Extracts from Bhawani Mandir by Sri Aurobindo
BHAWANI IS SHAKTI.
In the present age, the Mother is manifested as the mother of
Strength. She is pure Shakti.
THE WHOLE WORLD IS GROWING FULL
OF THE MOTHER AS SHAKTI.
Let us raise our eyes and cast them upon the world around us.
Wherever we turn our gaze, huge masses of strength rise before
80 Writings and a Resolution 1890 – 1906
our vision, tremendous, swift and inexorable forces, gigantic
figures of energy, terrible sweeping columns of force. All is growing
large and strong. The Shakti of war, the Shakti of wealth,
the Shakti of Science are tenfold more mighty and colossal, a
hundredfold more fierce, rapid and busy in their activity, a thousandfold
more prolific in resources, weapons and instruments
than ever before in recorded history. Everywhere the Mother is
at work; from Her mighty and shaping hands enormous forms of
Rakshasas, Asuras, Devas are leaping forth into the arena of the
world. We have seen the slow but mighty rise of great empires
in the West, we have seen the swift, irresistible and impetuous
bounding into life of Japan. Some are Mleccha Shaktis clouded
in their strength, black or blood-crimson with tamas or rajas,
others are Arya Shaktis, bathed in a pure flame of renunciation
and utter self-sacrifice: but all are theMother in Her new phase,
remoulding, creating. She is pouring Her spirit into the old; She
is whirling into life the new.
WE IN INDIA FAIL IN ALL THINGS
FOR WANT OF SHAKTI.
But in India the breath moves slowly, the afflatus is long in coming.
India, the ancient mother, is indeed striving to be reborn,
striving with agony and tears, but she strives in vain. What ails
her, she, who is after all so vast and might be so strong? There
is surely some enormous defect, something vital is wanting in
us; nor is it difficult to lay our finger on the spot. We have all
things else, but we are empty of strength, void of energy. We
have abandoned Shakti and are therefore abandoned by Shakti.
The Mother is not in our hearts, in our brains, in our arms.
The wish to be reborn we have in abundance, there is no deficiency
there. How many attempts have been made, how many
movements have been begun, in religion, in society, in politics!
But the same fate has overtaken or is preparing to overtake them
all. They flourish for a moment, then the impulse wanes, the fire
dies out, and if they endure, it is only as empty shells, forms
from which the Brahma has gone or in which it lies overpowered
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with tamas and inert. Our beginnings are mighty, but they have
neither sequel nor fruit.
Now we are beginning in another direction; we have started
a great industrial movement which is to enrich and regenerate an
impoverished land. Untaught by experience, we do not perceive
that this movement must go the way of all the others, unless we
first seek the one essential thing, unless we acquire strength.
OUR KNOWLEDGE IS A DEAD THING
FOR WANT OF SHAKTI.
Is it knowledge that is wanting? We Indians born and bred in
a country where Jnana has been stored and accumulated since
the race began, bear about in us the inherited gains of many
thousands of years. Great giants of knowledge rise among us
even today to add to the store. Our capacity has not shrunk,
the edge of our intellect has not been dulled or blunted, its
receptivity and flexibility are as varied as of old. But it is a dead
knowledge, a burden under which we are bowed, a poison which
is corroding us rather than as it should be a staff to support our
feet, and a weapon in our hands; for this is the nature of all
great things that when they are not used or are ill used, they
turn upon the bearer and destroy him.
Our knowledge then, weighed down with a heavy load of
tamas, lies under the curse of impotence and inertia. We choose
to fancy indeed, now-a-days, that if we acquire Science, all will
be well. Let us first ask ourselves what we have done with the
knowledge we already possess, or what have those, who have
already acquired Science, been able to do for India. Imitative
and incapable of initiative, we have striven to copy the methods
of England, and we had not the strength: we would now copy
the methods of the Japanese, a still more energetic people; are
we likely to succeed any better? The mighty force of knowledge
which European Science bestows is a weapon for the hands of a
giant, it is the mace of Bheemsen: what can a weakling do with
it but crush himself in the attempt to wield it?
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OUR BHAKTI CANNOT LIVE AND WORK
FOR WANT OF SHAKTI.
Is it love, enthusiasm, Bhakti that is wanting? These are ingrained
in the Indian nature, but in the absence of Shakti we
cannot concentrate, we cannot direct, we cannot even preserve
it. Bhakti is the leaping flame, Shakti is the fuel. If the fuel is
scanty how long can the fire endure?
When the strong nature, enlightened by knowledge, disciplined
and given a giant’s strength by Karma, lifts itself up in
love and adoration to God, that is the Bhakti which endures
and keeps the soul for ever united with the Divine. But the weak
nature is too feeble to bear the impetus of so mighty a thing as
perfect Bhakti; he is lifted up for a moment, then the flame soars
up to Heaven, leaving him behind exhausted and even weaker
than before. Every movement of any kind of which enthusiasm
and adoration are the life, must fail and soon burn itself out so
long as the human material from which it proceeds is frail and
light in substance.
INDIA THEREFORE NEEDS SHAKTI ALONE.
The deeper we look, the more we shall be convinced that the one
thing wanting, which we must strive to acquire before all others,
is strength—strength physical, strength mental, strength moral,
but above all strength spiritual which is the one inexhaustible
and imperishable source of all the others. If we have strength,
everything else will be added to us easily and naturally. In the
absence of strength we are like men in a dream who have hands
but cannot seize or strike, who have feet but cannot run.
INDIA, GROWN OLD AND DECREPIT IN WILL,
HAS TO BE REBORN.
Whenever we strive to do anything, after the first rush of enthusiasm
is spent, a paralysing helplessness seizes upon us. We
often see in the cases of old men full of years and experience
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that the very excess of knowledge seems to have frozen their
powers of action and their powers of will. When a great feeling
or a great need overtakes them and it is necessary to carry out
its promptings in action, they hesitate, ponder, discuss, make
tentative efforts and abandon them or wait for the safest and
easiest way to suggest itself, instead of taking the most direct;
thus the time when it was possible and necessary to act passes
away. Our race has grown just such an old man with stores
of knowledge, with ability to feel and desire, but paralysed by
simple sluggishness, senile timidity, senile feebleness. If India is
to survive, she must be made young again. Rushing and billowing
streams of energy must be poured into her; her soul must
become, as it was in the old times, like the surges, vast, puissant,
calm or turbulent at will, an ocean of action or of force.
INDIA CAN BE REBORN.
Many of us utterly overcome by tamas, the dark and heavy demon
of inertia, are saying now-a-days that it is impossible; that
India is decayed, bloodless and lifeless, too weak ever to recover;
that our race is doomed to extinction. It is a foolish and idle saying.
No man or nation need be weak unless he chooses, no man
or nation need perish unless he deliberately chooses extinction.
WHAT IS A NATION? THE SHAKTI OF ITS MILLIONS.
For what is a nation? What is our mother-country? It is not a
piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind.
It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions
of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha-
Mardini sprang into being from the Shaktis of all the millions of
gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The
Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the
Shaktis of three hundred millions of people; but she is inactive,
imprisoned in the magic circle of tamas, the self-indulgent inertia
and ignorance of her sons. To get rid of tamas we have but to
wake the Brahma within.
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IT IS OUR OWN CHOICE WHETHER WE CREATE
A NATION OR PERISH.
What is it that so many thousands of holy men, Sadhus and
Sannyasis, have preached to us silently by their lives? What was
the message that radiated from the personality of Bhagawan
Ramkrishna Paramhansa? What was it that formed the kernel
of the eloquence with which the lion like heart of Vivekananda
sought to shake the world? It is this that in every one of these
three hundred millions of men from the Raja on his throne
to the coolie at his labour, from the Brahmin absorbed in his
sandhya to the Pariah walking shunned of men, GOD LIVETH.
We are all gods and creators, because the energy of God is
within us and all life is creation; not only the making of new
forms is creation, but preservation is creation, destruction itself
is creation. It rests with us what we shall create; for we are not,
unless we choose, puppets dominated by Fate andMaya: we are
facets and manifestations of Almighty Power.
INDIA MUST BE REBORN, BECAUSE HER REBIRTH
IS DEMANDED BY THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD.
India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because
among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved
the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to
the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from
herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal religion
which is to harmonise all religion, science and philosophies and
make mankind one soul. In the sphere of morality, likewise, it is
her mission to purge barbarism (mlecchahood) out of humanity
and to aryanise the world. In order to do this, she must first
It was to initiate this great work, the greatest and most wonderful
work ever given to a race, that Bhagawan Ramkrishna
came and Vivekananda preached. If the work does not progress
as it once promised to do, it is because we have once again
allowed the terrible cloud of tamas to settle down on our souls
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—fear, doubt, hesitation, sluggishness. We have taken, some of
us, the Bhakti which poured forth from the one and the Jnana
given us by the other, but from the lack of Shakti, from the lack
of Karma, we have not been able to make our Bhakti a living
thing. May we yet remember that it was Kali, who is Bhawani
mother of strength, whom Ramkrishna worshipped and with
whom he became one.
But the destiny of India will not wait on the falterings and
failings of individuals; the mother demands that men shall arise
to institute her worship and make it universal.
TO GET STRENGTH WE MUST ADORE
THE MOTHER OF STRENGTH.
Strength then and again strength and yet more strength is the
need of our race. But if it is strength we desire, how shall we gain
it if we do not adore the Mother of strength? She demands worship
not for Her own sake, but in order that She may help us and
give Herself to us. This is no fantastic idea, no superstition but
the ordinary law of the universe. The gods cannot, if they would,
give themselves unasked. Even the Eternal comes not unaware
upon man. Every devotee knows by experience that we must
turn to Him and desire and adore Him before the Divine Spirit
pours in its ineffable beauty and ecstasy upon the soul. What is
true of the Eternal, is true also of Her who goes forth from Him.
CWSA Vol 6 P75-85.