Editor’s note: For the Divine Humour feature, we present selected correspondence of Nirodbaran with Sri Aurobindo which explore a few themes related to the working of Sri Aurobindo’s Force and its receptivity by the sādhaka-s. These are excerpted from two sources: a) Sri Aurobindo’s Humour’ written by Nirodbaran (2006 Edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust), b) Correspondence with Sri Aurobino, Complete Set, Vol. 1 (2001 Edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust).
The ‘Myself’ in the following exchanges refers to Nirodbaran.
“Cherish your receptivity and don’t humbug about with doubt and despondency”
Myself: Tomorrow, by the way, I am going to burst a little. Attention!
Sri Aurobindo: Eh, what! Burst? which way? If you explode, fizz only—don’t blow up the Ashram.
Myself: Wretched, absolutely done for.
Feel like jumping into the sea,
Or hanging myself from a tree!
Sri Aurobindo: Why? Disburden yourself!
Myself: Disburden? You mean throw off the burden or place the burden at your door?
Sri Aurobindo: Both!
* * *
Myself: Please give me some Force for writing. But I wonder if you have time for circulating it.
Sri Aurobindo: Not as much as is necessary.
Myself: The atmosphere seems too thick with doubt etc. A lull over the Ashram. Storm brewing?
Sri Aurobindo: Panic seems to be the order of the day as well as doubt. The storm seems to have brewed. I am fighting it at present, having been obliged to give up my Abyssinian campaign and stop the march to Adis Abbaba. However!
* * *
Myself: Had a dream of a death also. . .
Sri Aurobindo: Well, if you go on dreaming like that!
Myself: Please, Guru, try to percolate a little occultism through the thick sieve of your correspondence. I lost all hope, you know and was depressed, dejected and downcast. It is so very interesting—this occultism!
Sri Aurobindo: All right. I can flood you when I have time and season.
* * *
Myself: I am preparing my confession! Perhaps tomorrow!
Sri Aurobindo: Very good. Shall await the revelation.
Myself: Guru, this is the month when your thrice blessed disciple came into the physical world. But thinking again— what will the poor Guru do if the big disciple doesn’t fulfil the conditions? Is that so?
Sri Aurobindo: The one hope is then that he may last on to fulfil the conditions without his knowing that he is doing it! What do you think of that device?
Myself: Any impression of Mother’s on my birthday? I am afraid I wasn’t calm but the whole day I felt peaceful.
Sri Aurobindo: Mother’s verdict is “Not at all bad—I found him rather receptive”. So, sir, cherish your receptivity and don’t humbug about with doubt and despondency and then you will be peaceful for ever!
* * *
Myself: Guru, I don’t know why Mother looked at me like that during Pranam. Was I anywhere in the wrong?
Sri Aurobindo: Mother knows nothing about it.
Myself: I went over the whole incident and didn’t find anywhere that I have misrepresented facts.
Sri Aurobindo: No.
Myself: . . . or was it because I was bothering myself and you over a trifle?
Sri Aurobindo: No.
Myself: It was not an illusion. Some meaning was there.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes? But then it must have been a meaning in your mind, not the Mother’s. So only you, its mother, can find it out.
~ Sri Aurobindo’s Humour, Nirodbaran, 2006, pp. 15-17
“It takes many ingredients to make a nice pudding.”
Myself: I have no peace now; the whole day passes in lamentation. No use dilating on it, as it has been before and will be after.
Sri Aurobindo: We weep before and after,
Our sweetest hours are those we fill with saddest thought.
Myself: Now, will you send me some force to pull me out?
Sri Aurobindo: All right, sir. If you feel ready for force, I will send you. As for the results, well, let us see.
Myself: Now absolute blank, a perpetual vegetative unrest, a Nirvana!
Sri Aurobindo: Gracious heavens, you have reached Nirvana so easily? But how can unrest be Nirvana? Some misconception. Perhaps it is Prakriti laya you are aiming at! Perhaps you are moving towards a repetition of Jada Bharat and when you are sufficiently Jada and able to enjoy it, the Nirvana and all the knowledge will come to you.
* * *
Myself: You spoke of the supramental coming as fast as we will allow. If we fellows have to allow, you had better close down the shop and enjoy your supramental beatitude.
Sri Aurobindo: You have mistaken the sense altogether. It simply means if with the bother of your revolts, depressions, illnesses, shouts and all the rest of it, I can get time to go on rapidly. Nothing more, sir.
I am quite ready. I propose that you call a meeting and put it to the vote “That hereby we resolve to release Sri Aurobindo into beatitude and all go off quietly to Abyssinia.”
Myself: Why are we made of so many contradictory elements?
Sri Aurobindo: It takes many ingredients to make a nice pudding.
* * *
Myself: Is it that the path to the Divine can’t be made easy lest all leave the ordinary world?
Sri Aurobindo: Perhaps it is to prevent the world from coming to a sudden end by a universal rush into beatitude.
Well, but haven’t I told you that the Supramental can’t be understood by the intellect? So necessarily or at least logically if I become Supramental and speak supramentally, I must be unintelligible to everybody. Q.E.D. It is not a threat, only the statement of a natural evolution.
~ ibid., pp. 17-19
“The Divine is quite indifferent about it.”
Myself: I am sure next August will be a great victorious occasion with swarms of élites of Calcutta at your feet. Happy at the prospect?
Sri Aurobindo: Horrifying idea! Luckily the élites are not in the habit of swarming.
Myself: All these orations, successes etc. raise another question—whether the Divine also wanted that His name should he spread now.
Sri Aurobindo: The Divine is quite indifferent about it. Or rather more privacy would be better for the work.
Myself: Anyway, please give him all the Force and protection possible and available so that the name of the Guru and disciple may resound from one end of India to another and all flock in crowds—trains, aeroplanes to the door of the Invisible Guru!
Sri Aurobindo: Good God!
Myself: Alas, where shall we be then?
Sri Aurobindo: And where shall we be?
~ ibid., pp. 23-24
About Chand’s Wires: “All animals follow their nature.”
Myself: Chand has asked your advice and protection about going to Chittagong’ in January.
Sri Aurobindo: Protection is possible, advice not.
~ ibid., p. 17
Myself: What does this telegram from C mean? All I know is that this loan company is a company at Chittagong where he has kept deposits. Is it the position of his complex self or the self of the company that is risky? Which?
Sri Aurobindo: Both perhaps.
Myself: But one thing is clear that he requires your protection. Well?
Sri Aurobindo: Difficult to protect such an erratic genius. However!
~ ibid., p. 22
Myself: Another letter from C—family matters and something about his Bank trouble! What a fine thing to be an Avatar, what?
Sri Aurobindo: Why? You think an Avatar has to take in the Bank troubles of his C’s? No fear!
Myself: Guru, there is a whole mass of letters from dear C.
Sri Aurobindo: His Bengali handwriting is too much for me.
Myself: There is a tangled problem which is absolutely beyond me.
Sri Aurobindo: I have read his letter, but can’t make head or tail out of his problem. He will have to solve it himself.
Myself: There is a clash between ethics and spirituality and worldliness; so he seeks your advice.
Sri Aurobindo: Anyhow he seems to me to be the most loose and unpractical and disorderly fellow that ever was, leaving his papers and debts lightly fluttering about all over the world. It will be no wonder if he loses all he has.
~ ibid., pp. 24-25
Chand sent a wire: Why silent? great struggle, protection.
Myself: Guru, I don’t know why he says ‘silent’. I have sent the darshan blessings on 23rd or 24th which he must have received.
Sri Aurobindo: But you have not given him protection.
* * *
Chand’s wire: Inspector’s contact uncongenial trying avoid.
Sri Aurobindo: What the hell! He seems to have plenty of money to waste on unnecessary telegrams! Why wire about the Inspector’s contact?
* * *
Chand’s wire: Progressing again, debt case tomorrow.
Myself: Voilà, another, Sir! and not the last, if you please ! I wrote to him once not to waste money unnecessarily on registered letters and telegrams but Chand is Chand!
Sri Aurobindo: Well, well, let us accept the inevitable. . . (prakṛitiṁ yānti bhūtāni ) which means all animals follow their nature.
* * *
Chand’s wire: Great inertia again, letter follows.
Myself: Guru, another bombardment! What an impulsive fellow! almost unparalleled. I think he is another fellow who will find life extremely difficult here.
Sri Aurobindo: Well, there’s no inertia in his wrong activities at any rate. He is full of energy there.
* * *
Myself: Chand writes there is no letter from me. So, one word, Guru!
Sri Aurobindo: Well, well! (That’s one word twice repeated).
Myself: Chand writes: “You have” said “Well, well!” The meaning is quite clear to me.”
Sri Aurobindo: Queer! He seems cleverer than myself.
~ ibid., pp. 27-28
Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s Force for Healing
“Have to blast rocks, dig out channel, embank.”
Myself: Can you not or rather isn’t it high time that you should open up the medical channel in me, Sir? I feel ashamed that I am a doctor and can’t cure cases! You gave me a godship in Timber Godown work and compliments for my ability etc. In my own field I shall be a failure?
Sri Aurobindo: Medical channel? Rather rocky perhaps and sanded — but if poetry could open, why not medicine?
Myself: Medical channel rather vicky? vichy? and — what? It means anyhow the thing is not easy, but why not?
Sri Aurobindo: Rocky, sir, rocky — and sanded — silted up with sand from both sides. No place for the current. Have to blast rocks, dig out channel, embank.
~ ibid., p. 92
Divine Force and Doctor as a Force
Myself: The Divine Grace has certainly done something. I acted up to your advice, and N felt better the whole day. . .
Sri Aurobindo: It was not the Divine Grace but the Divine Force. If it had been the Grace, it would simply have said तथास्तु [tathāstu – so be it] and the thing would be done. As it is, last night I had to work a damned lot for this result—I only hope it will last and complete itself.
* * *
Myself: But may I ask you why you are wasting such a lot of Force when a word could do the job? Why not cut short our labour and the patients’ discomfort by saying तथास्तु? Is it as easily done as it is said? If working “a damned lot” reduces the temperature only by one degree and that too for 12 hours or less, what am I to think?
Sri Aurobindo: I did not expect you to take my तथास्तु with such grim seriousness.
Speaking semi-seriously, I am not here to do miracles to order, but to try to get in a new consciousness somewhere in the world—which is itself however to attempt a miracle. If physical miracles happen to tumble in in the process, well and good, but you can’t present your medical pistol in my face and call on me to stand and deliver.
As for the Force, application of my force, short of the supramental, means always a struggle of forces and the success depends on (1) the strength and persistency of the force put out, (2) the receptivity of the subject, (3) the sanction of the Unmentionable—I beg your pardon, I meant the Unnameable, Ineffable, Unknowable.
X’s physical consciousness is rather obstinate, as you have noticed, and therefore not too receptive. It may feel the Mother inside it, but to obey her will or force is less habitual for it.
* * *
Myself: I still can’t understand why you should bother to follow us doctors. The Divine can very easily act from the supramental consciousness directly; you don’t really need a diagnosis given by ordinary men!
Sri Aurobindo: If things were like that, why the deuce should we have Doctors or a dispensary at all? And what would have been the use of your 20,000? We don’t propose to do the whole business of the inside and outside off our own bat. You are as necessary for this as Chandulal for the building or others for their work.
Who told you we are acting from supramental consciousness? We are not and cannot until the confounded quarrel with Matter is settled.
* * *
Myself: What is this “confounded quarrel with Matter” you mention? Does this refer to the lower vital and physical movements of the sadhaks?
Sri Aurobindo: I am not speaking of the sadhaks, but the resistance of the Earth nature itself in its material parts. But these are things you people cannot understand unless you have less childlike notions about things.
* * *
Myself: I am still wondering why there should be doctors and a dispensary at all! Isn’t it a paradox—the Divine sending his disciples to the human physician?
Sri Aurobindo: Rubbish! This is a world of the play of forces, sir, and the Doctor is a force. So why should not the Divine use him? Have you realised that if the Divine did everything, there would be no world, only a show of marionettes?
Myself: D also thinks the same as I do. Why is it not possible for the Force to cure the patients? Let the Dispensary go to the devils!
Sri Aurobindo: Thank you for your suggestions all the same — especially about the dispensary and the devils. D.S. almost sent it there, but it went to you instead.
~ Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Nirodbaran, 2001 Edition, Vol. 1, pp. 118-122
 The amount (in rupees) paid by the correspondent for his medical education.— Editorial note as mentioned in CWSA, Vol. 35.
~ Design: Beloo Mehra