as such. It is supposed to represent the universal concrete coming from God and not from the hands of mortal man. Here both Islam and Christianity are seen to approve of structural instead of actual forms of humans or gods.

 

HINDUISM AND THE APOCALYPTIC NOTE

Epiphany, or having a visible vision of God, is not countenanced favourably in the light of correct Christian belief, although hearing God's voice is considered normal. There is a whole chapter in the Bhagavad Gita which might be said to be open to this objection. Hierophany, however, is recognized in the description of a hierophant or holy person with ecclesiastical authority.

 

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Visible gods seen from the earthly side are presences rather than divinities of hypostatic grades. The elementals and nature gods of the hylozoic or animistic context are generally omitted from the divinities of the prophetic religions.

 

It is the hypostatic idea of God which is favoured in this prophetic tendency in religious thought that developed beyond Sinai and round the Mediterranean regions. India has not been touched by this tendency very much. Wherever there was need in the scriptures for a god who would punish sinners, we find the opposite tendency stressed. Hindu thought has tended rather to glorify sex and other factors attributed to concupiscence as a gift of God, where rules of conduct are not transgressed. Krishna and even Vishnu enjoyed a normal sex life. They even included eroticism under the type of mysticism that they valued. The Hindu pantheon contains some jealous gods who lift cattle or steal wives, and a primitive form of pure natural sex is not taboo. These were all treated as nothing but human.

 

Rousseau in the West would also perhaps agree here. Pagan or classical gods like Bacchus or Hercules lost nothing of their dignity through being endowed with love of wine or women. The legendary 33,000 gods of Hinduism revel and run riot with hierophantic features of a Dionysiac rather than an Apollonian form of values. The carvings on the temple towers, especially in South India, support many grades of divine or semi-divine figures or entities; and both heaven and earth as well as inter-space tend to be overpopulated with mythical products of the fecund mystical imagination of which it is hard to teach the usual Hindu even now to be ashamed. The Puranas (traditional legends) and epics give recognition to all grades of hierophantic or hypostatic hierarchies. Their very language depends on these forms and denizens of the world of airy nothingness thus created to support popular contemplative or religious values. They have become an inevitable part of everyday life in India.

 

Fact and fancy thus interlace to make an otherwise humdrum life sufficiently interesting to the common people, giving them the wherewithal to build culturally closed commonwealths based on varied ideological or linguistic heritages. In a semi-dreamy state of existence the rich deposits of wisdom imbedded in language, like sediments that have settled on the bottom of a waterway or lake, remain thus everlastingly in the dull background of the collective or group consciousness.

 

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The mind of man finds consolation and repose in these figures drawn from the prototypes which fill the rich carvings of rock temples in India. This fanciful stone-language has its own dialectical way of communication.

 

In some of our earlier writings we have gone into the intricacies, delicacies and dialectics of this kind of speaking through stones across the frontiers of generations. Side by side with the metalanguage of signs, there is a more primitive and basic way of communication of deeply significant information which is made possible by geometric characteristics. These we have elaborated sufficiently under the name of protolinguistics. What we would like to underline here regarding protolinguistics is that there it is geometry that counts; while in metalinguistics, there is scope for algebraic expression. When both are used to the advantage of each other, wisdom gains in depth and clarity.

 

As a religion of a non-prophetic kind, Hinduism tends to favour protolinguistic expression through form. We find in it rich possibilities of an aspect of reality which remains only vaguely revealed to the more positive religions, which tend to favour metalinguistic expression. It is not a question here about which is superior. When put together into a common structural whole, both bring to light a powerful instrument of great beauty for research in thought.

 

A LANGUAGE OF UNIFIED SCIENCE

At the present moment we are on the verge of this momentous discovery in the history of humanity. When discoveries coming from adventures into outer space link up with the rich protolinguistic deposits in ancient literature, such as those found in the stone language or in the highly suggestive style of the Upanishads, we shall have in our hands a new means of approaching total or final reality which ever remains the one all-absorbing subject worthy of human understanding. The hierophantic gods of Hinduism and the structural suggestiveness of the Upanishads and even the Vedas, when looked upon in the light of semantics and logistics, reveal a rich outcropping of the human heritage which could be used to further the cause of human solidarity.

 

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THE WOODBRIAR TEMPLE FESTIVAL

Such is the apocalyptic vision which filled my reveries between the 15th of March and the 15th of April, 1968. My reveries on hierophanies started on the 15th April at the Subrahmanya Temple Festival, which I have been attending regularly for nearly twenty years. The installation of the stone image of the Lord Subrahmanya was performed by me accordingly.

 

This festival was meant mainly to appease the hunger of working people through an absolutist gesture of generosity, whereby all could eat ad lib at the table of the Deity, as it were, in contrast to Christian worship, where only intellectual food is distributed, even at the expense of a starving stomach. I was put down for a speech at 4 PM and I sat before a small audience of about a dozen people, and happened to speak on the very topic of these reveries.

 

After the festival, as just before it, Karunakaran and I were the guests of Major Kunhi Raman at Brookview Cottage, Gudalur, which was by itself a pleasant though short interlude. On the 16th evening we reached Fernhill Gurukula to stay one night only.

 

GITA CLASSES AT COIMBATORE

As a pleasant surprise we found Yati Nitya and two others from Varkala, V. Natarajan and Chandran, already at the Gurukula before us. Nitya and I had to compare notes and exchange ideas on many matters of detail in connection with interesting and ever-new developments in the widening Gurukula movement, with seven or eight centres beginning to function within the limits of India itself. We lost no time in briskly finishing this work. Dr. N. Subramaniam of Coimbatore came the next day (17th) at about eleven to take us all to Coimbatore for a couple of days' stay to give talks at the series of Gita lessons arranged to be given at the Savita Hall in that élite town. All of us left after lunch to go to the nursing home of Dr. Rithupaman, after a comfortable drive down the Nilgiris ghat road, driven by our friend Sankaran in his beautifully conditioned car.

 

There were three gatherings at which Yati Nitya and myself spoke, two at the Savita Hall where there was a gathering of about two hundred people interested in new comments on the Gita. I had to face an audience of orthodox persons who asked pointed questions about the semantic implications of Vedic texts. The other meeting consisted mainly of followers of the Guru Narayana. Most of them had come from Kerala to settle in Coimbatore.

 

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It took some explaining on the part of Nitya to show how Guru-wisdom and tribalistic loyalties to the great Guru as a social reformer or leader had to be treated separately. The Gurukula was interested only in the wisdom of the Guru. An impressive new building was being put up by the group to disseminate the Guru's teachings.

 

On the 19th I was taken back to the Gurukula after a lunch at Dr. Rithuparnan's, who was our chief host for the stay. Other contacts were also made and a new group of disciples or students became virtually founded at Coimbatore by this visit. Nitya and party went to Varkala the same day.

 

THE PLEASANT ROUND OF LIFE AT FERNHILL

I made plans to stay till mid-April at Fernhill. My daily life has fallen into a strict routine where recreation, reading, talks and quiet meditations, with meals at proper hours, keep my old-age life full of peace, ease and a sense of fulfilment. I never miss my mile walk down to the Lovedale Lake view and back uphill, taking the climb as easily and slowly as I can out of respect for my heart which I do not want to tax unduly. Old age and death have to be faced squarely with all they imply in the life of a man, just in the same way as when in infancy life was faced with a light-hearted, carefree nonchalance. Like morning and evening they have a reciprocal complementarity between them. They are counterparts to be cancelled out into a perfectly self-possessed normality or neutrality in the absolute and eternal moment.

 

FURTHER IMPLICATIONS OF STONE LANGUAGE

The talk I gave at Woodbriar festival set my reveries going forward in a certain direction. After returning from the Coimbatore trip, the refrains of some of the early devotional writings of the Guru Narayana kept ringing within me as an automatism of word-idea content.

 

The six-headed Subrahmania represents vertically the six points where plexuses indicate psychophysical functional synergic centres. There is a sinuous bend at the hip of the sculpture which represents the function of a simple harmonic wave or rhythm, corresponding to the Gaussian curve or Fourier function which regulates all alternately phased life-pulsations where wave and frequency functions enter into complementary relations from the possible as well as the probable sides of the total cosmic phenomenological situation.

 

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Each such event takes place at the core of the vertical axis, and the androgynous God of the Cosmic Dance, Nataraja, represents these functions which are now clearly known to modern physics and mathematics. The female principle is the negative and the male the positive impulse. Subrahmanya and his elder-born, Ganesa, represent between them the same complementarity in this proto-linguistic dialectical language spoken through stones.

 

STRUCTURALISM IN MODERN PHYSICS

Post-Hilbertian mathematics, where algebra and geometry meet on common mathematical ground, together with the implications of the theory of ensembles of Cantor and others, has brought to light the legitimacy or adequacy of axiomatic and structural thought. These stem out of the schematismus of Kant, which was restated in dynamic terms as a 'schéma moteur' by Bergson. In terms of biology, and in the context of osmotic interchange between liquids of different concentrations, exosmosis and endosmosis are spoken of as two complementary living processes going on hand in hand. The terms of electromagnetics and thermodynamics, with their theories such as that of the big bang, or that of the violet or red shifts in an expanding or contracting universe where supernovae or twin dwarf stars create positive or negative disturbances in interstellar or galactic space, are all becoming familiarly incorporated into language. Implosion and explosion, entropy and negentropy regulating microcosmic or macrocosmic events or happenings, are now part of the pattern of thought-expression beginning to overcome and break through the old frontiers of vernaculars.

 

What I have surprisingly come up against in my most recent reveries is that there is an epoch-making discovery of the first order which needs to be openly stated - in stating which I become bolder and bolder each day, especially after the long efforts I have made recently in giving form to an 'Integrated Science of the Absolute.'

 

From the times of the Vedas or the Pentateuch a certain mystical, structural, wisdom-language has persisted in all lands, incorporated in literature of a magical or apocryphal order. The conundrums found in Upanishadic literature have presented a major challenge even to masterminds such as Sankara and Ramanuja, each of whom tried to fit them into a consistently global or whole philosophical vision of their own.

 

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The high quality of literature we have inherited from these great teachers and their successor-disciples has all but left the great heritage of wisdom in a cul-de-sac. The light of scientific philosophy from the West, like that of Minkowski who viewed the structure of time-space in an absolutist context; and the three great theories of Einstein: the restricted, the general and the unified relativistically - have all now come together to support us in our speculations. Metaphysics and physics can be expected soon to reveal a Unified Science of a Truth which cannot be dual or plural. Such suppositions would hurt the understanding of man and demolish the axiomatic basis for all speculation.

 

Cartesian co-ordinates and reversible equations give us new references of thought. The language of pagan hierophany has as much to teach as the more refined, civilised or conventional language of hypostatic prophetic values. Scientific certitude is where both of these can meet. If put together they would result in a language of unified and universal science - dissolving all the mental or actual frontiers that man places between himself and his fellow men. The confusion of tongues after the Tower of Babel would vanish, and thus human understanding would gain a pace forward in its progress to the goal of that Truth which shall make man free. Such are some of the bold reveries or fancies that have filled my thoughts.

 

THE UNIFIED LANGUAGE OF STRUCTURALISM

Revelations or apocalyptic literature, along with the mythology of nations, tries to speak a contemplative language across linguistic frontiers or actual ones, which tragically create misunderstandings between culture and culture. All speculation must have a normative reference. Just as sailing without longitudes and latitudes drawn for structural purposes across the globe is dangerous; so too with speculation, which should not sail in the mist without a compass and rudder guiding and regulating its possibilities or probabilities. A structural language alone can save man from shipwrecks, major or minor, due to hidden rocks or gliding icebergs. There are streams and currents, besides trade winds, to keep in mind. High and low tide floods have also to be counted. Therefore, it is not a fanciful recommendation on our part to speak of this new approach.

 

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A LANGUAGE WITHOUT PARABLES

Religions so far have spoken in parables or proverbs. Jesus himself is seen to be aware of a new and more universal language suited for speculation or theorisation, whether physical or metaphysical when, as we read in St. John's Gospel (XVI. 25). He says:

 

'These things I have spoken unto you in proverbs; but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.'

 

This same promise is foreshadowed in the book of Revelation where, towards the end of the book (Chapter XXI) we have unmistakable indications of a language with fully evident structural implications:

 

'I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end'. (6)

 

'And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God'. (10)

 

'Having the glory of God, and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal'. (11)

 

'And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof'. (15)

 

'And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal'. (16)

 

'And I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it'. (22)

 

'And the city had no need of the sun neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof'. (23)

 

Here we have an example of a kind of mythical or mystical language in which letters of the Greek alphabet are employed to advantage; as also mathematical and, what is more, colourfully solid geometrical or crystalline forms - speaking the lispings of a special schematic or structural language. It would be vain to unravel the mystery of the hints or suggestions thrown out here by St. John the Divine, inspired by angels or voices of God in the presence of the Lamb which has a very high status beside the throne of God. The beginnings of protolinguistic structuralism are thus foreshadowed in unmistakable terms at the end of the New Testament.

 

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As no believer or sceptic could be expected to be correctly balanced between tendencies to orthodoxy or its counterpart of heterodoxy - both of which tendencies necessarily co-exist in human nature - this apocalyptic text will be considered apocryphal by some, while a few will see in it the apodictic language of structuralism. Normalization and re-normalization of thought are here called for. In the light of what we have already written on such subjects we shall not venture one step further in reading meaning into this vision in which angels, gems, pearls, thrones, voices, with a bridegroom and an enthroned God - all shine in the heavenly light shed by the Lamb in a quadrangular, crystal-clear unit suggesting a tetrahedron, with the tree of life on either side of a stream. We can only say that it is interesting to note that Kant, Minkowski, Eddington, Weyl, Schroedinger, Riemann and a host of modern thinkers are also beginning to use a similar language. Fancifulness is not discredited by scientists any more.

 

By way of concluding these reveries, the following sonnet is offered as one instance of how fancies could follow modern scientific notions or at least not be incompatible with them:

 

A SONNET TO SCIENTIFIC IMMORTALITY

My birth was an accident to the world around

That happened with its echo within, in reciprocity,

When an electromagnetic wave-complementarity

Cancelled out in brilliant supersonic sound,

Condensing within a split-second span, Time-Space unbound,

Conforming to a colour-solid schema of power and beauty

Adequate to universal reason's instrumentality.

Verifying laws and equations on reversible ground:

Death must needs belong to a similar event,

Viewed as a retroactivity, catching up ever the same

Equal state - negentropy gathering what entropy spent,

While the twin-bang of implosion-explosion kept up the game;

No double loss here; only vertical gaining

Absolute Value counts; all else is horizontal feigning.

 

(Fernhill - March 29th, 1968)

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY EIGHT

 

MORE THOUGHTS ON HIPPIEDOM

As I turn my diary leaves I find that no event of importance transpired after I returned from my Coimbatore visit in mid-March until the end of that month. I continued my quiet days, planning practical details in view of the World Conference at the seaside Gurukula. My reveries were influenced during the first half of April by old articles by Allen Ginsberg, a top beatnik or hippie about whom John sent me a full report that had appeared in LIFE magazine. He was being referred to as a Guru, and this word seems to have found an acceptable place in the vocabulary of the English-speaking world. I corresponded with Garry, Marc and Harry and tried to explain how I looked upon the Conference about which they and John did not at first see eye to eye with me. A better basis for common effort has now been established.

 

On April 16th I started for Vythiri where Nitya with Mr. Pachukutty and Mr. Lohitakshan were to join me next day for consultations in respect of the school land there and in respect of the various committees to be nominated for the Peace Conference. Our work was finished on the same day and we reached Calicut by the 17th, at night. Nitya and I entrained for Payyanur on the morning of the 18th and reached our Island Home by 4 PM. Together we visited the Cheruvattur Gurukula and satisfied ourselves that the hundreds of trees and the cultivation there were being properly looked after and supported. On returning to Payyanur next day we had two public-speaking engagements; one opposite Payyanur Railway Station at night, and another on the 21st at the centre of Ramanthali township within our own island. We tried as best as possible to remove misgivings or suspicions in the public mind about our comings and goings, especially in respect of plans for a World Conference. The response showed support and confidence.

 

Nitya left Calicut on the 23rd, while I continued at the new Gurukula to help the two inmates there grow their own food and vegetable crops. I had the luxury of gazing on the expanse of the sky and ocean whenever I was not asleep, whether during the leisurely hours of midday or midnight.

 

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I discovered that such wakefulness was equal in status to sleep in the rest it gave, whether in terms of the positive or the negative aspect of the personal relational parameter or axis within whose amplitude rest moves up or down, giving its wakeful or sleepy benefit.

 

After more than ten days of such luxury, I returned via Tellicherry and Mahé to Calicut. I made some contacts in view of our Peace projects and came to Fernhill by dusk on May 1st to stay for the rest of the beautiful month when Ooty is most favoured by contrast with life on the plains, as also on its own merits as the long-reputed Queen of Hill Stations in India. The culminating event, after the alternating sunny and rainy days, with horse racing as in England and the Dog Show in between, is the famous Ooty Flower Show which, however, has lost its distinction of olden days and become more of a popular village fair. Man must have his holiday mood now and then in whatever form it may be. To see humans happy does one good, any time, anywhere.

 

THE HIPPIES ONCE MORE

 

Smoking dope.

 

The taxonomy and classification of hippies has to depend on a diagnostic aetiology of symptomatic expressions of their peculiarities of belief as well as behaviour. The hoboes known as beatniks have their own sub-generation of hippies, of which such groups as the four Beatle entertainers might be more generally known.

 

From those who smoke strong tobacco and sing or swing to music nonchalantly in nightclubs to those who pass pot pipes, there is a gradation that is noticeable. When one reaches the stage of smoking marijuana and treating it as nothing wrong, one becomes properly admitted to Hippiedom.

 

The complex world where hippies 'freak out', 'tune in' and 'turn on', is a challenge of this substratum of society that modernism has to face. Here repression seems wrong. Life's arrow cannot be turned backwards. The authorities have to ride on the tide and find a solution. The key to the nomenclature of the varieties of hippies can be found in the kind of drug they prefer. In this matter, besides the theoretical diagnosis of hippie philosophy, I found an interesting paragraph in LIFE (July 24th, 1967) written by Albert Rosenfield (Science Editor) which is worth copying here;

 

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'What exactly is marijuana? It is one of the most ancient of 'psychochemicals' - the drugs that affect the mind. It is neither an opiate (such as heroin) nor a barbiturate (sleeping-potion). It is rather one of the hallucinogens, which include mescalin, psylocybin and the much-publicised LSD. LSD is the most potent and hazardous of these, marijuana the mildest and least harmful. They all derive from the Indian hemp plant, cannabis sativa. When extracted and concentrated, the resin becomes the most potent of cannabis drugs, hashish.

 

Marijuana - known as kif in Morocco, bhang in India, and dagga in South Africa, among a whole lexicon of other names - is a smoking mixture made up of dried and crumpled parts of the hemp plant... the same dose affects different people differently, and can even give the same person different kinds of 'highs' depending upon his mood...Marijuana raises blood-pressure and lowers body-temperature somewhat; raises the pulse-rate and slows breathing. It dehydrates the body and increases the need to urinate. It lowers blood-sugar levels and stimulates appetite. It renders the hand less steady...'

 

The 'high' state induced by drugs is not unlike the state of mind well known among wandering sadhus of India. Dr. Dana Farnsworth of Harvard says 'they believe that they belong to a superior order of human beings, as actually observed by outsiders. They tend to be irresponsible and uninterested in things like pursuing studies, keeping a job, or supporting a family.' The similarity this attitude has with the detachment of a yogi as described even in the Gita, cannot be overlooked. Whether the yogic 'high' state is induced by drugs or not is not the most important question for us. Our own interest lies in the fact that the hippies are discovering a new vertical dimension to their own personalities which modern civilization had so far denied them and kept as a closed or secret chamber. An absolutist revision can banish problems here easily and save a whole rising generation from possible pitfalls.

 

VISIONS ARE VISIONS: PSYCHEDELIC OR APOCALYPTIC

If prophetic religions give credit to apocalyptic visions such as we analysed in our last two chapters, hippiedom likes to speak of visions which refer to the lower half of the vertical axis. These two are complementary and have to be given an equal importance.

 

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When the balance between them is correctly struck it would not be wrong to predict that such whole, integrated, or high knowledge would pave the way to human solidarity. Shift the accent one-sidedly and troubles between closed static groups start to spell disasters, big or small. Such is the secret that a full-fledged Science of the Absolute alone can lay bare or solve.

 

As my reveries this month have lingered on some of these contemporary topics which John as usual made me aware of by sending me clippings from journals, they also rested awhile on some of the rarer works of the Guru Narayana, which I had hitherto avoided translating because of their deeper implications. By a strange coincidence I took up one entitled 'Ten Verses of Phenomenal Reduction' (Prapanca-suddhi-dasakam). Orthodox punditry in Kerala, it is strange to note, has not dared to touch such compositions, even with a pair of tongs, because the speculation here is on the originally and structurally-based lines of a new mystical, though scientifically conceived, language. Myth or fable is seen to be almost fully avoided, and even when metaphorical analogies are fully relied on, a physico-logistical frame of reference is seen threadbare as underlying the warp and woof of the speculative fabric.

 

The composition is conceived neutrally from the normative meeting point from where eidetic presentiments, positive as well as negative, range themselves in the vertical parameter, participating both ways as lines or figures of light. Self-luminous or shining by reflected or refracted light, chromatic or achromatic - the visible, phenomenological presentiment of the actual world could be reduced into purer and purer terms, culminating in the vision of the Absolute as such in its full purity. In other words, we could say that the horizontalized version of the world of ordinary experience is reduced step by step into its own verticalized version which is only given to one who has attained to the pure wisdom that shines when all vital urges have been transcended.

 

 

 

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CHAPTER FIFTY NINE

 

INTIMATE MEDITATIONS

 

Old Singapore in the 60's.

 

Like Sherlock Holmes, I have to come back to the reader afresh after an interregnum of about four months. I took a ship from Madras and reached Singapore on August 27th. My life in Singapore kept me engaged with classes, lectures, radio talks, visits and Narayana Guru Birthday celebrations till September 15th. The same kind of programme was continued after I went by air to Kuala Lumpur. On the next day, I motored to Malacca, participating in the Theosophical Society's annual celebrations with a lecture. I addressed a public meeting in the Town Hall the same night. Talks on the Gita and other lectures continued at Seramban till September 23rd, when I travelled to Ipoh by plane.

 

Afterwards I visited Penang and repeated a similar three-days' programme there. On returning to Kuala Lumpur on October 1st, I continued there till October 19th, the days being filled with serial classes on the Gita and Vivekacudamani (the 'Crest Jewel of Discrimination' by Sankara) at the Vivekananda Ashram. I stayed at the Batu Caves on the outskirts of KL and spoke at the Town Hall on Gandhi Jayanthi (birth) Day in the presence of an international gathering of diplomatic and other dignitaries. Then, after fitting in a three-day programme at Klang on the way to Singapore, I reached the quiet atmosphere of the Gurukula there after over a month of hectic days.

 

Although the Chinese food there agreed with me very much, the general depressing atmosphere of exaggerated ancestor-worship with its heavy negative drag had a strange, unmistakable, psychophysical retro-effect on me. From this there arose a strange setback in my metabolism, which had already become sluggish. The equatorial feebleness of the earth's magnetic current also caused me to lose my appetite for several days. Also on November 4th I ran a low temperature but slowly recovered by taking manibhadram, which is a rich confection of ancient Ayurveda containing senna as an ingredient, which acts as a rare rectal peristaltic stimulant which cleared my ileum of all its mucous blockage which otherwise would have tempted expert allopathic surgeons to open up my entrails just to see what was wrong. From John's case and Nitya's experience I cleverly avoided this possible disaster.

 

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On November 23rd, I was fit and ready to have a full-dress send-off to India by jet plane at the busy airport where all friends, old and new, were fully represented. I must have lost to the theory of relativity three hours contraction of time while in flight to Madras because, as common sense should always prove right, Shanmukham waited for me at the Madras airport completely oblivious of the three hours that I had lost while flying many thousand feet among the clouds.

 

On November 27th, after three days in Madras, I flew to Trivandrum where again I had a full reception by friends and disciples. Next I was back at Varkala to continue my normal routine at Guru Narayana Giri. Pierre and Annette Gevaert, who had come all the way from Belgium by car, after chasing me in vain in Madras and other places, met me after all on December 5th at Varkala, but I could be with them for only a couple of days. I went to Cochin, Calicut, Ezhumalai, Cheruvattur, Tellicherry, Vythiri and Minangadi, sleeping in different beds almost every night, finally reaching good old Ootacamund to face the challenge of its frosty December days. Leaving Ooty again on December 18th in Dr. Subrahmanyam's car, I reached Coimbatore and entrained in the Cochin express to arrive at Varkala.

 

The rest of December till January 1st was spent in the usual preparations for and participation in the annual Gurukula Convention. Five international visitors: Dr. Carroll Raum and Mr. Hilarion from the USA, Bhikkhu Aryananda from Australia, Bhikku Vivekananda from Thailand, and Jean Letschert from Belgium, and of course John, again in good health after his four months of anxious time and a stomach operation, made the Convention specially bright.

 

The seven days' programme of wonder passed off with the usual éclat and all became quiet at the Guru Narayana Giri where I had at least a thousand devotees to greet or bless or argue with - including men, women and children - each of the ten days, when streams of them came up to the hill which was brightened with lights and decorations for the festive occasion. An atmosphere of greater triumph prevailed this time in spite of countrywide bus-strikes at this very period.

 

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On the cool and misty mornings through which sunbeams played on the creepers and bushes around the bandstand-like pavilion with a coconut-leaf roof, the Giri seemed a paradise of simplicity as I began to get ready a final correction of the typescript of the magnum opus which was carried in formal procession to the hilltop by Nitya with the help of two pretty lady typists and a regular professional man from a Government office, by the evening of January 9th, 1969. With a fire sacrifice and chants by Gurukula boys on January 10th, six of us sat round tables correcting, collating, clipping and arranging; often retyping pages - involving both contrition and nearly tears of despair.

 

The sea breezes coming from the ocean's breast were, however, a consolation. But even this sometimes failed to improve how the whole panoramic valley was filled with insects, big and small, which became a nuisance as they were attracted in thousands round the open electric lights under which we sat bending our heads. Light was their attraction while wisdom was ours, and destruction now or a little later was the common goal for the big or small insects, including humans. Life can go out of focus or come back into focus with meaningless alternation while it goes on ever the same within the matrix of the neutral Absolute. Thus we worked days and nights on end wherein, round the clock, we felt like a bird standing still in mid-flight when relative time cancelled-out against absolute time, melting both in the oblivion of common sense, which has an absolute status of its own.

 

We change the key of our biographical jottings. I am now heading towards my 75th year of life. I have tried to keep up my morale and health, which seemed to touch a low trough after my 70th birthday. My eyesight has been going from stone-blind to high gravel-blind except for the right eye, miraculously saved by the dextrous operation performed by Dr. Sankaran of Calicut two years ago. My sprained leg with which I limped at places from Benares to Belgium has since become better through sheer correction by use. My meditations and yoga practices, though mainly negative - regularly kept on through the last decade more intensely and consciously than in almost all the previous decades of my adult life, with devotional practices reaching backwards even to my teen years - seem to be standing me more in good stead as I advance in years. Early rising and being absorbed in solving some hard problem or work at writing has helped to balance any otherwise negative or inert nature which has characterized my life, as I said, from my school days.

 

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Added to all these items of personal regime, a regulated diet and proper bowel movements, supported with timely reflexes - with enough rest thrown into the bargain - keep me sufficiently lively and jovial as a happy-go-lucky septuagenarian through this usually chilly Christmas season. I delivered the usual New Year Message on January 1st, and find myself a confirmed pagan with my own variety of obstinacy, which can even be called a form of healthy-mindedness. A sort of minority-mindedness has always been my personal trait as I remember from earliest days. This has cost me many lonely hours in which I had to keep my own counsel as well as my own company, with a touch of wilful self-righteousness. But all these have been fully compensated for by the growth of a strong sense of joy from within.

 

Death stares in the face of everyone at all times and when one thinks of one's own death it refuses to be limited to the cessation of life of one individual. Another man's life takes up the relay race from beyond the point where the former might have left off. Thus, collectively, the general flux of life goes on uninterrupted, and any cross-section we might try to take of a truncated flow of time is bound to fail as badly as when we should try to cut a rising flame with a flashing sword or abruptly interrupt a mounting melody upsurging within our own heart. Men may come and men may go but life goes on forever. We can divide this flux, if at all, only schematically by a horizontal line or plane interposed at right angles to it. When so analyzed, the subjective and objective strands of individuality or of action, virtual or actual, pass from one side to the other of the interposed plane, encroaching both ways. Watertight compartments are not possible. We are living death every moment and its fear melts away when we are fully aware of its meaninglessness.

 

In this part, after this interruption of four months in my biographical writing, I request the indulgence of my admirers to let me lapse into one more degree of intimacy and vagueness in the style of my writing. Factual aspects of my life are not important any more. The rest of my biography should be treated as a dialogue between myself and myself in the form of intimate thought or self-meditation.

 

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UNITIVE UNDERSTANDING AND WORLD PEACE

Before such an intimacy with myself becomes fully affirmed, let me refer to Nitya Chaitanya Yati, who deputised for me fully at the headquarters at Varkala. He had his own troubles and tribulations when he realized all of a sudden that the World Conference for Peace through Unitive Understanding to be held for the second year from November 10th to 19th at the Gurukula Island Home at the ample seaside of Ezhumalai, was a burden placed by me on his shoulders which was too heavy for him to carry. He had to pass through days of anguish at Calicut when he reached, as it were, the zero point of desperation, not being able even to bring out the first printed programme of the Conference in time. The island was inaccessible to traffic. How were the expected delegates to be fed? What was the simplest way of accommodating them? What about pandals (open thatched halls) to be put up? Of course, sea and freshwater bathing facilities were there. But still a full-fledged World Conference had the word 'impossible' written on its face. One could say that it was by supernatural intervention that I got the report, before starting from Singapore, that everything had arranged itself favourably at the eleventh hour, making the Conference a successful event at which all who took part could legitimately congratulate themselves. The high standard of discussion and exchange of human understanding was effected by common living together and mutual participation.

 

Another event worth mentioning, which also took place in my absence was the arrival of Jean and Nicole Letschert, a Belgian artist couple who lived an unmarried life 'while still married' as they said of their relation. It was a sight to see them both working hard, carrying half-buried stones from the ruins of European houses that once existed on a hill within a thick wooded area, overlooking an ample freshwater lake, acres in extent - a rare spot where five acres of land had been gifted to the Gurukula. They worked almost continuously and, when I gave them a surprise visit at Vythiri, they already had a roof and had raised the parapets for a hut four feet high, and were ready to cement the floors. They seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their work.

 

Their paintings, some of which I also saw, were of a non-representational kind where the human form, when faintly present, blended with geometric patterns which cancelled-out each other in glorious symmetrical designs of colour and form.

 

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I at once thought of the possibilities of a colour language to serve as a lingua mystica to explain protolinguistically the verses of the Saundarya Lahari (the Upsurging Billow of Beauty) of Sankaracharya, whose cryptic verses had recently intrigued me highly and allured me towards attempting a structural analysis of this much-misunderstood yet truly advaitic text, hitherto lost to the pseudo-scientific esoterics of Tantrism and the Sakti cult of post-Buddhist decadent India.

 

Further scrutiny of about forty verses with the comparative study of interpretations by scholars, including the verse translation of the same by the famous Kumaran Asan, has convinced me that all of them have fallen short of a truly critical estimate of this masterpiece. Sankara himself must have thought in terms of a structuralism, then understood, belonging to the Tantra and Sakteya background whose remnants still persist as remains of past culture both in Kerala as well as in Bengal at the present day. This stratum with its precious esoterics has been more or less overcovered by other debris accumulated and deposited in other parts of India, where the chequered rule of emperors and kings and chieftains - with greater or lesser Muslim permeation - has succeeded in covering up even the outcrops of this stratum. The Tantra school has its protolinguistic traditions. The Mother Goddess is also a favourite in the esoterics of yoga. Thus we touch here a rich deposit of ancient wisdom of rare beauty and quality. Protolinguistic speculation excels itself here.

 

Having thus struck upon a vein of treasure-trove, I have been directing my interest in scrutinizing and analysing structurally some of the verses. Even the title has been intriguing and elusive enough to attract my interest. The words 'Saundarya Lahari', which are the title of these hundred verses in classical Sanskrit, suggest both the intoxication resulting from beauty as well as a general overwhelming upsurge of the aesthetic sense in the contemplation of the Absolute Self. This aesthetic sense, arising out of the Supreme Bliss-Value, is of the essence of the emotional content of the Absolute. Ethics, aesthetics and penetrating metaphysical analysis meet in the upsurging of the sense of beauty within the contemplative as understood here by Sankara.

 

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In this composition Sankara proves to be fully absolved from the possible charge of being a dry-as-dust philosopher, with which appellation he is associated in the popular mind because of the exegetics and logistics in which he indulges in most of his commentaries. Although Sakti-Tantrism is the evidently-assumed background of the composition before us, there is unmistakable internal evidence that seems to suggest that Sankara, the well-known Advaitin, is its author. His seal can be discovered as imprinted on every verse by the clear absolutism revealed, and by the classical finish of the verses - as inimitable as in the case of Kalidasa. In order to give the reader just an initial foretaste of the delicacies and delights of this composition from a master philosopher and dialectician, we translate here the first verse of this series.

 

'If Shiva should only when united with Sakti

Get the power to manifest in becoming;

If again, without such, he has no ability even to pulsate,

How then could one of unaccomplished merits

Have the privilege of bowing to or even to praise

One such as you adored by Hari, Hara, Virincha and others?'

 

Here we have more than one rhetorical question by which Sankara fulfils the conventional requirement of adoration of a deity. As an Advaita Vedantin, his praise has necessarily to refer to no other high value than the Absolute. The upanishadic way does not give primacy to ritualistic or meritorious works for emancipation. The structural and literary requirements of the Vedic context are, however, retained for linguistic purposes here as useful for a negative way by default, rather than by open obligation for direct worship or praise of a single goddess or deity.

 

The goddess here belongs to the context of Brahman (the Absolute). This and every other verse of this series approaches the Advaita by the negative way of omission rather than by recommending adoration of Parvati or Sakti as the followers of the Tantra school, more properly so called, might do. The Tantra background however, is seen here to be taken advantage of and adapted to serve the requirements of the highly suggestive and structural language proper to the lingua mystica of Vedanta.

 

In the last line, reference is made to the triple gods, Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, who have the functions of preservation, destruction and creation respectively in the theological and mythological context of Hinduism. He implies here that, as a devotee praising the goddess as the negative absolute factor coupled with Shiva (who is positive as the counterpart of the feminine principle), he is not on the same footing even of the Vedic gods who belong to the context of only relativistic and meritorious Vedic ritualism.

 

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The schematic analysis in the diagram below will reveal more of the structural implications applicable to the aesthetic value of the Absolute when viewed from a negative rather than from a fully positive perspective.

Note here that it is the totality that is indirectly adored or praised.  The question of merit does not even arise when the total Absolute Value is intended here. The manifesting function is that of the horizontal negative, and the pure Absolute itself is beyond action, as it is comprised within pure verticalized positivity. There is thus only a direct praise of the Absolute initially at the start of the work, from a negative viewpoint.

 

 

 

 

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CHAPTER SIXTY

 

A VISIT TO MOSCOW

 

Moscow in the 60's.

 

I stayed at the Gurukula proper at Varkala after finishing the correction of the big manuscript, and was ready to go to Bangalore, which I did by air from Trivandrum on February 10th. I stayed with the Natesans on the night of the 9th. About a score of friends present at the airport helped me to finish the formalities and emplane for Bangalore with stops at Cochin and Coimbatore.

 

It was a clear forenoon and I could see the ground below as the aircraft flew fairly low, revealing rivers, roads and lakes with fields and forests or farms where humans were bound to varying degrees of necessity involving mutual action and reaction, alternately drawing close or pushing apart from their fellows. It was like a motley pattern of some rich fabric spread below as the wings combed the distant ground vista as if inch by inch while we covered at least five miles per minute. The ghats were passed like wrinkles in space and the dry sunlit scene revealed to me a bird's eye view of Bangalore where I had been born 74 years before - grown from a plague-ridden village to a modern soaring city of parkways, avenues and factories.

 

From February 10th to the 25th at noon I had to be in the two Gurukula sites at the 18th mile at Somanhalli and also at the new Gurukula centre at Suryapalayam, four and half miles from Erode, on the 16th and 23rd respectively, where my own 74th birthday was an excuse for the gathering of all interested in Guru-wisdom. Both these events went off better than expected. New friends, including the two Ahmedabad ladies, Chandra Bhatia and Bharati Trivedi, returning from the New Jersey Gurukula, participated in the functions. The exchange of generous mutual goodwill was more strikingly evident than ever before. Again on the 25th at noon I was at Bangalore airport with a dozen friends to give me a send-off.

 

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ABSOLUTISM AND A SUCCESSFUL CAREER

At Bombay also friends met me. The four Natesans: the father from Trivandrum, his son Dinesan from Bangalore and Mahesan and Kalesan from Bombay, all offered transport and lodging facilities on a very luxurious scale. They were all self-made men, and each had inherited a type of absolutism of his own. The first Natesan started his career as an antique dealer from scratch and it must be because of this absolute zero in his career that his sons go from one success to another, toeing the same hereditary line. Caste, when based on heredity and when thought of occupationally with no spiritual difference involved, is thus incidental and harmless. It is when put on a pedestal and glorified for its own sake that it becomes the monstrous menace that it is. Matching profession and type can alone be the support that caste can claim for a scientific basis. In itself it is a dangerous superstition. Indian authorities and religious leaders have still to realise the malignity of the caste system. A free India and caste cannot live together.

 

Mahadevan Natesan's flat in Malabar Hill, Bombay, left almost nothing to be desired, both in situation and in accommodation. While the sea lay in front of both the opposite balconies, the interior had admirable treasures of art and interesting inmates. I took rich and wrong food at wrong times and again had to correct my inside economics. The well-regulated regime of the Gurukula life proved thus to be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Mechanical routine must alternate with living adjustment and change if life is to function progressively, adapting itself by action as well as retroaction. There must be chances of feedback and retroaction as in the diastole and systole of the heartbeat, which sets the functional model for a healthy life.

 

RENEWED CONTACTS AT BOMBAY

Skyscrapers of twenty or thirty stories had become usual in the new Bombay and the old villas of the Victorian aristocracy were overwhelmed by bolder new-world architectural forms, though drab and like matchboxes in outer aspect. The last word in suitable architecture for India is still to be spelt out letter by letter.

 

Four days in Bombay brought me in contact with friends old and new and groups young and old, with some of whom I had to be vehemently outspoken against the closed and static ways in which they persisted in thinking in respect of building up the movement of Narayana Guru. The Guru-role still remained covered up by less important social values. With them I touched the possible limits of my protest and wish hereafter to leave the matter alone.

 

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On March 28th there was a regular party at the flat at which three swamis and the Consul General of France, with many Bombay and Kerala friends and European ladies and gentlemen, talked over cups of tea. I sat answering questions on the dialectical solution to problems, including that of World Government.

 

OVER THE HIMALAYA

March 2nd was the day I had to go from Bombay to Moscow, covering three or four thousand miles by air across 'the earth's measuring rod', as the Himalayan range was called by the ancient poet Kalidasa. One felt elevated to a superhuman and semi-celestial sphere by the very thought.

 

After Delhi, which was reached before 8 AM after leaving Santa Cruz Airport, Bombay, at 6 AM, the very voice of the announcer in the plane sounded a little outlandish by its scraggy, nonchalant loudness and a strange harshness of voice, as if coming from some other side of space. Flying at thirty thousand feet, we were told that we were soon to be within the air space of Pakistan after flying over the famed city of Udaipur. The morning was sunny and daylight streamed into the airliner, but soon it headed into thicker and thicker mist as the crinkled foothills of the Himalayas were crossed into Afghanistan by the Hindu Kush and Pamir regions. For more than half of the total time of six hours to reach Moscow the ground was lost to view. There was visible, however, an island-like patch which the voice referred to as the historic city of Samarkand. My mind went back to the days of Alexander's campaign to India. An hour and a half later, we were asked to see the Volga in the USSR, whose waters could be seen winding through rich fields of vegetation. Most of the rivers were ice-bound except for streaks of water visible at the centre of their courses.

 

The last lap to Moscow had to cover the two hours' lag that we again had to pay to Einstein while common-sense time remained again valid at Moscow. Thus the world had not only to be divided by geographical boundaries, but by areas which accepted the same standard time. How fluid time and static space could belong together still puzzled me as something strange, both to common sense and to any unified science that could be thought of with consistency or correct consequence.

 

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It is here that an Integrated Science of the Absolute was required and I was just then carrying the corrected copy of it in my handbag. Broken pieces of standard times necessarily belong together as one time, at least for our refractory planet - this green earth which is a visible reality to every jet-plane passenger of today.

 

LANDING TROUBLES AT MOSCOW

The landing at Moscow was announced, but the ground was all white and snowbound. The temperature was minus-two farenheit and all was bleak except for sunlight which came with us, as it were, announcing spring prematurely. I had trouble at the health control counter where a smart-looking Russian lady quickly counted on her fingers and found the discrepancy of one month's lapse in my cholera certificate. I had overlooked the month because of the thirty days of the month it was issued. Our friend at the Indian Embassy, Mr R. Natarajan, came to meet me at just this time, but his pleadings in Russian with the two ladies of the section only helped to further tighten their control. I was to be taken to the quarantine centre for five days of isolation and, according to friends in the know, including the manager of Air India, no power on earth could make the Moscow Health Authority relax its rules. 'It has never happened before', they said, but I still remained calm and confident like a Christian Scientist and only meditated inwardly that all wrong must right itself when well left alone. The lady finally seemed to relent and a last telephone call by her to her superior officer quickly brought the consoling news, giving me full freedom. Thus we went off, with baggage and customs formalities over, in a car driven by a hefty leather-jacketed Russian driver along the 25-kilometre straight parkway to Moscow, with its broad prospects of snowbound avenues where Greek and not Gothic architectural motifs with Byzantine spires or domes broke the monotony of the drab apartment houses looking matter-of-fact in plainness.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MOSCOW

The whole city had a silent dignity of looks, and the sidewalk or pavement restaurants or shopping centres were glaring by their absence. Perhaps the five cent go-as-you-please underground railway of Moscow also reduced the pedestrians on the top boulevards which seemed to vie with Fifth Avenue, New York or the Place de l'Etoile in Paris in more than one centre in the big city.

 

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The skyscrapers of Manhattan were not there but were compensated for by the tall spires of multi-storied hotels put up in different parts, sometimes even thirty stories high. The skyline thus had its monotony broken, and Moscow proved it could hold its own among the world's great capitals with a subdued grave dignity.

 

The frozen river of Moscow had many skaters in the afternoon sunlight and, dressed up to the ears in black overcoats and fur caps with earflaps, there was a sombre look in the passers-by. The cold was cruel, and it is no wonder therefore, that Russians normally feel the world is against them. Every minute meant harder work. Charity has to begin at home by necessity and one can love one's neighbour as oneself only by way of contingency. This explains many of the other peculiarities that I began to notice later on. The balance of give and take, as between home and abroad, needs constant dialectical adjustment anywhere in the world. One can easily fall into the error here of robbing Peter to pay Paul, which can only be adjusted by an overall sense of Absolute Justice or Equality, conceived dialectically and not mechanistically.

 

VISIT TO THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

On March 4th, I was taken to the Friendship House where Mme. Valentina V. Lubomoudriva and Mlle. Irena Yershova received me and talked to me over cups of tea in the beautiful apartments of the Soviet-India Cultural Society. The former lady had just returned from a tour in Kerala and the Nilgiris in India and was fresh with impressions of the people and the places. In the afternoon there was a gathering of more than a dozen experts on Asiatic and other cultural studies, ladies and gentlemen, presided over by Prof. V.V. Balabushevich, D.Sc. I was given an account of the work done for cultural understanding and I also had a chance to explain my own work.

 

They were interested in the various Gurukula Ashrams in India and the ladies were particularly interested to know if married couples could live in Gurukulas and if women could be admitted. I had spread on a table the various chapters of my own typescript of the Integrated Science of the Absolute which were also inspected with interest by Prof. Balabushevich and some others.

 

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'Contemporary History' was the favourite interest of many members of this group and all problems were best studied in their social, economic and historic setting rather than in vacuo or in abstracto. The Russian mind loved the zeal which treated as identical the practical and the material. There was an empirico-critical approach, which they claimed to be dialectical and not mechanistic.

 

TOLSTOY'S HOUSE

 

Tolstoy's house, Yasnaya Polyana.

 

On March 5th, I was guided by Dr. Alexei N. Kochetoff, Director of the International Tolstoy Museum, Yasnaya Polyana, Tula - 200 kilometres from Moscow, situated on nearly six hundred acres of land with ample buildings. However, we did not visit this favoured country residence of Count Leo Tolstoy but his home in Moscow, where he lived the last twenty years of his life with his children for the sake of their education. This house, with an acre of wooded garden adjoining, preserved exactly as it was between 1890 and 1910, put me in a mood in which Rousseau, Ruskin, Gandhi, Thoreau and a galaxy of other writers and thinkers like Emerson and the New England philosophers of America had their common source of inspiration. In the year 1924 I was influenced by the writings of Tolstoy, especially the 'Kreutzer Sonata'. Over forty years later, I stood and looked at the very table and chair used by Tolstoy himself. In and through the changing vicissitudes of life there seems to be a thin guiding thread leading one again through labyrinths to the same line placed on a parameter representing the flux of time's becoming.

 

This experience by itself has made my visit to Moscow worthwhile for me personally. Tolstoy belongs to the world without frontiers. I was honoured by the presentation of a souvenir token badge to wear, as also a facsimile of Gandhi's letter to Tolstoy dated 1-11-1909. I was glad to find that the memory of Tolstoy was not lost to the later Russian leaders and that Lenin himself, whose role came after, as placed within the actual limits of revolutionary activity with its fully-horizontalized implications, had decreed that the lesson taught by Tolstoy was not to be lost. He was there as a 'mirror' to present-day politics, as Dr. Alexei Kocheroff, the director of the larger Tolstoy museum, who was acting as my guide, explained.

 

562

MOSCOW PERSONALITIES

On March 3rd, I was presented to the Indian Ambassador, Dr. Dhar, who talked to me most cordially and kindly. On the 4th I was received at ten in the forenoon at the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries by Mme. Valentina V. Lubomoudriva and the General Secretary of the same society, Mme. Irina Yershova. The same evening I was presented to a group of scholars and experts under the leadership of Prof. V.V. Balabushevich at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and there was an opportunity for me to present my viewpoint and hear all about the work done under the direction of the Professor, who was also the Vice-President for the Society of Soviet-Indian Cultural Relations. Mr S. Roerich of Bangalore had already introduced me to this great authority directly and I had no difficulty in establishing very cordial relations with him and all others of a group of about twenty research workers and writers of the USSR. Valentin Zagrebelny could speak French, English and Hindi and readily offered to keep in touch with me on a permanent basis.

 

My visit to the Pioneer Palace dedicated to youth in a dream-like children's paradise of a glass house extending at least a furlong and three stories high - with the free grant of one and a half million roubles from the Government for its upkeep - proved how earnestly the USSR believed in working for a new world of scientific and cultural advancement.

 

My sightseeing terminated on March 7th, when I stood at the stroke of the midday hour at the Big-Ben-like Red Square clock facing the Lenin Mausoleum at the change of guards. I also saw the imposing pile of buildings of the University and monuments to space experts. A demonstration against China filed past on the same day, which gave me an idea of political events seen at close quarters and not merely from newspapers read from distant armchairs.

 

By the evening of March 7th, Mr. R. Natarajan of the Indian Embassy drove me twenty kilometres to the famous Moscow airport. I said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Damodaran and thanked them for their continued hospitality during my five days' stay, then found myself flying due west in a British European airliner.

 

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Time stood still at the twilight hour all the way as the jet flew 30,000 feet above a sea of mist looking almost like a fleecy white ocean, with pink lights playing on it for hours.

 

After a lunch which had the same menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters, London airport was announced, where I waited for nearly two hours without contact with any friends who might have to greet me at the outer reception hall.

 

Within an hour I reached Brussels airport by a Belgian Sabena plane.

 

 

 

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CHAPTER SIXTY ONE

 

TIME AND SPRING TIME IN BELGIUM

Did I go to bed at midnight or two or three hours later, and if so, by what clock should I go to have my identity fixed or determined by time and place? If I lose the game to relativity, do I gain it for the Absolute or merely common sense? Is the latter a legitimate substitute for the Absolute of the everyday life of the so-called man-in-the-street or the schoolboy who might be credited with knowing slightly better? Is time unique and universal as a truth in itself, for itself or by itself? Is Greenwich Mean Time to be respected over standard times of other unit geographical times known by accepted or prevailing conventions? How could I best observe the rule I had made for myself in the matter of rising exactly as the hour struck 5 AM?

 

What satisfied a common-sense norm could not satisfy a philosophical or a modern physical norm. A major puzzlement was involved here. Did my appetite obey the prescribed times which verified the relativity theory or did it more often take refuge in common-sense guesswork adaptations of what was best to do under given circumstances? Sleep and hunger contributed or contrived together, as they seemed to me, playing the double game of indeterminism within my personality that night when I tried to compose myself in the new and heavily blanketed bed that was given to me with the luxury bathroom that Freddy, at the instance of Céline and Marc with Mother Gevaert's approval, had assigned to me.

 

GASTRONOMY IS MADE TO MEET ASTRONOMY

On arrival at Lathem in Belgium I was still feeling guilty about having merely omitted the non-vegetarian items of the 'lunch' tray handed to me by the air hostess of British European Airlines, at some hour supposed to be lunch or dinner time, indifferently treated as one or the other by the waiter who, as a British person, could not be effectively corrected by me, as one who did not strictly belong to the English-speaking world.

 

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Conventional lies had to vie with natural indeterminism here. Although some Indian philosophers are apologetic about using the time-honoured term, Maya, to describe this kind of puzzlement; Maya for me could be both experienced and understood theoretically when my travel speed approximated to the rotation of the planet on which I lived. The philosophy of the rishis suffered no discredit with me, even if I took fully into account the latest developments of modern science. I was just then carrying my convictions in such matters within a travel bag which contained half of the chapters of the 1300-page typescript, the other half having been put into the suitcase because together they weighed six kilos or so - too much to carry personally.

 

NIGHT FLIGHT FROM LONDON TO BRUSSELS

From the BEA plane I had had to change into one of the famous Belgian Sabena planes after 9:30 PM. Going by the official clock of the airport, I could have had a snack or drink at London airport transit waiting lounge if I had wanted, but my hyper-logical mind said to me that if I was in the charge of Air-India International who fixed my itinerary, I should not look after myself but let them take care of my legitimate hours for meals.

 

The neatly built and well-finished Belgian aircraft took off and did not fly too high over London with its millions of lights visible in dotted patterns from above. They were more thinly distributed over the suburban areas and were gone when we crossed the Channel in the more slatey light of later sunset hours when most late diners on earth were still at table or on their way to bed. Uncertainty, indeterminism, the cloud of unknowing, the veil of ignorance, non-predictability - are all terms that imply one another in connotation or denotation, making for the same puzzlement that generally dulls human intelligence with a nescience acting as a negative principle of inertia in the total context of common human life.

 

Thus Maya was real to me. Londoners were subject to its dullingly dead weight as much as Continentals. In spite of this overall human verity weighing down the intelligence of all, one could recognize incidental and negligible differences between England and the Continent. The dotted lines of lights marking the roads were straighter on the side of Brussels. The Sabena plane itself was more streamlined in its pure white ivory beauty, and the Continental touch was unmistakable. English character could perhaps be credited with less rigidity or formal rigour, trusting in the chance element of 'muddling through' difficulties.

 

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All closed groups have their incidental ways or strategies in the matter of cancelling-out necessities against contingencies as collective or individual life unravels like a spun thread or woven fabric in variegated patterns of colour or design. Endless is the particular way the warp of probability holds its own plane or place in the woof of possibility or vice-versa, as these subtle twin factors weave between them the outer fabric. These clothe deeper personal levels which tend to meet abstractly, generally and unitively. It is in this sense that actual or ideological frontiers become unimportant.

 

While such intimate thoughts steeped me in reveries, half a glass of fresh orange juice was handed to me by the Sabena air hostess who, though not graceful in a flowing sari and black-painted fish-shaped eyes, gained what she lost in such details by a buxom, blithe and debonair attitude of stable efficiency. Each person attains inner equilibrium in his own way; while all can have an equal possibility of peace or joy at different levels under the unitively serialised aegis of the vertical parameter. Each has its own monomark inside its proper level within the total amplitude, plus or minus as the case may be.

 

SPACE AND TIME

The story of how the Sabena plane touched down and how I soon found myself losing or gaining time between my several absolutisms has already been related, except for the fact that my main suitcase did not arrive with me but was delivered at Lathem two or three days later. I was glad that Freddy went to the Gent railway station and saved me the trouble of bringing it. It was a pleasant discovery to open it and find none of the most precious parts of its contents were lost, consisting of the first part of my magnum opus and other personal effects. I had to take two or three days after arrival to make inner adjustments to outer movements and conditions both longitudinal or latitudinal, as well as those more connected with other sidereal factors. In other words, gastronomy had to catch up or tally with an astronomy or astrology of its own.

 

Books like the Tao Teh Ching and the I-Ching, based on the universalised and generalized meeting of probabilities with their corresponding possibilities on the thin ground of absolutist occasionalism, such as Descartes would speak of, tend to belong more and more to a Science of the Absolute.

 

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In a total science, gastronomy is not only related to astronomy in the outer sidereal or galactic space of an expanding or a contracting universe, but also to a chemistry within the physiological totality of each person as a psycho-emotional unit. The helicoidal movements of the planet on which we live as it takes its sinusoid course within the Milky Way have been proved to be related to the chemistry of the body by thousands of experiments recently conducted by the Italian scientist Piccardi. In my recent travels in South East Asia I have been minutely watching my own metabolism at different seasons and at different latitudes. Food and sex systoles reflect the alternations of the cosmological as well as psychological agreements of life within with life without.

 

The astronaut flying away from the earth into outer space is not in the same qualitative inner gastronomic space as his earthy counterpart. Conceptual space, which tends to substitute perceptual space and absolute space, containing both of those as counterparts, is a space of unified quantity and quality. Interiorly viewed, both could belong to the same schematised context. Each astronaut carries a schematic space within himself which is both quantitative and qualitative at once, as structural aspects of the same normative or unitive Absolute. Common sense can attain to this kind of unitive abstraction or understanding. A dog in a sputnik has less trouble in tallying inner metabolism with outer space factors because of being innocent of theories such as that of relativity or demi-relativity. Common-sense gastronomy is thus as near as can be to the absolutist version of unitive reality.

 

WINTER TO SPRINGTIME TRANSITION

When day passes into night or winter into spring, inner life responds qualitatively with a reciprocal rhythm. Alternating behaviour patterns result, made up of unit links of a chain of systolic and diastolic ambivalent functional phases. These are held together interiorly by a hierarchy of synergic centres falling within the amplitude of the parameter of functional reference. An interiorized view based on the free fancy of intuitive imagination is able to reveal the alternating workings of our life.

 

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One recognizes subjective adjustments in the form of attendant emotions. On the aesthetic content of events such as the coming of Spring, poets have lavished their powers of literary expression from the earliest pre-classical times within the span of the history of each cultural expression, growing through reigns or epochs, whether measurable by centuries or decades. There is thus a spring feeling within which baffles description.

 

Kalidasa as well as Shakespeare worked on these emotional upsurges which tend to be more evident near the polar latitudes than in the equatorial zones. The alternation is sometimes helicoidal but always involves a pulsating succession of unit functions, as with a hive of bees or firefly families round a tree at night in some warm tropical forest. When these fall into a unitive line a sense of well-being or whole-heartedness is felt, which Indian Yoga holds out as a high value for its votaries. Cults that depend on tantra and mantra also thrive on this vague emotional background of pleasurable or painful states. Eros also lives in this ground or stratum within.

 

AN ABSOLUTIST TRIES TO LIVE WITHIN A RELATIVIST FRAMEWORK

This was the third time I become a quasi-inmate of the Gevaert family. I had not known the peculiarly enigmatic members of this family in 1951 when, on my way back from the United States to India, in the ample lounges of the French luxury 50,000 ton liner, I contacted certain New Yorkers going to attend a so-called World Constituent Assembly to be held in the beginning of the year 1951 at Geneva.

 

The life and soul of this event happened to be an artist and idealist with an almost impossible passion in him in favour of One World Government, Peter Cadby, who travelled with me on the liner, and with whom I established a ready contact because he was going as a delegate to this conference and also knew Garry Davis. Although my destination after crossing over from Southampton via the French coastal town across the Channel, was to be Paris, where a bed and breakfast was awaiting my arrival through Mme. Morin, my old friend-in-need - my newly aroused interest in the Geneva meeting prevailed. As a result I changed my mind against my will and took a train the same night at the Gare de Lyon in Paris before midnight.

 

The World Constituent Assembly took place with dignity and proper procedure for several days. Although I was present only as an unofficial witness, I walked the corridors and was present at different committees like a presence that was both personal and impersonal.

 

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The event left nothing sufficiently tangible behind except some big bills that Mr. Edgar Gevaert told me later he had to foot from his personal account. At best it had an educative value only. This convinced me that present-day opinion on the possibility of realizing a World Government came within the scope of probable politics. Even this was for me a great matter for self-congratulation.

 

This one-sided contact with the Gevaerts proved itself to be a dispensation, judged from the fact that at roughly five-year intervals since then I have found myself living with them for weeks or months each time. I was a guide to Marc Gevaert who came to India to meet me by paying his passage with the amount of a prize he had won for passing his last examination with honours. Then I came to Belgium and lived as the respected guest of the Father and Mother Gevaert, in or about the year 1960; my relations gradually becoming more intimate and internalised to the setting of their family life about the year 1965, when I attempted in vain to try to found a Gurukula in the south of France.

 

This time my stay at the Gevaerts was more intermittent than on the previous occasion. Relativist family considerations came up against positively open tendencies. The death of Father Edgar took place when the subtle interplay of hypostatic and hierophantic factors was most evident and reflected accentuating individual differences of tastes or temperaments. It is not a correct rule of conduct for a sannyasin, as I was, ever to stay as a part of a family - or even as a guest within it - for more than three days. I was conscious of this every minute and tried to conform to its requirements as best as I could within the limiting factors of necessity.

 

The gentle transition from winter to spring was just then accomplishing itself fully after I had been staying there four weeks. Except for a visit to a small township twenty kilometres in the direction of Brussels where I saw a group of Belgian men, women and children fully enthusiastic about yoga as a form of psycho-physical discipline through postures and breathing exercises, under the guidance of some Indian swamis who visited and initiated the leaders of the group in this new interest, I followed the quiet routine of the Gurukula centre beginning to function at the Gevaerts under the guidance of Marc and Céline. Paulo and Freddy with their familial or friendly circles formed the core of the Gurukula life, but the patriarchal pattern of negative relations could not be expected to accommodate itself easily within or round an absolutist group.

 

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An open and dynamically-based nucleus of utter strangers who verged on being considered misfits, hobos or hippies was the cause of bothersome situations developing, as it were, from underground. Although no one lacked generosity or goodness under the aegis of one and the same Absolute, the various value-systems of the apartments in the Father's Mansion called the Absolute had many levels. Some were subterranean basements and others storeys that rose freely and brightly into the higher levels over the horizon. The parameter with the Alpha and Omega limits which regulated the life and relations of this complex structure were not yet understood. There were apartments with single bedrooms or double ones, and those that were complex with different grades of combinations or sets with subsets of value-ensembles. The de