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Avataric marriages and the omniscient ass biographer – Sri Aurobindo

by on April 30, 2012

From Nirodbaran's Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, April 26, 1936. Nirodbadan's comments and questions are in italics

Somebody writing the biography of Confucius in Bengali says: “Why do the Dharmagurus marry, we can’t understand.  Buddha did and his wife’s tale is hriday vidarak (heart-rending) …

Why?  What is there vidarak in it?

He goes on: “Sri Aurobindo, though not Dharmaguru, has done it too, and can be called dharma pagal (mad about religion).  Well, Sir?

Well, it is better to be dharma pagal than to be a sententious ass and pronounce on what one does not understand.

“We feel so sad about his wife, so too about the wife of Confucius.”

Poor sorrowful fellows!

“It is the same about Con.  He had even a son and two daughters.”
[Sri Aurobindo put a ? above “Con”.]

Who is this gentleman?  Is it Wrong?  Or is it Kong, by any chance?

“So we don’t understand why they marry and why this change comes soon after marriage.”

Perfectly natural – they marry before the change – then the change comes and the marriage belongs to the past self, not to the new one.

“The wives of Buddha and Ramakrishna felt proud when they were deserted.”

Then what’s the harm?

“If married life is an obstacle to spirituality, then they might as well not marry.”

No doubt.  But then when they marry, there is not an omniscient ass like this biographer to tell them that they were going to be dharmaguru or dharma pagal or in any way concerned with any other dharma than the biographer’s.

So according to this biographer, all of you, except Christ, showed a lack of wisdom by marrying!

Well, if a biographer of Confucius can be such an unmitigated ass, Confucius may be allowed to be unwise once or twice, I suppose.

I touch upon a delicate subject, but it is a puzzle.

Why delicate? and why a puzzle?  Do youthink that Buddha or Confucius or myself were born with a prevision that they or I would take to the spiritual life?  So long as one is in the ordinary consciousness, one lives the ordinary life – when the awakening and the new consciousness come, one leaves it – nothing puzzling in that.

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  1. RY Deshpande permalink

    And there were Rishis who had even two wives, eg Yajnavalkya.

    Here is a dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Gargi, a fair and famous name.

    Gargi said: Yajnavalkya, I shall put two questions to you like two arrows directed at you, even as a king shoots his arrows at his enemies; if you can meet and parry them, yours the victory.

    Yajnavalkaya: “Let me hear then”.

    Gargi: “Yajnavalkya, you once said that the earth is the warp and woof woven upon water; upon what is woven the water?”

    Yajnavalkya: “Air”.

    “Upon what then is air woven?”


    “Upon what is woven the sky?”

    “The world of Gandharvas.”

    “Upon what the Gandharvas?”

    “Upon the Sun.”

    She continued her questioning. And thus she was led successively through higher and higher worlds ― from the Sun to the Moon, then to the Stars, then to the Gods and the King of Gods, then to the Creator of the Gods and the peoples and finally to the Brahmaloka (the world of the One Supreme Transcendent Reality).

    Gargi still continued and asked again: “Upon what is Brahman woven?” To this Yajnavalkya cried halt and warned her: “Now, Gargi, your questioning goes too far, beyond the limits. If you question farther, your head will fall off. You are questioning about a thing that does not bear questioning ― mā ati prāksihanati praśnyā devatā ― the Gods abide not our question.”

    So Gargi had to desist and Yajnavalkya was accepted as the best of the sages (Brahmishtha) and he could drive away home the cattle with nuggets of gold tied on their horns .

    [Narrated by Nolini Kanta Gupta]

    So we have learned women, and married sages, and cows and gold in the houses of the practitioners of spirituality. And when the call comes, they abandon everything. That is what Yajnavalkya did, other Rishis did.

  2. RY Deshpande permalink

    Yajnavalkya had two wives; he lived a rich fruitful life. When the spiritual call came he was ready to accept it fully and go by it. One of his wives, Maitreyi, who was a Brahmavadini, an adept in the knowledge of the Brahman, joined her husband for the spiritual pursuit. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the Rishi’s supreme work.

    But during the time of Yajnavalkya there wasn’t one to problemitize and humanise him, there wasn’t an omniscient ass to write his biography. Learned people with the least spiritual perception would discerningly know it is not this problemitized and humanised life that mattered; it is his Upanishad which would be valued as an ennobling gift to the aspiring soul of humanity. And of course Maitreyi disregarded all this, small nonsense; she opted to be with her husband in search of that knowledge which leads to immortality in life.

    In our days we have peculiar sticks-in-the-intellectual-mud which keep on talking wisely about things for which they have no understanding, no sense, no sensibility, no discernment which is the first step towards higher knowledge. One example is “an omniscient ass like this biographer” who has authored The Lives of Sri Aurobindo and who somehow managed to get it published by an academic press. And imagine an admirer of the Lives saying, the biography reads like Harry Potter! and she is a very learned person!

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