The Divine Lila

The Divine Lila – Sri Aurobindo

The following excerpt was taken from: A Practical Guide to Integral Yoga, p 20-23, by Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press: Seventh edition, 1998.


We play at being bound, we are not really bound. We can be free when God wills; for He, our Supreme Self, is the master of the game, and without His Grace and permission no soul can leave the game.

The command is now. God always keeps for himself a chosen country in which the higher knowledge is through all chances and dangers, by the few or the many, continually preserved, and for the present, in this caturyuga at least, that country is India. Whenever He chooses to take the full pleasure of ignorance, of the dualities, of strife and wrath and tears and weakness and selfishness, the tamasic and rajasic pleasures, of the play of the Kali in short, He dims the knowledge in India and puts her down into weakness and degradation so that she may retire into herself and not interfere with this movement of His lila. When he wants to rise up from the mud and Narayapa in man to become once again mighty and wise and blissful, then He once more pours out the knowledge on India and raises her up so that she may give the knowledge with its necessary consequences of might, wisdom and bliss to the whole world. When there is the contracted movement of knowledge, the Yogins in India withdraw from the world and practise Yoga for their own liberation and delight or for the liberation of a few students; but when the movement of knowledge again expands and the soul of India expands with it, they come forth once more and work in the world and for the world. Yogins like Janaka, Ajatshatru and Kartavirya once more sit on the thrones of the world and govern the nations.

God’s lila in man moves always in a circle, from Satyayuga to Kaliyuga and through Kaliyuga to the Satyayuga, from the age of gold to the age of iron and back again through the iron to the gold…. But the Kaliyuga is not merely evil; in it the necessary conditions are progressively built up for a new Satyayuga, another harmony, a more advanced perfection.

It is only India that can discover the harmony, because it is only by a change – not a mere readjustment – of man’s present nature that it can be developed, and such a change is not possible except by Yoga. The nature of man and of things is at present a discord, a harmony that has gone out of tune. The whole heart and action and mind of man must be changed, but from within, not from without, not by political and social institutions, not even by creeds and philosophies, but by realisation of God in ourselves and the world and a remoulding of life by that realisation. This can only be effected by Purna-Yoga, a Yoga devoted to the fulfilment of the divine humanity in ourselves and others.

For this Purna-Yoga, the surrender must be complete. Nothing must be reserved, no desire, no demand, no opinion, no idea that this must be, that cannot be, that this should be and that should not be; – all must be given.

To those who demand from Him, God gives what they demand, but to those who give themselves and demand nothing, He gives everything that they might otherwise have asked or needed and in addition He gives Himself and the spontaneous boons of His love.

You must put aside what you want and wish to know what God wants; distrust what your heart, your passions or your habitual opinions prefer to hold as right and necessary…. The power that governs the world is at least as wise as you and it is not absolutely necessary that you should be consulted or indulged in its management; God is seeing to it.

An almighty love and wisdom are at work for your uplifting. Therefore never be troubled by the time that is being taken, even if it seems very long, but when imperfections and obstructions arise, be apramatta, dhira, have the utsaha, and leave God to do the rest. Time is necessary. It is a tremendous work that is being done in you, the alteration of your whole human nature into a divine nature, the crowding of centuries of evolution into a few years. You ought not to grudge the time.

The goal marked out for us and the call upon us is to grow into the image of God, to dwell in Him and with Him and be a channel of His joy and might and an instrument of His works. Purified from all that is asubha, transfigured in soul by His touch we have to act in the world as dynamos of that divine electricity and send it thrilling and radiating through mankind, so that wherever one of us stands, hundreds around may become full of His light and force, full of God and full of ananda.

Churches, orders, theologies, philosophies have failed to save mankind because they have busied themselves with intellectual creeds, dogmas, rights and institutions, with acara, suddhi and darsana, as if these could save mankind, and have neglected the one thing needful, the power and purification of the soul.

The reason for which the Avatars descend is to raise up man again and again, developing in him a higher and ever higher humanity, a greater and yet greater development of divine being, bringing more and more of heaven again and again upon the earth until our toil is done, our work accomplished and Sachchidananda fulfilled in all even here, even in this material universe.

Sri Aurobindo

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