Abstract: “Essays on the Gita” by Sri
Aurobindo has been revisited with the purpose of gaining a sound understanding
of the real nature of the human personality and its development. Desirelessness, egolessness and equality
lead one to impersonality, the concept signifying liberation and
perfection. More the personality is
transcended, the more one moves towards impersonality and consequently to
liberation. Self experience, intuition,
and self revelation gained through Yoga
lead one to this state. The
role of yoga in attaining impersonality has been highlighted by Aurobindo in
impersonality, self experience, self revelation.
Sri Aurobindo on Personality in the light of the Gita
S. R. Jayaswal
“Essays on the
Gita” by Sri Aurobindo was first published in 1921-22. According to the Mother of Sri Aurobindo
Ashram, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo considers the message of the Gita to be the
basis of the great spiritual movement which has lead and will lead humanity
more and more towards its liberation, the is to say, to its escape from
falsehood and ignorance, towards the Truth.
From the time of its first appearance, the Gita has
had an immense spiritual action; but with the new interpretation (Essays on the
Gita) that Sri Aurobindo has given to it, its influence has increased
considerably and has become much more decisive. It is my view that this book is a perennial source of inspiration
for those who are deeply engaged in the practice of yoga and wish to understand
the real nature of human personality and its development in the light of Sri
The yogic personality is developed by getting rid of
desire, and it is possible to get rid of desire when we put an end to the source and cause of desire. Our senses rush towards objects of
enjoyment. It is, therefore, necessary
to withdraw our senses from those objects which give them enjoyment. Just as a tortoise draws in its limb, we
should draw our senses from the objects of enjoyment. Just as a tortoise draws
in its limb, we should draw our senses from the objects of enjoyment. In other words, self-control and
self-discipline help in the development of harmonious personality.
context, Sri Aurobindo refers to expulsion of all desires so that they do not
disturb the mind. When the mind remains
quiet and is not affected by storm and stress of outer life, it becomes
possible to experience the delight within and also develop a notion of
equality. In the words of Sri
Aurobindo, “Equality is the great stamp of the liberated soul. Once we are
possessed of the Self, we are in possession of all things.” (p. 95)
But our ego creates difficulties
“Egoism is the knot of the bondage. By
acting Godwards, without any thought of ego, we loosen this knot and finally
arrive at freedom.” (p.104). To become
egoless is necessary for freedom from all desires. In this context, Sri Aurobindo uses the term “impersonality”.
Awareness of self within and self in others, leads us
towards “something higher than the ego, an infinite, an impersonal, an
universal existence….. In other words, man’s way to liberation and perfection
lies through an increasing impersonality…The liberation given by this perfect
impersonality is real, is complete, is indispensable….” (p.121,123).
Actually ego and personality are one and the same. To become egoless by desirelessness helps in
the development of impersonality. For
Sri Aurobindo, the development of impersonality is more important than the
development of personality which is full of lower and egoistic cravings. To discover the true Self is essential for
the development of impersonality.
There are certain signs which are indicative of the
development of impersonality. These
- Absence of the personal egoism;
- Freedom from desire;
- Being conscious of an impersonal force of Love or
- Perfect equality in the soul and nature (p.171-172);
- Fullness of inner joy and peace.
The role of Yoga
According to Sri Aurobindo, “Yoga and knowledge are the two
wings of the soul’s ascent.”(p.191). He states, “By yoga is meant union through
divine works done without desire, with equality of soul to all things and all
men, as a sacrifice to the Supreme while knowledge is that on which this
desirelessness, this equality, this power of sacrifices is founded.” (p.191).
Thus desirelesness and equality are essential aspects of Yoga
and they have their foundation in knowledge, which is not mental or
intellectual, but “a luminous growth into the highest state of being….”
(P.192). In other words, this knowledge
is acquired by self-experience, intuition, and self-revelation and not by the
senses and the intellectual reasoning.
Further it has been emphasized that with faith or Shraddhaa, Yoga, and
knowledge, one may develop a spiritual personality, and master the lower self
by the higher, the natural self by the spiritual.
In the context of the Kshara and Akshara it has
been stated in the Gita and explained by Sri Aurobindo that when the soul of
man takes the poise of Kshara, it identifies itself with the play of
personality, and clouds its Self-knowledge with ego-sense and thinks himself as
doer of works.
Under the poise of Akshara, the identification is with
the impersonal and witness-consciousness comes into play. “The mind of man has to tend to one of these
poises, it takes them as alternatives, it is bound by Nature to action in the
mutations of quality and personality, or it is free from her working in
The role of Yoga in the development of human personality is
to enable us to gain spiritual experience by passing beyond the mental
level. We have to be liberated from the
imperfections of our present nature, and live the life of a divine being by
means of Yoga. In other words, development from ordinary personality into a
spiritual impersonality is made possible through Yoga only.
The Concept of
It is true that in Indian psychological thought the term
personality has not been used. Instead
the concept of Swabhaava covers all aspects of personality. Swabhaava is the essential
quality. It is that speed of spirit
which manifests itself as the essential quality in all becoming. “Dharma, says the Gita, is action governed
by Swabhaava, the essential law of one’s nature. And this Swabhaava is at its core the pure quality of the
spirit in its inherent power of conscious Will, and in its characteristic force
of action.” (p.263).
In his “Essays on the Gita” Sri Aurobindo used the term
“spiritual personality” too. According
to him “We have before us three powers, the Purushottama as the Supreme
truth into which we have to grow, the Self and the Jiva. Or as we may put it, there is the Supreme,
there is the impersonal spirit, and there is the multiple soul, timeless
foundation of our spiritual personality, the true and eternal individual….All
these three are divine, all three are the Divine. The supreme spiritual nature of being, the Para Prakriti,
free from any limitation by the conditioning ignorance, is the nature of Purushottama. In the impersonal self there is the same
divine nature, but there it is in its state of eternal rest, equilibrium,
inactivity, Nivriti. Finally for
activity, for Pravriti, the Para Prakriti becomes spiritual
personality, the Jiva.” (p. 265).
Due to this, the spiritual quality in the Jiva may find
expression. The spiritual power behind
this spiritual quality in the Jiva is essentially the basis for the Swabhaava
of Jiva. Whatever is done, all
types of action proceed from this spiritual power or force. Whatever is done, all types of action
proceed from this spiritual power or force.
When an individual realizes this truth by Yogic Sadhana, he is
inevitably led to the development of his true spiritual personality whose all
actions are the expression of the supernal power. In other words, an individual who has developed impersonality or
attained spiritual personality becomes an instrument of the Divine and loses
all sense of doership. With this
spiritual consciousness, all life becomes Yoga. With the help of Yoga, an individual may achieve egolessness and
desirelessness, without which the development of impersonality is not
possible. So long as the liberation
from the bondage of mind and ego is there, development of spiritual personality
is held up.
Thus, the role of yoga in the development of
impersonality or spiritual personality has been well explained by Sri Aurobindo
in his classic work, the “Essays on the Gita.”
Sri Aurobindo (1942). Essays on
the Gita (Vol. 13), Calcutta, Arya Publishing House, College Street.