Amal Kiran on the Mind of Light
In 1949, when the Bulletin of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education was launched, Sri Aurobindo was requested by the Mother to initiate it with an article of his. On her request Sri Aurobindo dictated a series of eight articles. Though the initial articles were meant to reveal the value and importance of sports and gymnastics but the later articles took a different and new turn and revealed some extraordinary facts in detail regarding the functioning of the Supermind. The articles were brought out in the form of a booklet titled The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth in 1952, that is, two years after the departure of Sri Aurobindo. This booklet was rightly termed as the sequel to The Life Divine by K.D.Sethna alias Amal Kiran. In the sixth article titled Supermind in the Evolution, for the first time we come across the term ‘a mind of light’. The chapter begins with the following words:
“A new humanity would then be a race of mental beings on the earth and in the earthly body but delivered from its present conditions in the reign of the cosmic Ignorance so far as to be possessed of a perfected mind, a mind of light which could be a subordinate action of the supermind or Truth-Consciousness and in any case capable of the full possibilities of mind acting as a recipient of that truth and at least a secondary action of it in thought and life. It could even be a part of what could be described as a divine life upon earth and at least the beginnings of an evolution in the Knowledge and no longer entirely or predominantly in the Ignorance.” (page 87)
Despite its immense significance only a handful of Aurobindonian authors have truly understood the actual importance and among them, the most notable are Amal Kiran, R.Y.Deshpande and Georges Van Vrekhem. In this present article, we shall attempt to discuss Amal Kiran’s views on the Mind of Light.
What is the Mind of Light? The Mother has simply described it as ‘the physical mind receiving the supramental light’. The definition is indeed simple but profound in meaning. But how did Sri Aurobindo who was the possessor of the Mind of Light describe it and its characteristics? Let’s quote a few passages from the booklet The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth to illustrate the definition and its traits elaborately.
1. “A new humanity means for us the appearance, the development of a type or race of mental beings whose principle of mentality would be no longer a mind in the Ignorance seeking for knowledge but even in its knowledge bound to Ignorance, a seeker after Light but not its natural possessor, open to the Light but not an inhabitant of the Light, not yet a perfected instrument, truth-conscious and delivered out of the Ignorance. Instead, it would be possessed already of what could be called a mind of Light, a mind capable of living in the truth, capable of being truth-conscious and manifesting in its life a direct in place of an indirect knowledge. Its mentality would be an instrument of the Light and no longer of the Ignorance. At its highest it would be capable of passing into the supermind and from the new race would be recruited the race of supramental beings who would appear as the leaders of the evolution of the earth-nature. Even, the highest manifestations of a mind of Light would be an instrumentality of the supermind, a part of it or a projection from it, a stepping beyond humanity into the superhumanity of the supramental principle. Above all, its possession would enable the human being to rise beyond the normalities of his present thinking, feeling and being into those highest powers of the mind in its self-exceedings which intervene between our mentality and supermind and can be regarded as steps leading towards the greater and more luminous principle. This advance like others in the evolution might not be reached and would naturally not be reached at one bound but from the very beginning it would be inevitable: the pressure of the supermind creating from above out of itself the mind of Light would compel this certainty of the eventual outcome.”(Ibid., page 98)
2. “Mind founded in life developed intellect, developed its types of knowledge and ignorance, truth and error till it reached the spiritual perception and illumination and now can see as in a glass dimly the possibility of the supermind and a truth-conscious existence. In this inevitable ascent the mind of Light is a gradation, an inevitable stage. As an evolving principle it will mark a stage in the human ascent and evolve a new type of human being; this development must carry in it an ascending gradation of its own powers and types of an ascending humanity which will embody more and more the turn towards spirituality, capacity for Light, a climb towards a divinised manhood and the divine life. (Ibid., page 99-100)
3. “In the birth of the mind of Light and its ascension into its own recognisable self and its true status and right province there must be, in the very nature of things as they are and very nature of the evolutionary process as it is at present, two stages. In the first, we can see the mind of Light gathering itself out of the Ignorance, assembling its constituent elements, building up its shapes and types however imperfect at first and pushing them towards perfection till it can cross the border of the Ignorance and appear in the Light, in its own Light. In the second stage we can see it developing itself in that greater natural light taking its higher shapes and forms till it joins the supermind and lives as its subordinate portion or its delegate. In each of these stages it will define its own grades and manifest the order of its beings who will embody it and give to it a realised life. Thus there will be built up, first, even in the Ignorance itself, the possibility of a human ascent towards a divine living; then there will be, by the illumination of this mind of Light in the greater realisation of what may be called a gnostic mentality, in a transformation of the human being, even before the supermind is reached, even in the earth-consciousness and in a humanity transformed, an illumined divine life.” (Ibid., page 100-101)
4. “The Mind of Light is a subordinate action of Supermind, dependent upon it even when not apparently springing direct from it, in which the secret of this connection becomes evident and palpable.” (Ibid., page 103)
5. “In the Mind of Light when it [Mind] becomes full-orbed this character of the Truth reveals itself though in a garb that is transparent even when it seems to cover: for this too is a truth-consciousness and a self-power of knowledge. This too proceeds from the Supermind and depends upon it even though it is limited and subordinate. What we have called specifically the Mind of Light is indeed the last of a series of descending planes of consciousness in which the Supermind veils itself by a self-chosen limitation or modification of its self-manifesting activities, but its essential character remains the same: there is in it an action of light, of truth, of knowledge in which inconscience, ignorance and error claim no place. It proceeds from knowledge to knowledge; we have not yet crossed over the borders of the truth-conscious into ignorance.” (Ibid., page 103-104)
6. “…the Mind of Light is a transitional passage by which we can pass from supermind and superhumanity to an illumined humanity. For the new humanity will be capable of at least a partly divinised way of seeing and living because it will live in the light and in knowledge and not in the obscuration of the Ignorance.” (Ibid., page 104-105)
7. “In the order of the evolutionary descent we stand in the Mind of Light on that border and a step downward can carry us beyond it into the beginnings of an ignorance which still bears on its face something of the luminosity that it is leaving behind it. On the other hand, in the ascending order of the evolution we reach a transition in which we see the light, are turned towards it, reflected in our consciousness and one further step carries us into the domain of Light.” (Ibid., page 105-106)
The process of transformation involves the transformation of the physical mind first, followed by the physical vital which would become the second centre of operation after receiving the supramental light; it would be followed by the supramentalization of the physical proper and thus, the complete divinization of the nature of the earth will be executed. Now, this physical mind has to be converted into the Mind of Light in order to be utilized for the process of supramentalization of the body vital and the body matter.
However in his monumental book titled The Vision and Work of Sri Aurobindo, Amal Kiran makes us cautious that it would be unwise and wrong to assume that the Mind of Light was created by ‘a linking up of the human mental with the Supermind in the manner of Spiritual Mind’s ladder.’ He warns us of another misconception which makes us believe that the Mind of Light is “the last rung of Spiritual Mind’s ladder, an already existent plane on its own, in which that ladder continues at the end where Higher Mind is stationed, instead of breaking at this end and leaving the human mental a level of ignorance.” (The Vision and Work of Sri Aurobindo, page 109)
Regarding the passage (on page 108 of The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth) where Sri Aurobindo writes about the Mind of Light as another development ‘in this series of the order of existence and as the last word of the lower hemisphere of being, the first word of the higher hemisphere,” Amal Kiran explains that it is something which is not present in any of the hemispheres but “forms between the two in the course of time a link of transition by which the human passes towards and fuses with the superhuman, a state in which the lower itself finds a culmination in Light and becomes a plane of knowledge like those of the higher hemisphere, a plane which preludes the realisation of the whole higher hemisphere in the human.” (Ibid., page 110) He adds: “It is when we look at this link after it has been formed, this state after it has got realised, that it stands as “the last of a series of descending planes of consciousness in which Supermind veils itself by a self-chosen limitation or modification.” It does not stand already existent but takes shape as a result of the Supermind’s action upon the human mental: it is a conversion of ignorance into Light, making, as Sri Aurobindo says, “human mentality an adjunct and a minor instrumentation of the supramental knowledge.”’(Ibid., page 110)
At the same time Amal Kiran reminds us: ‘Sri Aurobindo also speaks of “the pressure of the Supermind creating from above out of itself the Mind of Light” at a certain stage of earth’s development and, although he frequently refers to the replacing of the human mental ignorance by the Mind of Light, he nowhere alludes to the Mind of Light descending, as he does to Spiritual Mind descending or Supermind descending—an omission impossible if the Mind of Light were an pre-existent plane above the human mental instead of “the physical mind receiving the supramental light.” Besides, if this Mind were a plane belonging to Spiritual Mind’s ladder, Sri Aurobindo would certainly mention it in The Life Divine where he gives a detailed description of the various rungs.’(Ibid., page 110) But he admits that with reference upon to the passage mentioned above, two suggestions could be thought of. What are they? The first one is that when the Mind of Light takes shape, it is a “creation of Supermind on the same principle as are the grades of Spiritual Mind, so that it seems to be not Supermind itself in the physical mentality but a newly arrived member of the family of Spiritual Mind.”(Ibid., page 110-111) The second one is that the Mind of Light “gets its membership in this family pretty low in the scale, for it appears to be a state inferior to Higher Mind though still a state of knowledge and not of ignorance.” (Ibid., page 111)
Regarding the family of Spiritual Mind, Sri Aurobindo writes in the last article of The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth titled Supermind and Mind of Light: “We may say that there is a higher hemisphere of our being in which Mind luminous and aware of its workings still lives in the Light and can be seen as a subordinate power of the Supermind; it is still an agent of the Truth-Consciousness, a gnostic power that has not descended into the mental ignorance; it is capable of a mental gnosis that preserves its connection with the superior light and acts by its power. This is the character of Overmind in its own plane and of all the powers that are dependent on the Overmind: the Supermind works there but at one remove, as if in something that it has put forth from itself but which is no longer entirely itself but is still a delegate of the Truth and invested with its authority. We are moving towards a transitional border beyond which lies the possibility of the Ignorance, but the Ignorance is not yet here.” (page 105) And in this light, the Mind of Light is defined as the Supermind’s subordinate action which is dependent on the Supermind though it does not arise from it. Therefore Amal Kiran corrects us that the Mind of Light is not just a plane which pre-exists but it is actually “a luminous kingdom” which has been created due to the conversion of the physical mentality and that the Mind of Light is ‘a manifestation from above in the human mentality; a manifestation in which, to quote Sri Aurobindo’s words, “inconscience, ignorance and error can claim no place.”’ (The Vision and Work of Sri Aurobindo, page 112)
Since the Supermind is the Supreme Creator and everything is actuated by it, therefore it is only the Supermind that is capable of bringing about the changes marked by the Mind of Light “in the stuff of ignorance” caused by the liberation of the luminous ladder. Hence, no matter how restrained the movement of the Mind of Light may be ‘from truth to truth’, it is indeed an accurate expression “of the supramental power operating in persona propria and not, as in Spiritual Mind, with a change of characteristic poise in the deployment of knowledge” and it is “itself Supermind creative in the field of terrestrial evolution and operating in human mind-terms.” (Ibid., page 114)
Now Amal Kiran darts a difficult question: “how can a creation by Supermind of itself in the embodied mentality be inferior to a plane which, for all its lack of ignorance, is still pretty far from Supermind?” He answers this question himself but with a brief preface in which he says that the Mind of Light must be possessing numerous forms in the place of its manifestation, that is, the field of terrestrial evolution. If it appears to be inferior compared to the Higher Mind at some stage, then it is capable of developing itself beyond it. In contains in its very initial form the entire Truth-Consciousness, that is, the Supermind which “escapes all Spiritual Mind” and not even the vastness of the Overmind is capable of comprising it.
According to Amal Kiran, the Mind of Light’s initial form does not have ‘an iota of ignorance’ despite its apparent inferiority to the Higher Mind. Though it is ‘less intense’ and ‘immense in actual outburst’ but even then it is absolutely clear. Amal Kiran discusses it in detail in the following words: “The mass-ideation of Higher Mind, the far-ranging colourful vision-glow of Illumined Mind, the piercing intimate ubiquitous lightning-seizures of Intuition, the resplendent multitudinous catholicity and globality of Overmind may import into the human mental on their descent into it a certain richness as well as swiftness which the initially realised Mind of Light does not exhibit; yet, while the richness and swiftness will not always work in utter purity everywhere since they are still working on an unabolished though subdued ground of ignorance, the Mind of Light from the very start is utterly pure in whatever restrained quality of knowledge it exhibits.” (Ibid., page 115)
Again Amal Kiran puts a question on behalf of his readers and all the aspirants of the Path: can the Mind of Light which is a result of the Supermind’s descent be created in the body unless the Higher Mind, the Illumined Mind, the Intuitive Mind and the Overmind have been realized in descent and have also functioned on the plane of physical mentality? “The answer”, according to him, “is at once Yes and No.” He explains it further: “For we have to draw a line between the Mind of Light forming at a highly advanced stage in the course of the Aurobindonian Yoga and the same essential power manifesting afterwards in humanity in general as an effect of this formation or in those who have not gone far in that Yoga. The one presupposes in the individual a whole history of spiritual realisations and it climaxes a long series of descents and preludes the descent of the Supermind into bodily life-force and bodily matter. The other is a condition of various sorts. Broadly, it is that produced in people not yet ready for embodying the supramental Gnosis but sufficiently responsive to change radically from mere mind under the sovereign pressure of a Supermind descended on a large scale through the Aurobindonian Yoga into the occult atmosphere, so to speak, of earth’s being. In the long run it could be in mankind a condition even from birth as mere mind is today and that would be most in line with what is generally meant by evolutionary achievement. In many cases the condition will be of those who, though responsive to the supramental Gnosis, have not had any substantial commerce with Spiritual Mind’s gradation and into whom therefore there cannot have been a previous descent of Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition and Overmind. But this condition will be precisely what facilitates substantial commerce by rendering it natural. And, through the commerce, one who lives in this Mind of Light will be by right effort able to climb towards and into Supermind as well as call it down.” (Ibid., page 116)
But then Amal kiran adds: “But neither the substantial commerce with Spiritual Mind nor the dealings with the supramental Gnosis will everywhere be present. While in a number of human beings they will both be present, in others Spiritual Mind alone will be more or less freely contacted and in still others no free contact even with Spiritual Mind and so none with Supermind either will be there. From the first group recruits will be drawn for the expansion of the gnostic race whose nucleus we may expect to take shape out of those who are living in the Aurobindonian Yoga. The remaining two groups will be stages between this race and whatever of the human species with mind, as we ordinarily observe it, may persist for a shorter or longer time.” (Ibid., page 116-117)
Now let’s come to the topic of ascent and descent of the Mind of Light. Once the Mind of Light has been shaped, it can reflect perfectly in its absolutely purified and exalted condition ‘something of the overhead planes’ and then rise to the higher altitudes of the Higher Mind, the Illumined Mind, the Intuitive Mind, the Overmind and the Supermind. But it must be noted that the ascent of the Mind of Light will not be the same experience as compared to the ascent of the ordinary mind. This is due to the fact that they will receive something that is the Supermind itself ‘in mental terms’ and their experience will be ‘a progressive movement from the lowest to the highest note of the Supermind’s own gamut, as it were, rather than a conversion from the ordinary mental to the spiritual mental by a change of characteristic poise and again, by another such change, to the supramental.” (Ibid., page 117-118) This ascent which is of a new kind will act as an ‘accompaniment’ and would also foster the descent into the physical mind, physical vital and physical proper.
Regarding the descent of the Mind of light, Amal Kiran writes: “Its initial form which seems a continuation, below Higher Mind, of the luminous ladder is the precursor of one in which the human mental acts as if it has been completely assimilated, step after step, by the Light of descended Spiritual Mind…The presence of the Mind of Light in one indicates that the stuff of ignorance, in which no change can be dynamically absolute before Supermind has come on the scene, is not resistant in one any longer: the Supermind has come and ignorance has radically ceased. But now not only has a continuation of the luminous ladder been brought about; a possibility has also been introduced of the total assimilation by Spiritual Mind of the human mental. The thorough and embodiment, therefore, of all the grades of Spiritual Mind can happen now after Supermind has started taking a direct hand instead of playing on the human mental indirectly through those grades. Once the Mind of Light begins it reign Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition, Overmind can found themselves securely and authentically on its supramental basis and reach their own perfection as embodied powers. When they do this, the Mind of Light assumes it second form. Repeating the name of Sri Aurobindo gives to Spiritual Mind in its own undescended hierarchy as well as to the Mind of Light ascended there, we should call the Mind of Light in its second form in the body mental Gnosis as distinguished from the Gnosis proper which is Supermind.” (Ibid., page 118-119)
And he further adds: “Beyond mental Gnosis the Mind of Light manifests, in complete assimilation of the human mental, the Gnosis proper and assumes its third and sovereign form. But what the two kinds of Gnosis are in the hierarchy above the human mental is not what they are here. There they are separate though connected levels, each a cosmos with its own type and function: here the one is merely the other partially unfolded. For, the Mind of Light is not anywhere anything else than the Supermind in progressive manifestation in embodied nature. As we have observed, its very inception signalises that the Supermind is acting directly and is in immediate presence on the level of the physical mentality. But in its initial and middle forms the directness and the immediacy are, in different measures, restrained: the third form employs them freely. The supreme divinity which releases a little of its magnificence under the form of an apparent continuation at the lower end of Spiritual Mind’s gradation and then “an ampler ether, a diviner air” in the form of wholly descended mental Gnosis, is utterly laid open—a towering apocalypse in the terms of the human mental—by the third form the Mind of Light takes.” (Ibid., page 119)
Next in terms of moon-phases, let’s discuss the phases of the Mind of Light. It can be said that there would be growth of light ‘from silver to more ampler silver’ till the Overmind is crossed. When the Supramental is discerned, the silver transforms into gold(as gold signifies the colour of the Supermind), “the full moon shows itself as a sun white-seeming in its immediate front before the aureate depths are found shining out.” (Ibid., page 122) The Mind of Light’s phases would be of “a moon golden” or “a sun behaving like a moon” right from its actual commencement. This is because the Divine Mind is looked upon not in its permanent existence in the Supermind as the third strand of the Supramental’s ‘triple status’ but “in its manifestation in an evolving scheme on earth, in which there is a stage-by-stage expression of the supramental epiphany.” (Ibid., page 122-123) This phases of sun-moon symbolizes the successive states of the embodiment of the Supermind. So Amal Kiran writes: “…when the Supermind acts directly, the preliminary to their descended condition as brought about by it is the Mind of Light in its initial form. Thus, in terms of phases of a sun-moon, the human mind re-created as a somewhat diminished continuation of Higher Mind will be the crescent, a thin bright curve with upward-pointing arms within which the rest of the sun-moon’s rondure is faintly visible, a rim of Light which is not really severed from the solar-lunar globe but only put forth for a certain purpose and play as the apparent edge of a secret splendour.” (Ibid., page 123)
Before we conclude the article, let’s make a synopsis: the supramental transformation of the matter of the body cells, rather, the mind of the body cells was termed the Mind of Light by Sri Aurobindo. It is the genuine Truth-Consciousness or Unity-Consciousness which exists in the mental consciousness of matter. It marks not only the descent of the Supermind into the physical mentality but also the manifestation of that which can be termed as the counterpart in the Supermind ‘of this mentality’s terms.’ The manifestation of the counterpart is the third form of the Mind of Light and it has to be a power which is ‘mental’ and not ‘supramental’ or else the mind would not be resulted into and the Spiritual Mind will also be deprived of its foundation in the Supreme Consciousness. The descent of the Supermind which resulted in the birth of the Mind of Light ‘in its full orb’ brought ‘the progressively unfolding action of the whole [that is, the Supermind].’(Ibid., page 124) When Sri Aurobindo, who was the sole possessor of the Mind of Light in his body, descended into death the Mind of Light got realized in the body of the Mother who herself had admitted it. What was meant by the entry of the Mind of Light into the Mother’s body was that Sri Aurobindo himself had entered into her and she had said many a time that he was always present in her, around her and with her. And she continued the work of bringing down the Supramental on earth and on 29 February 1956 the much-awaited manifestation took place. On 25 September 1914, she had written in her diary:
“The Lord has willed and Thou dost execute:
A new Light shall break upon the earth.
A new world shall be born,
And the things that were promised shall be fulfilled.”
And she proclaimed this great event in the Bulletin of April 1956 in the following words:
“Lord, Thou hast willed, and I execute:
A new light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born.
The things that were promised are fulfilled.”
But how with the Mind of Light was the Mother able to bring down and cause the manifestation of the Supramental on earth is a different story and hence it would be discussed elsewhere.
Born on 13 October 1984, Anurag Banerjee is an essayist, biographer, poet and researcher. His first book, Nirodbaran: The Surrealist’s Journey was published in December 2006. He wrote the biography of Dilip Kumar Roy at the age of twenty in 2005 and translated 100 poems of Sri Aurobindo into Bengali at the age of twenty-one in 2006. His published works include Nirodbaran: The Surrealist’s Journey (2006), Achinpather Dibyapathik (2008), and Debotar Shrom (2008).