The Siddhi Day (Day of Victory)
The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo on the 24 November 1926 (Siddhi Day). At the time there were no more than 24 disciples in the Ashram. Further, on that day Sri Aurobindo experienced the descent of Krishna into his body. He explains,
“The descent of Krishna would mean the descent of the Overmind Godhead preparing, though not itself actually bringing, the descent of Supermind and Ananda.”
In order to understand the importance of this day it is necessary to go back to Sri Aurobindo’s experience in the jail in 1908-1909 and link it up with the 24th of November 1926. We must also take into consideration what Sri Aurobindo wrote about his own sadhana to Barin in reply to his letter in 1920.
In that letter of April 1920 Sri Aurobindo described the stage of his yoga when he came to Pondicherry in 1910 as “preliminary or preparatory”. That is to say, it was a preliminary stage of the supramental yoga. “The inner guide, the Universal Teacher, showed me my path entirely. All its essence is contained in the ten limbs of the yoga. For the last ten years (1910-1920) the Divine has been giving me the experience of that element and developing it in me, though the work is not yet finished… Without reaching the Supramental it is impossible to know the ultimate secret of the world. The riddle of the world cannot be solved without it.
“But its attainment is not easy. After fifteen years, I am just now rising to the lowest of the three layers of the supermind and trying to draw up all my movements into it. But when the siddhi is complete, then there is no doubt that the Divine will give the Siddhi of the Supermind to others through me with very little effort. Then my real work will begin. I am not in a hurry to accomplish my work…I do not want to jump into the field of action, like a mad man running hither and thither, with the power of his petty egoism… This work is not mine, it is the Divine’s… I do not want thousands or lakhs of disciples. It would be enough if I get a hundred men free from their petty egoism and ready to work as the instruments of the Divine….
“What can an imperfect man going in the midst of imperfect men achieve?”
These quotations clearly demonstrate that when Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry he was not groping for his path, his path was clear before him. After 1910 the charge of his yoga was taken over by the Divine and the path was revealed to him in ten limbs of the sadhana. He was all along conscious of the existence of the Supramental plane above the mind. And up to 1920 he had succeeded in ascending to the lowest stratum of that consciousness and also in drawing up all the movements of his nature into it.
He was, besides, not impatient for action. He did not want to act from ignorant human instruments but from a Higher Consciousness. He had the confidence that if the perfection of the Supramental descent could be established, then other people would be able to profit by it with much less effort.
It was when the Tapasya for the Siddhi of the Supramental was going on that, fortunately, as if by a Divine dispensation, the Mother joined him intimately in the great Spiritual work.
From the beginning of 1926 the work of guiding the disciples already began to move towards the Mother. There were also women disciples – three or four in number – staying in the Ashram who used to go to the Mother for meditation. From August 1926 the number of disciples going to the Mother increased. It was as if Sri Aurobindo was slowly withdrawing himself and the Mother was spontaneously coming out and taking up the great work, both of inner sadhana and of the outer organisation of the Ashram. The meditations became more and more concentrated and intense. Sri Aurobindo’s coming out for the evening sitting began to become more and more late. The wonder of it was that no one felt anything unnatural in all these changes. The part of the disciples in the tremendous task of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was insignificant, still they were the witnesses of the changes in the inner and outer atmosphere of the Ashram.
From the trend of the evening talks just before and after the 15th of August 1926 it was becoming clear that the importance of a link between the highest Supermind and mind was being emphasised. He called it the Overmind. During the six years (from 1920-1926) it was also evident that he had gone much further not only in the ascent towards and into the Higher Consciousness but also in bringing about its descent into the nature. Several times in the beginning of November the evening talks turned on the possibility of the descent of the Divine Consciousness and its process. From these evening conversations, therefore, the idea of the nearness of such a descent came to several disciples. There was the possibility of the descent of the Gods. In The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo has given a clear exposition of the Overmind plane and Consciousness and the Overmind Gods. I give here some basic conceptions from it so that they might be of help in the understanding of the descent that took place on the 24th November 1926.
“If we regard the Powers of Reality as so many Godheads, we can say that the Overmind releases a million Godheads into action, each empowered to create its own world, each world capable of relation, communication and interplay with the others. There are in the Veda different formulations of the nature of the Gods: it is said they are all one Existence to which the sages give different names.”
Further on he says:-
“Overmind thus gives to the One Existence-Consciousness-Bliss the character of a teeming of infinite possibilities which can be developed into a multitude of worlds or thrown together into one world in which the endlessly variable outcome of their play is the determinant of the creation, of its process, its course and its consequence”.
In the Overmind “each God knows all the Gods and their place in existence; … The Overmind is a principle of cosmic Truth and a vast and endless catholicity is its very spirit; its energy is an all-dynamism as well as a principle of separate dynamism….”
A feeling that the descent of the Higher Consciousness would, or was about to, take place grew in the minds of the disciples either as a result of some indicative personal experience or owing to the general atmosphere. Many felt that great changes in the outer structure of the Ashram were about to occur. Instead of coming to the evening sittings at half-past four, the usual time, Sri Aurobindo came at six or seven, or eight o’clock. One day the record was 2 o’ clock in the morning! It was evident that all his great energies were entirely taken up by the mighty task of bringing about the descent of the Higher Consciousness and that he did not want to lose or divert even a second of his time to anything else. Even though the work of maintaining an outer contact with the disciples was found useful it was becoming more and more difficult in view of the growing demand upon his time for the inner work.
Those who do not know anything about his great mission can hardly understand how concentrated and sincere was his application for attaining perfection in his Divine task. In fact, people outside had already begun to be sceptical of any “practical” result of his vast efforts. Those who had built high hopes upon his spiritual effort and were his genuine admirers began to be disappointed. Some even cherished, in their ignorance, the foolish belief that Sri Aurobindo had lost his way in the barren regions of the Absolute, the Para Brahman! Or that he was entangled somewhere in the inscrutable coils of the Infinite! They believed that Sri Aurobindo had lost his hold on the earth, and that he had become either indifferent or deaf to the pressing and burning problems of suffering humanity. If it was not so, would he not rush to the help of humanity, that was suffering so much, with the saving balm of his Divine help? When was such Divine help more needed than now?
And yet the apparent contradiction remains; for those who were fortunate to live in his vicinity knew well enough that the Higher Power that he was bringing down was not only capable of but was actually producing practical results. His contact and identification with the Higher Power were so complete that he was able to put other people, whether near to him or far, in contact with the same. There were almost daily instances of people being saved from physical illness by his help. Far from losing his way in the Absolute he was seeing his way more and more clearly every day and feeling more and more the inevitability of the descent as a natural crown of the movement of evolution on earth. His disciples knew that there was no one on earth who had a deeper sympathy and feeling for humanity than the Master. The silent and solid help that was going out from him to humanity was glimpsed by them at times. They felt that the line he wrote in Savitri about Aswapati, “His spirit’s stillness helped the toiling world”, was true in his own case. And what after all is that “practicality” of which people speak so much? Claiming to solve problems, does it not really leave them either unsolved or half-solved while giving to the doer a false sense of satisfaction and self-complacence? In fact, the supreme master had such a firm grip over the earth that such illusory satisfaction could never deceive him. For him “karmasu kaushalam” – “skill in action”- consisted in doing it from a higher Truth-Consciousness. He did not want to begin outer action so long as the Higher Consciousness did not descend into the physical and even into the gross material consciousness. Only a New Life, a life that manifests integrally the Divine, could be embodied. In the fulfilment of the spiritual work that he had begun lies the ultimate solution of all human problems.
Days, months and years passed; but Sri Aurobindo did not seem at all in a hurry to begin his work. He was all along preparing the possibility of the descent of the Higher Power. The resistance of the powers of Ignorance against any such attempt is naturally immense. In one evening talk he said that he was engaged in the tremendous task of opening up the physical cells to the Divine Light and the resistance of the Inconscient was formidable. When one knows that all this Herculean labour was undertaken not for himself but for humanity, for making a new departure for man in the course of his evolution then one feels that the words he used for Savitri – “The world unknowing, for the world she stood” – are most apposite in his own case. It was therefore natural that when, by the grace of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the disciples also felt the nearness of the descent, their hearts should be full of expectant and concentrated enthusiasm.
At last the great day arrived. From the beginning of November the pressure of the Higher Power began to be unbearable. The day for which the Mother had been waiting for so many long years came on the 24th November. The sun had almost set, and everyone was occupied with his own activity – some had gone out to the seaside for a walk – when the Mother sent round word to all the disciples to assemble as soon as possible in the verandah where the usual meditation was held. It did not take long for the message to go round to all. By six o’clock most of the disciples had gathered. It was becoming dark. In the verandah, on the wall near Sri Aurobindo’s door, just behind his chair, a black silk curtain with gold lace work representing three Chinese dragons was hung. The three dragons were so represented that the tail of one reached up to the mouth of the other and the three of them covered the curtain from end to end. We came to know afterwards that there is a prophecy in China that the Truth will manifest itself on earth when the three dragons (the dragons of the earth) of the mind region and of the sky) meet. Today on the 24th of November the Truth was descending and the hanging of the curtain was significant.
There was a deep silence in the atmosphere after the disciples had gathered there. Many saw an oceanic flood or Light rushing down from above. Everyone present felt a kind of pressure above his head. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with some electrical energy. In that silence, in that atmosphere full of concentrated expectation and aspiration, in the electrically charged atmosphere, the usual, yet on this day quite unusual, sound was heard behind the door of the entrance. Expectation rose in a flood. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother could be seen through the half-opened door. The Mother with a gesture of her eyes requested Sri Aurobindo to step out first. Sri Aurobindo with a similar gesture suggested to her to do the same. With a slow dignified step the Mother came out first, followed by Sri Aurobindo with his majestic gait. The small table that used to be in front of Sri Aurobindo’s chair was removed this day. The Mother sat on a small stool to his right.
Silence absolute, living silence – not merely living but overflowing with divinity. The meditation lasted about forty five minutes. After that, one by one the disciples bowed to the Mother. She and Sri Aurobindo gave blessings to them. Whenever any disciple bowed to the Mother Sri Aurobindo’s right hand came forward behind the Mother’s as if blessing him through the Mother. After the blessings, in the same silence there was a short meditation.
In the interval of the silent meditation and blessings many had distinct experiences. When all was over they felt as if they had awakened from a divine dream. Then they felt the grandeur, the poetry and the absolute beauty of the occasion. It was not as if a handful of disciples were receiving blessings from their supreme Master and Mother in one little corner of the earth. The significance of the occasion was far greater than that. It was certain that higher Consciousness had descended on earth. In that deep silence had burgeoned forth, like the sprout of a Banyan tree, the beginning of a mighty spiritual work. This momentous occasion carried its significance to all in the divine dynamism of the silence, in its unearthly dignity and grandeur and in the utter beauty of its every little act. The deep impress of divinity which everyone got was for him a priceless treasure.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother went inside. Immediately X was inspired. In that silence she spoke: “The Lord has descended into the physical today.”
That the 24th November should be given an importance equal to that of the birthdays of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is quite proper because on that day the descent of the Higher Power symbolic of the victory of their mission took place. The Delight consciousness in the Overmind which Sri Krishna incarnated – as Avatar – descended on this day into the physical, rendering possible the descent of the Supermind into Matter.
– A.B. Purani