Editor’s note: We feature here an important conversation between Sri Aurobindo and Nirodbaran. In this thread of conversation which took place between 26 March and 31 March 1935, replying humorously to Nirodbaran’s queries, Sri Aurobindo reveals a nuanced and deeper view of his Supramentalisation and his conquest of death. These conversations were later included in Volume 35 of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 35.
Nirodbaran: In one of your talks in the early days you seem to have acclaimed yourself as immortal except under three conditions—accident, poison or icchā mṛtyu.
Sri Aurobindo: It must have been a joke taken as a self-acclamation. Or perhaps what I said was that I have the power to overcome illness, but accident and poison and the I.M. still remain as possible means of death. Of course, the Mother and myself have hundreds of times thrown back the forces of illness and death by a slight concentration of force or even a use of will merely.
Nirodbaran: Another conviction which all of us share is that you could never have any illness; but your eye problem, due to whatever cause, has shattered it.
Sri Aurobindo: It is long since I have had anything but slight fragments of illness—(e.g. sneezes, occasional twitches of rheumatism or neuralgia: but the last is mostly now outside the body and does not penetrate)—with the exception of the eye and the throat (only one kind of cough though, the others can’t come) which are still vulnerable points.
Ah yes, there is also prickly-heat; but that has diminished to almost nothing these last years. There is sometimes an attempt at headache, but it remains above the head, tries to get in and then recedes. Giddiness also the same. I don’t just now remember anything else. Those are the facts about “having no illness”. As for the conclusion, well, you can make a medical one or a Yogic one according to your state of knowledge.
Nirodbaran: From whatever you have said in joke or in earnest, it logically follows that you are immortal. Because if you say that the Supramental can alone conquer death, one who has become that is evidently and consequently immortal. So if one is immortal or has conquered death, no poison or accident can affect him.
Sri Aurobindo: Your syllogism is:
“One who becomes supramental, can conquer death.
Sri Aurobindo has become supramental.
Sri Aurobindo has conquered death.”
1st premiss right; second premiss premature; conclusion at least premature and in any case excessive, for “can conquer” is turned into “has conquered” = is immortal. It is not easy, my dear doctor, to be a logician; the human reasoning animal is always making slight inaccuracies like that in his syllogisms which vitiate the whole reasoning. This might be correct:
“One who becomes wholly supramental conquers death.
Sri Aurobindo is becoming supramental.
Sri Aurobindo is conquering death.”
But between “is conquering” and “has conquered” is a big difference. It is all the difference between present and future, logical possibility and logical certitude.
Nirodbaran: I hope I haven’t made a rigid mental conclusion.
Sri Aurobindo: The premiss is false. I have never said that I am supramental—I have always said that I have achieved the overmind and am bringing down the supramental. That is a process and until the process is complete it cannot be said that “I am supramental”. Of course when I say “I”—I mean the instrument—not the Consciousness above or the Person behind which contain all things in them.
Nirodbaran: My logic again: Sri Aurobindo is bound to become wholly supramental and is being supramentalised in parts. If that is true—and it is—well, he can’t die till he is supramental—and once he is so, he is immortal.
Sri Aurobindo: It looks very much like a non sequitur. The first part and the last are all right—but the link is fragile. How do you know I won’t take a fancy to die in between as a joke?
Nirodbaran: By the way, none of those perverse “fancies” please. If at all you think of going, let us know beforehand, so that we may disappear before you!
Sri Aurobindo: Where would be the fun if I told you beforehand? However, I have no bad intentions for the moment.
~ Design: Raamkumar