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object:3.8.1.05 - Occult Knowledge and the Hindu Scriptures
book class:Essays In Philosophy And Yoga
author class:Sri Aurobindo
class:chapter


Occult Knowledge and the Hindu Scriptures
Are any of the following queries touched in Sanatan Dharma books of philosophy?
1) The nature and formation of animal souls.

2) The shape, size, formations, nature and colour of subtle bodies.

3) The difference between the subtle bodies of saints and ordinary people and the process of developing one into the other.

4) The rationale of the reincarnation theory.

5) The nature, constituents and situation of invisible worlds.


The first three questions are of a curious interest, the last two cover a very wide field. All except the fourth belong more or less to a kind of knowledge pursued with eager interest by a growing number of inquirers, but still looked on askance by the human mind in general, - the occult sciences. The Hindu Scriptures and books of philosophy do not as a rule handle such questions very directly or in any systematic fashion. They are concerned either with the great and central questions which have always occupied the human mind, the origin and nature of the universe, the why, whence and whither of life, the highest good and the means of attaining it, the nature of man and the destiny of the human soul and its relation with the Supreme, or else they deal with the regulation of ethics, society and the conduct of daily life. Occult knowledge has been left to be acquired by occult teaching. Nevertheless it was possessed by the ancient sages and our correspondent will find a great deal of more or less scattered information on these and cognate questions in the Veda, Upanishads and Puranas. But it is doubtful whether he would obtain a satisfactory answer to his queries in the form in which he has put them. He will find for instance a long description of invisible

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worlds, - invisible, that is to say, to our physical senses, - in the Vishnu Purana, but it is picturesque rather than precise. We do not think he will find much about the constituents of the worlds or the size of subtle bodies.

The form of the third question lends itself to misconception.

Obviously the method for an ordinary man to develop his subtle body into that of a saint, is to cease to be an ordinary man and to become a saint. There can be no other means. The subtle body is the mental case and reflects the changes of the mentality which is housed in it or the influence exercised on it by the activities and experiences of our physical existence.

Reincarnation is much more prominent and the ideas about it more systematised in Buddhist than in Hindu books. But most of the Hindu philosophies took some kind of reincarnation for granted. It was part of the ancient teaching which had come down to them from the earliest times. They are more concerned with its causes and the method of escape from the obligation of rebirth; the thing itself was for them a fact beyond question.

But the nature of reincarnation is not the same for all the old thinkers. The Upanishads, for instance, seem to teach that the physical self is dissolved at death into its principle, ether; it is the mental being that appears to be born and reborn, but in reality birth and death are merely semblances and operations of
Nature, - of Aditi full of the gods, Aditi devatamay; the spirit is really one in all bodies and is neither born nor dies. Nachiketas in the Katha Upanishad raises the question whether the man as we know and conceive him really survives death and this seems to be the sense of the answer that he receives.




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3.8.1.05_-_Occult_Knowledge_and_the_Hindu_Scriptures, #Essays In Philosophy And Yoga, #Sri Aurobindo, #Integral Yoga
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