Nolini Kanta Gupta (13.1.1889—7.2.1984) was an active participant in the Swadeshi and national education movements from the tender age of sixteen. He was introduced to Barindra Kumar Ghose, noted revolutionary and Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother, towards the end of 1907 who influenced him to join the Maniktolla Secret Society at 32 Muraripukur Road in Calcutta. On 2 May 1908 Nolini Kanta was arrested in connection with the Muzaffarpur bomb outrage along with the other members of the Maniktolla Secret Society. The trial later came to be known as the ‘Alipore Bomb Trial’. After spending a year in Alipore Central Jail as an undertrial he was acquitted in May 1909 due to lack of evidence to prove his involvement in any conspiracy of waging war against the British Empire. He withdrew from active politics after his acquittal from prison and became the chief associate of Sri Aurobindo (whom he had met during the Swadeshi movement) when the latter started the publication of his two weeklies (the Karmayogin in English and the Dharma in Bengali). When Sri Aurobindo left Bengal and migrated to Pondicherry in April 1910 Nolini Kanta too followed him seven months later. When after 1926 Sri Aurobindo withdrew into complete seclusion and the Mother took charge of the newly-formed Ashram, Nolini Kanta became its Secretary. When the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust was formed by the Mother she appointed Nolini Kanta as one of the founder-trustees. Regarded as one of the most advanced sadhaks of the Integral Yoga he was equally prolific in Bengali, English and French and went on to author more than fifty books in Bengali, thirty in English and five in French. In the Aurobindonian community he was known as ‘Sri Aurobindo’s manasputra’.
On the occasion of Nolini Kanta Gupta’s 131st Birth Anniversary, a talk given by him titled ‘The Inner Significance of Becoming An Ashramite and Receiving the Ashram “Prosperity”’ has been published in the website of Overman Foundation.
With warm regards,
The Inner Significance of Becoming An Ashramite and Receiving the Ashram “Prosperity” — A Talk given by Nolini Kanta Gupta
What is the meaning of being an Ashramite? When the Mother takes charge of our material maintenance—what we usually call receiving the “Prosperity”—what does that signify? It does not mean on her part the taking up of any gross economic obligation or responsibility, nor on our part any claims or rights. “Prosperity” is not equated with receiving a bar of soap, a sari, or a box of matches, or things like that. That is something absolutely external, having no value for the Mother. In reality, “Prosperity” symbolizes something else.
Commonly people ask for “Prosperity” for two different reasons.
- Because one has not adequate financial resources to support oneself.
- Because of the seeking after some prestige and position in the Ashram. To be able to assert that one is an Ashramite and a ‘sadhaka’, is considered a matter of pride and gives satisfaction to one’s vanity. That is the second reason for seeking “Prosperity”.
But from the Mother’s side, “Prosperity” has a quite different meaning. When she says, “I grant you the ‘Prosperity’,” she means that she accepts you. And, from your side, when you ask for the “Prosperity”, that should connote: “I place myself entirely in Your hands: I offer my total submission to Your Will.”
Thus the significance of “Prosperity” is not very simple; it is rather very profound, bearing deep implications.
The Mother ‘accepting’ you signifies that you enter the Power-centre of the Mother, a centre sanctified by a Mantra. Within the boundaries of this Mantra-circle, a special Power of the Mother is always active. As soon as you enter this circle, that Power starts working in you also, and its objective is to do what is good for you: good not according to your ordinary human ideas and expectations but the fulfilment of your inner soul’s needs and aspirations. Once you plunge into the Mother’s sphere of action—and becoming an Ashramite means nothing but that—, your only aim in life should be the fulfilment of your soul’s needs and that is also the objective behind the Action, behind the Mother’s Shakti.
But for that what is first needed is the entire purification of your being, your adhara. And this purification requires that all that is dark and dirty, defective and imperfect, in your consciousness and nature should first be made manifest and exposed to the action of the Light. The sign of this exposure of the inner darkness is that you happen to find darkness everywhere outside. Of course, it takes time to be cognizant of the fact that the source of this darkness is really within you, and so long as you do not acquire that awareness, you will continue to be visited by many types of dangers and difficulties, woes and sufferings even by what is ordinarily called ‘disasters’. The only purpose behind these unhappy visitations is to make you conscious of their real source, which is always within you, so that you may reject these darknesses from your adhara and make it pure and clear. If you can adopt the right attitude and give your full cooperation to the action of the purifying Power, these difficulties and obstacles will soon disappear. Otherwise, they will continue to plague you till you become inwardly ready and prepared.
Such is the nature of the activity of this purifying Power, such is its Law of Action. It is not that the Mother willingly hurts you: it is the needs of your soul which invite these mishaps. For, all your tests and ordeals are the results of the action of the Force that is operative here in the Ashram. This Force has emerged from the Mother and is what is known as her ‘emanation.’
At times the Mother reveals: “the Power of Kali came out and wanted to destroy this or that, but I prevented her from doing so.” But this prevention is a difficult job; for, this is Kali’s appointed task: to make you pure and prepared is her self-law (svadharma). She will accomplish that at all costs, whatever may be the apparent forms of the circumstances or the ways to be followed.
Now, the intensity of the blows should be in proportion to the measure of the unconsciousness of the person concerned, in order to break down its stark materiality and dense inertia. It is not easy to bear the impact of these blows or the harsh pressure for the preparation. Merely to receive blessings from the Mother is not sufficient: it has its own inescapable demands and conditions. It is for this reason that the Mother hesitates sometimes. This hesitation on her part is also an act of special grace of the Mother. For, she observes that so much pressure may not be right for the person: he may not have been ready for that.
How many amongst those who receive the Ashram “Prosperity” are conscious of the great responsibility that it bestows upon them? But it is only because one is not conscious that one has to suffer from so much misfortune, so much sorrow, and so many struggles.
But the power that is in operation here [in the Ashram] will not stop working for that reason. It will continue to do its work irrespective of whether you willingly accept it or not, and it is because of this Action that so much darkness becomes manifest in people here. If they would have lived outside, it is quite possible that many of these faults and defects would have remained suppressed and underneath and not manifested at all. Here, on the contrary, a searchlight, as it were, flashes upon them and exposes them to a distinctly clear view.
A question is often asked: “Ours is an Ashram: why are there so many bad people here?” The reason is twofold.
Firstly, we aim at a change of the consciousness of mankind and not of one or two men or even of a particular group. Therefore, all human elements and all sorts of samples need to be here.
Secondly, the very term ‘bad’ is wrongly employed. The contrasting sense of “good” and “bad” comes from the ethical consciousness. This ethical consciousness is the product of mind; it has its source there. And, as a result, all its judgment is relative and quite often there is no truth behind it. It is only the spiritual consciousness which can judge rightly.
In the spiritual consciousness there is nothing that is intrinsically “good” or “bad”; its vision is fixed on something beyond any ethical norm and its evaluation is impersonal.
Yes, it is true that some changes are needed in the rhythm of the movements of the present cosmic Nature. The right things are not in the right places; and there have come about some mixtures and deformations. All these necessitate some changes and reformations. But in the spiritual consciousness there is no question of any attachment or repugnance vis-à-vis these things. For, any repugnance has behind it some form of attachment somewhere and all attachment signifies avidya, Ignorance.
Ethical consciousness is a modern creation, a contribution of the European mentality and has arisen out of the teachings of Christianity. The very sense of the dualities of “good and bad”, “just and unjust” is a symptom of an impure and imperfect consciousness. Your attempt at an ethical evaluation shows that there is something unethical in yourself and you are trying to disown it: therefrom rises your sense of ethics. It comes to this: what is “good”? Well, what is not “bad”. That is to say, the sense of “bad” has already come to you.
There was no such “moral” sense in ancient Indian consciousness. Whether in the field of Art or in Literature of those days, there was a bold expression of the so-called ‘immoral’ subject matters. These were given shape in an ungarbed way without any dishonest dissimulation, with the purity and simplicity of a childlike consciousness. And such was then the case because, behind the creation of those days there acted a consciousness pure and transparent, and a vision unattached and impersonal. The ancients noted the simple and natural urges and actions of Nature and accepted them: there was in that acceptance no sense of doing anything wrong and sinful.
But when the modern consciousness seeks to express the same things, there intervenes an impurity and deformation. For, the consciousness of the moderns is tainted with this polluted sense:
“This is bad, and because it is bad, I hanker after it and am attached to it.”
This is the perversity of mind and mental consciousness.
But does it mean, then, that we should not judge and discriminate between what is good and what is bad? No, not so. How many people possess the spiritual consciousness? Those who do not, what about them?
They should indeed judge and discriminate. They have to use their ethical mind to decide what is good and what is bad, but, at the same time, they have to bring about a fundamental change in their attitude.
First of all, they have to develop a mood of humility, a sense and conviction that:
“My ethical judgment is not the last word in the matter: there are other standards of judgment in conformity with wider truths and a higher discrimination.”
Along with this, one has to learn to see, not what is “good” or “bad”, but what is “right” and “wrong”. That is to say, one has to reject all emotional liking and disliking and judge in a dispassionate way and keep always in mind that all these manifestations of good and bad are the play of a larger impersonal Force, whether in yourself or in others.
The desire on your part that there should come about a change and purification in the rhythm of this play, is all right and should rest at that. But if your reaction is more intense than that, that would be a wrong reaction.
We have been dealing, as it were, with a cosmic malady which has taken shape in different individuals, including yourself. If you identify yourself with your own flaws and imperfections, you will fall a prey to depression and doubt and sorrows and sufferings. And when it is a question of imperfections in others, your self-identification there will lead to reactions of repugnance and hatred.
Therefore, the very first thing you have to do is to become totally non-attached. You may, in the beginning, try to acquire this non-attachment with the help of your mind. For, even that will bring you much benefit.
This attitude of non-attachment is essential in all fields including that of your personal relationships. But no other separation or any forced imposition from outside can bring about this nirasakti (non-attachment). One has first to become non-attached in one’s consciousness and subjective experience. One has to learn to feel:
“I am ‘free’, I have no attachment whatsoever nor is there any bondage for me. There is none whom I can especially call my own; everybody is the same to me. There is no difference at all between all those whom I have so far thought to be my ‘own’ and those whom I have considered to be ‘outsiders’. They are all equal to me in my consciousness.”
Yes, if you come to feel like that, you will be always “free” wherever you may stay and with whomsoever you may live. Any forced attempt on your part to break the relationship from outside will mean that attachment is still very strong in you.
The same rule applies in the case of your experiences and emotions. In your life, whatever you encounter, whatever makes an impact on your consciousness, that is to say, whatever provokes a strong reaction in you and you judge it to be very bad, you may immediately infer that that thing is already settled in you—settled rather strongly—and it is because of that that you seek so much to disown it outside.
Many people coming to the Ashram are surprised at the free mixing of the boys and the girls here: they immensely dislike it. And the reason for that is the same. When anything provokes in you a strong reaction of dislike and irritation, that means that the thing is already in yourself. And if you can remove the inner cause from within, you will find that your outer environment too is in the process of a change.
And that is the task set before you here. Every Ashramite has that for his duty, responsibility and obligation.
In other words, the condition for receiving the blessings of the Mother—
Note: This is an English translation of what Nolini Kanta Gupta spoke in Bengali and noted down by Anima Mazumdar, his attendant.
Nolini Kanta Gupta’s room in the main building of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.