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Construction of the Life Divine

  August 23, 2005


The Construction of The Life Divine is given in the fly leaves of the Book. It can be called structure. It is divided into two books. The first is involution and the second is evolution. Sri Aurobindo departs from the thought of the world radically to posit that the Omnipresent Reality became the universe. This idea is explained in the first book of 28 chapters. The chapter No.28 was added in 1940. Chapters 9,10,11,12 explain Sachchidananda. 13,14,15,16,17 describe the Process of Creation. They are the Chapters on Supermind preceded by one on The Divine Maya and succeeded by one on The Divine Soul. 18 is on Mind, 19,20,21,22 are on Life 23 on the Psychic 24 & 25 on Matter. Chapter 26 is on evolution while 27 is the summary of Involution. Chapter 28 was added on in 1940 to more fully explain the role of the Overmind and to emphasis the inevitability of the advent of the Supermind.

His yoga is also called by Him as Yoga of Spiritual evolution. The entire second book is Knowledge and Ignorance - Spiritual evolution.♣ The Omnipresent Reality of the first book becomes infinite consciousness here. Ignorance, by spiritual evolution rises to infinite consciousness. The second part is Knowledge and Spiritual evolution.

In the first book the first 7 chapters are on the contradictions of creation under the Two Negations He deals with the opposition between Matter and Spirit. Chapter 5 speaks of the Destiny of the individual where He shows that the contradiction between the sub-conscient and superconscient is to be reconciled by MAN. Chapter 6 is on the contradiction between the universe and the individual. The Book opens with the Human Aspiration where He lists out all the disharmony between the body and the Vital and the Mind and Supermind. Chapter two describes the reconciliation of Matter and Spirit in cosmic consciousness while chapter 3 speaks of the same reconciliation at the level of the transcendent consciousness. Chapter four is on how the Omnipresent Reality became the Universe. The central themes of The Life Divine are four which are explained at the end of chapter 3  P.24. The Rishis saw the One without the second as well as realised All is Brahman. Their mental perception could see these two halves of the same truth only alternatively. Mind has no ability to reconcile them. Only Supermind can. So to Him it is the first essential point. The scientist who rules the world today knows Matter is Energy but has not gone beyond to know what that Energy is. The sannyasin who knew the Self went to its origin the Absolute. Sri Aurobindo is sorry the scientist does not know his Matter as fully as the sannyasi knew His spirit. Should he do so they will meet. So, it is for the yogi to consummate it, Next He notes we who learn of the God in the descent have not equally explored the God in the ascent which is the Supramental Being. Lastly He points out to the harmony the Aryan forefathers achieved with Nature. At the physical level of our being they achieved the harmony with the physical Nature. The next work is to achieve a similar harmony at the Supramental life. Chapter seven is on the origin of dualities or the originator of dualities, the ego.

Before taking up His own thesis of Sachchidananda becoming the universe, He tells us  of  the vedantic knowledge, the first discovery of  Man  of  intuition  by separating the senses from the Reason. The unresolved questions of the vedantic period, the relation between the world and God are raised in the eighth chapter. It is His way of announcing that HE begins where the Vedanta left off. The intuition the Rishis discovered is yogic intuition of the soul which is not known to non-yogis. Sri Aurobindo wrote The Life Divine as the Mother had requested. It was addressed to the European intellect. To those intellectuals Byron and Shelley are real. Poetic intuition which is mental intuition is known to the Europeans. Sri Aurobindo introduces Sachchidananda to the European Mind through their familiarity of poetic intuition. It emerges when the ego moves away. In the Synthesis He speaks of the universal vision of the poet Wordsworth. He presents the Vedic vision of hyrdaya samudra, a vision of energy which the unegoistic mind can see. It is not merely Energy but Existence and it is infinite. Thus the chapter on Pure Existent is ended. Before ending the chapter a monumental Question whether Force is independent or an expression of Being is raised. This is exactly a parallel to the question HE raised at the end of the previous chapter of Vedantic Knowledge, 'How to reconcile the ego and the Sat Purusha'

In the chapter on Conscious Force He proves that the Force is conscious and it is the power of the Being. This answers the Rishi who held that the Force is a self-existent force. Also it answers the scientist who declares that the Force is non-conscious. On Delight HE has two chapters one on its problem and the other solution. When God has created only delight Man sees pain, suffering, and evil everywhere. This is so because Man is in ego, a separated entity. All the ills are the result of separation. Incidentally He raises the problem of ethics and argues that ethics is only a stage in evolution as above Man life is supra ethical and below infra ethical. What is common to all the three is the static truth emerging into active truth of everlasting Joy. Another theme is Sachchidananda is trying to express the objectless joy in the objects while Man blindly seeks the objects, thus meeting pain.

The next chapter is on The Divine Maya, He rejects the usual meaning of Maya as illusion and stands by the Vedic significance of a force that measures out and cuts off from a whole. His own definition is Maya is the consciousness of the Brahman, the Absolute. Here we know the word consciousness means nature or power, the thing one is conscious of. If Mind is capable of Memory we can say that Memory is the consciousness of Mind as when Mind is conscious of its own power of Memory, Memory, the faculty arises. In the second chapter of the second book He argues that Maya, Prakriti and Shakti are the same power functioning differently even as Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara are the same. The central theme of the chapter on Maya is God is the essential static truth and the universe is the active ordered truth. It is Maya that brings about this change. This is act of creation. If Maya is the consciousness that does this Supermind is the plane in which it is done. Hence, He radically departs from the tradition that says the world is created by Mind and lays down that it is the Supermind the creator. HE adds that Supermind does so by the Real-Idea, a vibration of the Self-Conscious Being.

In the chapter of Supermind He explains neither the Unitarian Sachchidananda nor the ignorant dividing Mind could have created the universe. From the Vedic clues of Vast, Comprehensive, Truth-Consciousness Sri Aurobindo borrows the term Supermind from Satyam, ritam, bhrat. To Him Supermind is the nature of Sachchidananda, or the objective state of Sachchidananda. His own explanation is creation has become possible when the One has chosen to objectify itself. If Sat, Chit, Ananda are the subjective states, their corresponding objective states are Satyam, Jnanam, Anandam. Later it is explained that Mind is born when the Supermind splits into the Timeless comprehensive supermind and the apprehensive supermind in Time. The latter is called prajna in Sanskrit. Mind is an instrument of division. It is born out of the initial division. Mind divides to create separation, to separate the part from the whole. Supermind is born when Sachchidananda objectifies i.e. divides itself into subjective and objective parts. Supermind too divides, but in fact it actually differentiates without division. The One Self-Conscious Being, Sat is thus made into the three of its aspects Sat, Chit, Ananda. He says they are triune, not three. Starting from Maya and ending in the Divine Soul, in these 5 chapters Sri Aurobindo delineates the Process of Creation. He is the one who has done it. The various stages, processes, faculties of creation are as follows.

1)         Creation was made possible by the One objectifying itself or by its deciding to do so. It was by Self-conception, not compelled by any outside agency as there is nothing outside the One, nor can it be compelled.

2)         The One Reality is met by Man in three aspects, Atma, Purusha, Ishwara. Their corresponding powers are Maya, Prakriti and Shakti. In fact all these six are one. Maya is conceptively creative, Purusha is dynamically executive while Ishwara is both-conceptively creative and dynamically executive.

3)         Supermind is the nature of Sachchidananda or the objective status of Sachchidananda.

4)         As the planes of Time and Space are needed to uphold a progressive universe in involution and evolution the Spirit creates Time and Space.

5)         Time is the subjective state of Spirit and Space is the objective state of Spirit while Spirit itself is the subjective state of Existence and Truth is its objective state. He explains it as Time is the Spirit looking at itself and its movements and space is what holds the forms created by Time.

6)         The essential ACT of creation is One becoming the Many. It is done by the power of differentiation of the Supermind.

7)         The lower triplicity of Mind, Life and Matter are created by the apprehending Supermind placing before the comprehending Supermind its own works. It does so in ignorance which is a self-limitation of knowledge.

8)         The One that Self-conceives to become the Many by the power of Self-limitation makes each of the Many Self-conscious and makes it look up to the One. The Self-conscious Many are different psychological centres that relate to the one from their own universe.

9)         It is by a third power of self-absorption consciousness becomes the opposite Superconscient and Inconscient. We live in the world of inconscient energy which evolves to reach the Superconscience.

In the chapter of The Supreme Truth consciousness, after explaining the process of creation in the fields of Time and Space, HE speaks of the unequal concentration of Consciousness of the Knower, the Knowledge and the Known. Next is the three poises of Supermind viz God, Jivatma, Ego, each supporting the evolution in knowledge and ignorance. The Divine Soul, is God in the ascent. It dwells in Sachchidananda, but Man emerging out of ego, seeing all in himself and himself in all, proceeds to see that all are in God and God is in all, rises to it. It is followed by the Chapter on Mind and Supermind. We already described the origin of Mind. It has the capacity to see the two parts of the whole alternately, not simultaneously like the Supermind. But Mind is capable of not exercising that faculty to see the two parts alternately and confine itself to seeing one side. Here begins the Ignorance. It can identify itself with its works and thus forget its origin is Supermind. By degrees the Mind can lose itself in the life and finally in the body when its Ignorance saturates. There is no Avidya in Mind but in can choose to acquire it.

In the four chapters on Life, Sri Aurobindo explains how life is created, how it functions and how it will survive even the dissolution of the universe. Life is a plane of energy created by the knowledge of Mind working on its own will. Its main function is to carry to the Mind the sensation of the body so that it may be changed into Thought. And that thought comes back to body to guide its action. The next is a chapter on Death, Desire, and Incapacity. To Sri Aurobindo death makes life immortal. Death itself is not a cessation of life but only a reversal of direction as after death an active decomposition sets in. Though the individual body perishes body itself remains always, making it immortal. Next is Ascent of Life. Life ascends to love by the psychic principle of growing by giving. The last chapter on Life is The Problem of Life.  At the plane of life consciousness and Force are separated. The problem of life is to elevate them to Supermind where they can unite. The chapter on Psychic is called the Double Soul of Man. Everything in the being of Man has two status as the gross body and subtle body. The soul of Man too divides as the desire soul and the Psychic.

There are two chapters on Matter. The second is known as the knot of Matter. In the first chapter Matter is described as Sachchidananda. The Being extends itself into the universe as substance. Cosmic Mind and Cosmic life in their atomic division and aggregation divide and aggregate the spiritual substance into material substance or Matter. Ignorance, inertia and division are the three forces that prevent Matter to evolve into Sachchidananda, says the chapter on Knot of Matter. The universe exists in eight planes - Sat, Chit, Ananda, Supermind, Mind, Life, Psychic and Matter. All these planes are of the same substance which enables the evolution to take Matter back to Sat. The tradition speaks of seven planes but permits 8 or 10 even 12. Sri Aurobindo chooses 8 and explains the 4 about reverse into the 4 below. The last chapter of the first book - the 28th - is entitled as Supermind, Mind and Overmind Maya. A fuller description of the Overmind and the Spiritual mental range of the Higher Mind, the illumined Mind, the intuitive Mind and Overmind is given here. It is here Sri Aurobindo lays down emphatically that the advent of Supermind is not only possible, but inevitable. When Swami Vivekananda showed Him the Supermind in jail, he did not tell him how to reach it. He had the Supramental vision of Narayana dharsan where there is no evil. Krishna's Viswarupa disclosed both sides. He says it took 10 years for Him to discover the path to Supermind. It is in this chapter HE mentions that occult link that is the secret of His yoga. In seeking moksha one detaches himself from the embodied being to reach the Superconscient. It is done by concentration. Here concentration is of no use. Consecration is called for. It takes me from the surface mind to the subliminal mind. It is universal. Also it is the meeting place of the subconscient and the superconscient. Reaching there one ascends to Supermind through the stair of the spiritual mental range, at each stage evolving the corresponding psychic part.  

In the first book we saw the Omnipresent Reality becoming the universe ending in Matter. That completed involution. The second book is 'Knowledge and Ignorance-- Spiritual Evolution' i.e. Ignorance evolves into knowledge as a part of spiritual evolution. When the spirit in the ignorance evolves it becomes knowledge. What is then spiritual evolution? The Spirit originally resides in Timelessness. Now it evolves into simultaneous integrality of Time and Timelessness. The unmanifest Spirit manifests in Time and moves from these to the plane of Simultaneous Time.

This process is further divided into ignorance becoming Knowledge and Knowledge changing into integral knowledge. Each of these parts has 14 chapters in it. The first 14 chapters are designed as follows:

1)         Precise understanding of the determinant of the cosmic objects.

2)         Comprehensive understanding of the determinant in terms of Being, Becoming, Form, Force & Time.

3)         The structure of the Being in its three statuses.

4)         The totality that includes the negative aspects of life.

5, 6)     Shankara's illusion is really ignorance.

7, 8)     The process of creation of ego, the role of Memory in connecting the past and the present.

9,10,    The nature of ignorance, its limits and its origin.


12)       Four levels of knowledge and that part of knowledge that serves as the basis of ignorance.

13)       Perfection of ignorance as a cosmic product more valuable than knowledge.

14)       The various forms of ignorance - error, mistake, wrong, falsehood, evil.

Chapter 1

We see million things in life and see not who determined them to be what they are. So, they are indeterminates to us. The analysis of the chapter ends revealing they are determined by the Supermind - Cosmic Determinants, - which does the work of the Absolute, the Indeterminable.

Chapter 2

The six aspects of that Indeterminable Absolute are one and the same in the simultaneous intgrality of Time is explained here by an analysis of form, personal, identical, silence, manifest, mutability.

Chapter 3

The individual is not the ego, but the Purusha which is really the world being and the transcendental Self. This chapter says that that Absolute is at last the individual or the ego we are now.

Chapter 4

The whole world, East as well as West, is seeking heaven which is only one part, the higher part. It is Sri Aurobindo who asks us to seek the whole. In this chapter HE tells us the undivine is the Divine.

Chapter 5 & 6

These two chapters will be of paramount interest to philosophic minds, especially Mayavadins. It is an intellectual treat to read them. In both the chapters HE makes it profoundly clear that what Shankara described as illusion is really ignorance.

Chapter 7

Sri Aurobindo has not treated ignorance in the 28 chapters of this BOOK. Even when HE was faced with the necessity to describe ignorance in chapter 28, HE puts it off offering a brief definition. In all mental work one major determinant will be the definitions. In this yoga the theory can be explained as Freedom or Light or Love or even Silence, but HE chooses the traditional path of knowledge and ignorance. Hence the importance of the definition. Elsewhere HE tells us though indirectly how Vedas and Upanishads have gone wrong even in the beginning because of their partial definitions. This chapter describes ignorance as a limitation of knowledge and goes on to say even Knowledge is a kind of ignorance.

Chapters 8 & 9

Both are on Memory. Here the creation of Ego and its principle are spoken of. The Self-Conscious being desiring to experience itself in the Cosmic Consciousness became the Transcendent Self and moved into cosmos as Cosmic divine. That is in the higher consciousness. Ego is born when the Self tries to experience itself in self-consciousness of ignorance.

Chapter 10

Ignorance is described in 7 levels but knowledge is at 4 levels.

Chapter 11

The eight planes of existence - Sat, Chit, Ananda, Supermind, Mind, Life, Matter - are covered by 7 ignorances. The very last practical ignorance will dissolve only when the first original ignorance disappears.

Chapter 12

The Origin of ignorance is Mind forgetting its origin of Supermind.

Chapter 13

Here He says ignorance is a great product of cosmos than knowledge. The perfection of ignorance necessary for the goal is achieved on the surface mind.

Chapter 14

The simple contrary becoming a complex perversity is evil. It is created out of division. Outgrowing division, outgrows evil.

Part II

Chapter 15

With the dissolution of ego ignorance became knowledge. But by itself it is not spirit while we are looking for the evolution of Spirit. The embodied being is essentially made of Spirit as everything in creation is made of Spirit. There is nothing else. But this Spirit does not exist as pure spirit everywhere. We find it as Mind with the Spirit as potential. In other parts of our being life and body are uppermost with the higher members in potential as the parent is buried in the child. Should the Spirit evolve it moves from the Timeless plane to the Simultaneous integrality of Time. That evolution calls for Integral Knowledge. The 14 chapters in this part is utterly new to the spiritual tradition of the world and unique to Sri Aurobindo.

Chapter 16

That knowledge needs to be expressed in life and for that purpose Life must be synthetic.

Chapter 17

In the first book HE spoke of uniting the subconscient and the Superconscient. What was initiated in ignorance is continued here in knowledge.

Chapter 18

Not only are they to be united, but all that is so united must be elevated to the highest plane of transcendence in life, here on earth.

Chapter 19

To achieve it the sevenfold ignorance must become seven fold knowledge.

Chapter 20, 21, 22

This yoga dispenses with rebirth. Hence its philosophy, its worlds and its basis power karma are explained.

Chapter 23

One whose body evolves along with his spirit has evolved into MAN.

Chapter 24

The evolved Man becomes the spiritual man if he can help others.

Chapter 25

It is done by 3 transformations.

Chapter 26

Rising to Supermind still leaves a human residue.

Chapter 27

The ages become a trice if the outer becomes the inner.

Chapter 28

This can only be done by transformation and surrender.


4th paragraph - line 1 and 2

4th paragraph - line 1 and 2 - words spacing

8th point - line 3 - centers

Under Chapter 1 - First paragraph - line2 - indeterminate

Under Chapter 2 - First paragraph - line2 - integrality

Under Chapter 15 - First paragraph - line 7 - in this part are uttlery

story | by Dr. Radut