Sri Aurobindo Center
of Los Angeles

The Quest
July 2021

Theme – Speech
  1. Events & Activities
  2. Introduction
  3. The Significance of Truth
  4. Speech and Practice
  5. Outer Speech and the Inner Life
  6. Control of Speech
  7. Mauna or Keeping Silence
  8. Power of the Word
  9. In Gratitude
  10. On the Body
  11. Sri Aurobindo’s Humor
  12. Empowering Lines from Savitri

Events & Activities                                                  Home

The month of July is always vibrant, athrill with the delight of anticipation of Sri Aurobindo's birthday in August. The hearts of devotees echo in unison: "Darshan!", and beat with the feeling of intense gratitude of having had life's greatest gift: coming under His refuge.

With the summer came also increased offerings of work at the Center this month, which included maintenance of the garden and the house. The magnetic pull of the relics of Sri Aurobindo draws many devotees for overnight stays at the Center for an inner spiritual rejuvenation.

The collective meetings conducted virtually over Zoom keep nurturing in us an increasing aspiration for the Divine. Growing towards the Mother with an eye to establishing an inner contact with Her has become the sole focus of our sessions which include Her words, Her voice and Her music. These sadhana sessions are a powerful reminder of Sri Aurobindo's call to us, to all who have turned to His teaching: "The one thing necessary is to be turned to the Mother and that is all that is needed".

Now over to the theme for this month.

Introduction                                                             Home

Dear Fellow-Seekers,

This month’s offering is on Speech. Through speech abstract ideas are clothed in words and see the light of day. We are often not conscious that speech claims energy and time of our lives. This instrument when used carefully forges unity and inspires others, similarly when misused, creates chasms amongst us. Ignorant criticism and gossip are the leaking holes through which precious life force is wasted. Each word spoken carries the stamp of the speaker. To a sincere seeker of the Integral Yoga, no part of life is to be ignored. Mastery of speech, and not an artificial silence, is an essential step in the journey to Divine Life. Self-reflection and a purposeful effort to connect with the inner and higher self are important tools to attain this mastery. Please go through the issue to learn about the spiritual significance of speech, how to communicate consciously and dissent gracefully.
In the Gratitude section we are introduced to Janani, meaning mother in Sanskrit. Living up to her name, like a mother she pours her energy on our Center.
If we are burdened by our yoke of seriousness, Sri Aurobindo’s refreshing humor is there to lighten us. Lines from Savitri, On the Body, carefully chosen art works, design and layout form the foundation of the aesthetic experience that we strive to offer to our readers.
Let us respect ourselves, and value our words, for truly they are a part of us, and continue our practice.
Wish you all peace, progress and a very happy reading.

From the Quest Team
All are invited to join us for the following virtual events taking place via Zoom video and teleconferencing calls.

Free Flowing Discussion – Tuesdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Pacific Time

Savitri Reading - Thursdays, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm Pacific Time

Essays on the Gita - Saturdays, 4:30 pm- 6:00 pm Pacific Time

Click here for the Zoom Meeting details.
The Significance of Truth                                        Home

One drop of truth is worth more than an ocean of false information.
Never tell a lie: absolute condition for safety on the path.
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 201

If you do not wish to say something which is true, instead of lying just keep silent.
If we allow a falsehood, however small, to express itself through our mouth or our pen, how can we hope to become perfect messengers of Truth? A perfect servant of Truth should abstain even from the slightest inexactitude, exaggeration or deformation.
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 202

It is very evident from this inward control which you feel enlightening and guiding you and the resolution of truth-speaking that it made you take, that your psychic being is awake within you.

The fault of character of which you speak is common and almost universal in human nature. The impulse to speak what is untrue or at least to exaggerate or understate or twist the truth so as to flatter one’s own vanity, preferences, wishes or to get some advantage or secure something desired is very general. But one must learn to speak the truth alone if one is to succeed truly in changing the nature.

To become conscious of what is to be changed in the nature is the first step towards changing it. But one must observe these things without being despondent or thinking “it is hopeless” or “I cannot change”. You do right to be confident that the change will come. For nothing is impossible in the nature if the psychic being is awake and leading you with the Mother’s consciousness and force behind it and working in you. This is now happening. Be sure that all will be done.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 89
Speech or Practice                                           Home
On the path of Truth, in order to know more you must put into practice what you already know. A little bit of sincere practice is worth much more than a lot of written or spoken words.
July 1953
A drop of practice is better than an ocean of theories, advices and good resolutions.
Talk little, be true, act sincerely.
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 207

(Message for the inauguration of Sri Aurobindo’s Action)
To speak well is good. To act well is better. Never let your actions be below your words.

The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 209
9 July 1970
April 1953
The Mother, CWM Volume 12, Page 59 & 63.
Outer Speech and the Inner Life                            Home

Even those who have a strong inner life, take a long time before they can connect it with the outer speech and action. Outer speech belongs to the externalising mind — that is why it is so difficult to connect it with the inner life.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 80

That [feeling of fatigue after talking] happens very usually. Talking of an unnecessary character tires the inner being because the talk comes from the outer nature while the inner has to supply the energy which it feels squandered away.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 82
It [gossiping] can be and very often is [a hindrance to sadhana].
A gossiping spirit is always an obstacle.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 88
The habit of criticism — mostly ignorant criticism of others — mixed with all sorts of imaginations, inferences, exaggerations, false interpretations, even gross inventions is one of the universal illnesses of the Ashram. It is a disease of the vital aided by the physical mind which makes itself an instrument of the pleasure taken in this barren and harmful pursuit of the vital. Control of the speech, refusal of this disease and the itch of the vital is very necessary if inner experience has to have any true effect of transformation in the outer life.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 87
"It [gossiping] can be and very often is [a hindrance to sadhana].
A gossiping spirit is always an obstacle.

Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 88
Control of Speech                                                    Home

If only people did remain a little quiet before speaking, acting or writing, much trouble could be avoided. So many things are said uselessly, they bring misunderstandings and bad feelings which could have been saved with silence. If were spoken only the words that needed to be spoken, the world would be a very silent place.

29 December 1934
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 203

It is always a sign of strength to be able to say things gently and it is always weakness that bursts out into unpleasantness.

18 April 1956
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 205

The habits of the physical or the vital-physical nature are always the most difficult to change, because their action is automatic and not governed by the mental will and it is therefore difficult for the mental will to control or transform them. You have to persevere and form the habit of control. If you can succeed in controlling the speech often, — it needs a constant vigilance, — you will finally find that the control extends itself and can in the long run always intervene. This must be done so long as that movement is not fully opened to the Mother’s Light and Force, for if that happens the thing can be done more quickly and sometimes with a great rapidity. There is also the intervention of the psychic — if the psychic being is sufficiently awake and active to intervene each time you are going to speak at random and say “No”, then the change becomes more easy.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 86
The psychic self-control that is desirable in these surroundings and in the midst of discussion would mean among other things:

1.           Not to allow the impulse of speech to assert itself too much or say anything without reflection, but to speak always with a conscious control and only what is necessary and helpful.
2.           To avoid all debate, dispute or too animated discussion and simply say what has to be said and leave it there. There should also be no insistence that you are right and the others wrong, but what is said should only be thrown in as a contribution to the consideration of the truth of the matter. I notice that what you report X as having said in this discussion had its truth and what you said was also true, so that really there should have been no dispute.
3.           To keep the tone of speech and the wording very quiet and calm and uninsistent.
4.           Not to mind at all if others are heated and dispute, but remain quiet and undisturbed and yourself speak only what can help things to be smooth again.
5.           If there is gossip about others and harsh criticism (especially about sadhaks), not to join — for these things are helpful in no way and only lower the consciousness from its higher level.
6.           To avoid all that would hurt or wound others.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 87
Mauna and Keeping Silence                                                    Home

An atmosphere of spirituality sometimes helps much more than an exchange of words.

22 November 1951
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 204
Control over what one says is more important than complete silence. The best is to learn to say what is useful in the most exact and true way possible.

5 March 1933
The Mother, CWM Volume 14, Page 202
Mauna is seldom of much use. After it is over, the speech starts again as on the old lines. It is in speech itself that the speech must change.
It is really an inner silence that is needed — a something silent within that looks at outer talk and action but feels it as something superficial, not as itself and is quite indifferent and untouched by it. It can bring forces to support speech and action or it can stop them by withdrawal or it can let them go on and observe without being involved or moved.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 93
Power of the Bird                                                     Home


When a thought is expressed in speech, the vibration of the sound has a considerable power to bring the most material substance into contact with the thought, thus giving it a concrete and effective reality. That is why one must never speak ill of people or things or say things which go against the progress of the divine realisation in the world. This is an absolute general rule. And yet it has one exception. You should not criticise anything unless at the same time you have the conscious power and active will to dissolve or transform the movements or things you criticise. …

April 1953
The Mother, CWM Volume 12, Page 60

In conclusion, I would say this: if you want your speech to express the truth and thus acquire the power of the Word, never think out beforehand what you want to say, do not decide what is a good or bad thing to say, do not calculate the effect of what you are going to say. Be silent in mind and remain unwavering in the true attitude of constant aspiration towards the All-Wisdom, the All-Knowledge, the All-Consciousness. Then, if your aspiration is sincere, if it is not a veil for your ambition to do well and to succeed, if it is pure, spontaneous and integral, you will then be able to speak very simply, to say the words that ought to be said, neither more nor less, and they will have a creative power.
April 1953
The Mother, CWM Volume 12, Page 62
Yes, obviously, the power to say “No” is indispensable in life and still more so in sadhana. It is the power of rejection put into speech.
Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 31, Page 94

In Gratitude                                                               Home
Janani Shankar
I grew up in an Indian family in Chennai, close to Pondicherry. My mother’s ancestral village is near Pondicherry, we used to visit the Ashram and pay respects at the Samadhi during our annual visit to my grandfather’s place. At that time, I felt no special connection to the Ashram, it was just a holy place, that is to be respected as per our culture.
I fell seriously ill when I was 15. I spent that summer at a Sri Aurobindo Center in a small-town with my mom’s friend, who managed the center. I healed myself in the Divine atmosphere, spending hours in deep concentration, making floral arrangements - “Rangoli” or, “Mandala” as we do in India. I recovered and felt an inner balance. The center’s vibration worked deep within; I was drawn towards the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and looked upon them as my guardian angels. A few years later, when I stayed in a hostel, pursuing my higher studies, I kept a photo of the Mother on my desk and counted on her for all the protection in a new environment. 
My partner in life: Bharani

Nitika Bharanidharan, Janani Shankar, Bharanidharan Ranganathan and Nishtha Bharanidharan (from left to right)

When Bharani first came to meet me, he saw the Mother’s photo in my room and felt the inner consent for our partnership. His family is devoted completely to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

In 2011, Bharani and I moved to the United States. We felt an inner vacantness as we started to settle down, away from our family and India. We discussed that we should go a temple to regain our inner poise, and as I searched for a temple in our neighborhood, surprisingly the Sri Aurobindo Center, Culver city showed up on the internet. And to our amazement it was only five mins drive from where we lived. The center soon became our spiritual oasis. Fast forward ten years, the center is our second home and is everything for us. Since then, our lives revolve around the center. We are so blessed to be able to serve for the center as a daily routine. The members of the center are like family.
We are so blessed that our girls Nitika and Nishtha are growing up in our center’s atmosphere. I see my reflection when I look at them making the floral arrangements and help us clean the center etc. Our family is truly being taken care completely by The Mother. We can always feel Her protection and Her living presence around us.

Janani and her family are integral karma yogins, they come as a lovely bouquet of offerings for our LA Center.  All four of them are devoted to keep the Center: House and the Garden, as clean and beautiful as though it is their own home! Her devotion for our Gurus is manifested at the center, as she creatively decorates the Center altar for Darshan occasions, one senses pure joy and gets inspired by her profound love for the Mother.
It is a sight to see our little Nishtha, vacuuming the carpeting of the center, one is in awe! Nishtha and Nitika, are following their mom’s footsteps! Janani’s offering for the Center is not just to maintain it, but aesthetically arranging, redesigning and upgrading it, photographing the activities and cooking on special occasions - making it a pulsating living unit. She loves Savitri, reading and living it, enthusiastically participating in our Savitri reading sessions.

On the Body                                                              Home
This body which was once my universe,
        Is now a pittance carried by the soul,–
Its Titan’s motion bears this scanty purse,
        Pacing through vastness to a vaster goal.
Too small was it to meet the giant need
        That only infinitude can satisfy:
He keeps it still, for in the folds is hid
        His secret passport to eternity.
In his front an endless Time and Space deploy
        The landscape of their golden happenings;
His heart is filled with sweet and violent joy,
         His mind is upon great and distant things.
How grown with all the world conterminous
Is the little dweller in this narrow house!
- Sri Aurobindo, CWSA Volume 2, Page 617

Sri Aurobindo's Humor                                             Home
Sadhak: I can never imagine that someday I shall have an expert knowledge of carpentry to supervise and regulate the work.
Sri Aurobindo: Well, get Energy from above (the Force) and put it forcefully on the carpenters – If one day you can do that, you will amply justify your timber throne.
- Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Page 99
Empowering Lines from Savitri                             Home
A divine Puissance then takes Nature’s place
And pushes the movements of our body and mind;
Possessor of our passionate hopes and dreams,
The beloved despot of our thoughts and acts,
She streams into us with her unbound force,
Into mortal limbs the Immortal’s rapture and power.
An inner law of beauty shapes our lives;
Our words become the natural speech of Truth,
Each thought is a ripple on a sea of Light.
- Savitri, Page 530,
Book 7: The Book of Yoga,
Canto 5: The Finding of the Soul
A Collective Offering by Team at Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles.
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