This book breaks serious new ground in Sri Aurobindo studies. The Record of Yoga is kind of like the Finnegan’s Wake of 20th Century spiritual writing. That is “the Wake” is a tremendous achievement and one of the most important literary works of the 20th century but there is no way to understand it without an interpretive key. The same holds true for the Record of Yoga which is one of the most important spiritual diaries written in the past century.
Not only has the author done an enormous service by providing keys to decode the Record of Yoga that detail Sri Aurobindo’s yogic practice that he defines in his diaries known as the Record of Yoga but, he does this by making it accessible by referencing Sri Aurobindo’s other major works such as The Synthesis of Yoga and The Life Divine. For example:
” Comparing the scheme outlined in the Record of Yoga with The Synthesis of Yoga we find that first three and the last of the quartets of the Record (samata, sakti, vijana, siddhi) are elaborated in the section of the Yoga of Self Perfection in The Synthesis of Yoga.”
Perhaps more importantly the author does not write to simply address followers of Sri Aurobindo but has done an even greater service by attempting to make the Record available to a wider audience by drawing comparisons with the work of several of the most renown philosophers of the late 20th Century including Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and especially Gilles Deleuze who figures most prominently in his analysis of the Record of Yoga.
Contemporary philosophy or theory is now in a post-metaphysical stage given the myriad of problems associated with ideologies that have been spun from worn out metaphysical creeds throughout the 20th century. It is a stroke of genius to analyze Sri Aurobindo’s yoga by employing the language of Gilles Deleuze because of its relevance to contemporary thought. Given the fact that The Record of Yoga and Sri Aurobindo’s many other important texts were written close to 1o0 years ago and thus are cloaked in the language of metaphysical idealism, that although appropriate for the times, now represent a discourse largely removed from the necessities of our Post-Metaphysical Age, Banerji has performed an invaluable service for contemporary scholars, theologians as well as followers of integral yoga. Because of the seemingly incommensurable discursive gap between Aurobindo and Deleuze one would never gleam the similarities if someone as skilled as Banerji has not attempted his comparison.
Although Gilles Deleuze was a materialist philosopher his materialist outlook reconciles well with an immanent metaphysics that has many parallels in the yoga of Sri Aurobindo, especially given Aurobindo’s insistence on the transformation of the material world rather than the transcendence of it.
In fact the work will be useful for Deleuze scholars who may uncover a non-reductive praxis for clearing new lines of flight that consciousness may follow toward the unlimited finitude of the Plane of Immanence
The book is dedicated to Richard Hartz who completed the Herculean task of making the diaries of Sri Aurobindo available for the first time and who served as an important guide to the text for Banerji. It is Banerji’s genius however, to have offered an interpretation of the text that both renews Sri Aurobindo’s relevance for 21st century intellectual culture and also provides the follower of Aurobindo’s yoga with an exegesis of the Record of Yoga that enables them to comprehend this extremely important text.
From the Book:
Groomed in a modern academic tradition and post-Enlightenment ideals of creative freedom and social critique, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) turned his attention to yoga and the limits of consciousness in its ability to relate to and transform nature. In the process, he documented scrupulously his experiments and experiences based on a synergistic existential framework of practice.
Debashish Banerji correlates the approach to yoga Sri Aurobindo took in his diaries with his later writings, to derive a description of human subjectivity and its powers. Banerji constellates Sri Aurobindo’s approach with transpersonal psychology and contemporary lineages of phenomenology and ontology, to develop a transformative yoga psychology redefining the boundaries and possibilities of the human and opening up lines of self-practice towards a wholeness of being and becoming.
– From the `Foreword’ of
Prof. Christopher Key Chapple
Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, (USA)
An Incalculabe Yoga — The Seven Quartets — Revolutionary Impulse — Psychology and its Alter-disciplines — Yoga Psychology and the Integral Movement — Experimental Psychologies — Post-metaphysical Philosophies — Postmodernism — The Deleuzian Century — Interlocutors — Objectives1. Integral Yoga Psychology and the Quartet of PerfectionContemporary Social Relevance — The Divine Life: Integral Being and Becoming — The Seven Quartets — The Quartet of Perfection or of Yoga — The Two Traditions — Shuddhi, the Starting Point — Yoga Philosophy: Vedanta — Samkhya — The Instrument and the Cause, Karana and Karana — Shuddhi or Purification — Purification of the Life energy (Prana-shuddhi) — The Mental Instrument — Mukti or Liberation — Bhukti or Enjoyment2. The Quartet of Peace The Progression of Equality — Equality and the Purusha — The Passive Disciplines of Equality — Titiksha — Udasinata: Being Seated Above — Nati — Active Disciplines of Equality — Rasa — Bhoga — Transforming Pain to Bliss — Priti — Ananda — Shanti — Sukham — Hasya3. The Quartet of Power
A Different Relation between Soul and Nature — Gendered Considerations — Relationship with the Divine Mother — Rooted Traditions — The Siddhis of the Shakti Catushtaya — Viryam: Soul Force and the Fourfold — Personality — The Soul Force of Knowledge — The Soul Force of Power — The Soul Force of Harmonious Interchange — The Soul Force of Loving Service — Shakti or Divine Power — Embodying the Divine Shakti — Faith and the Divine Shakti
4. The Quartet of Knowledge
Three Forms of Knowledge: Adhibhautika, Adhidaivika, Adhyatmika — Four Forms of Knowledge in Supermind: Vijnana, Prajnana, Samjnana, Ajnana — The Intuitive Mind — The Goals of the Quartet of Knowledge — Cognitive Knowledge: Jnana of Thought — Cognition: The Lower Doublet — Drishti and Shruti: The Higher — Doublet of Cognition — Knowledge of Time — Bridging Time and Eternity — Purification of the Sense Mind – Other Means Towards Trikaladrishti — Siddhis: Justification, Dangers and Use — The Eight Occult — Powers (Ashta-siddhi) — The Powers of Knowledge — The Powers of Will — The Mother’s Yoga of the Cells — Powers of Being — Ontological Identity with the States of Brahman
5. The Quartet of the Body
Body and Spirit — Freedom from Disease — Awakened Body Consciousness — Stages to Arogya — Physical Immortality — Supermind and the Mind of the Cells — The Mystic Body and Physical Transformation — Freedom from Laws of Matter — The Physical Pranas — Stages of Utthapana — Beauty — Bliss
6. The Quartet of Being
Non-Dual Seeing and the Vision of Reality — Mind and The Problem of Duality — An Evolutionary Being-in-Becoming — The One and the Infinite — The Passive Brahman — The Active Brahman — Extending the Oneness — Knowledge — Correspondences — Bliss, Impersonal and Personal — Transcendental Empiricism
7. The Quartet of Action
Personal Gods and an Integral Karma-Yoga — Krishna — Kali — Purusha and Prakriti — Krishna-Kali and the Delight of Becoming — Work — Choice of Work — Stages Towards True Choice — Surrender to the Divine Shakti — Kama — Identity in Difference
8. Attitudes of Self-Discipline
Attitudes of Self-Discipline — Resolution and Sincerity — Aspiration — Constant Remembrance — Equality — Purification — Replacements — Faith — Quiet Mind and the Discipline of Speech — Surrender — The Triple Dasyam
9. The Conditions of Being and Knowledge
Intuition and Identity — Purusha — Integral Realisation of Brahman — Plurality of Life — Bliss as Origin: Impersonal and Personal — The Divine Master — Evidence of the Senses — The Intuitive Faculties — Purification of the Mental Instrument
10. Power and Enjoyment
The Goals of Magic — Karma and the Law of Oneness — Delight of Action — The Four Cosmic Powers — Personal Law of Becoming — Adesha and Karma for Sri Aurobindo — Karma and the Four Shaktis — Capacities of Remote Knowledge and Power — Empiricism of the Records — Bliss — Krishna-Darshana — Samata