Dilip Kumar Roy - Born on 22nd January 1897, in a rich and aristocratic Brahmin family of Bengal, was considered a cultural leader of the artistic renaissance in India during the early twentieth century. Educated in Cambridge, England (for mathematics Tirpos) Sri Roy with the encouragement of Rabindranath Tagore and Romain Roland, changed over to the study of Western Classical music to enrich his own heritage of Indian music. A friend also of Mahatma Gandhi, Bertrand Russel, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and very close disciple of Sri Aurobindo, who called him a 'born yogi’, and his "son, friend and part of his existence", Sri Roy was an accomplished musician, composer and a litterateur par excellence. He has written about 125 books in Bengali and 25 books in English. But his grande passion has always been Sri Ramakrishna's dictum: "To realize God is the aim of human life."
Dilip Kumar Roy passed away on January 6, 1980 at the age of 83.
Indira Devi - Born on 26th March 1920, to wealth and luxury, in Punjab, Indira Devi was dogged from her infancy, by a deep, unaccountable other worldliness - like a devouring flame - which increased with her age, until she felt compelled to dedicate herself exclusively to spiritual life and so accepted Sri Dilip Kumar Roy as her spiritual father. Soon after she got initiation from her Guru she started going into 'Bhav Samadhi' and a new vista of spiritual world was opened before her eyes. Under the aegis of her Guru, Sri Roy, she developed into a remarkable poet in a short span of time. Besides composing beautiful English and Urdu devotional songs, she began to hear Bhajans from the legendary saint Meera Bai in her Samadhi. Sri Aurobindo authenticated this experience of Smt. Indira Devi as genuine. A complete collection of her compositions are published in two volumes titled "Indiranjali Vol. I and Indiranjali Vol.II." These established her as one of the foremost composers of mystic poems in Hindi. She was also a classical devotional dancer and accompanied Sri Roy during their world tour as cultural ambassadors in 1953.
Indira Devi passed away on 31st December 1997 at the age of 77.
It is rather paradoxical-and rather difficult, too-for a professor of philosophy, especially a professor of Western philosophy, to be writing a Foreword for this volume. Philosophy and' philosophers, reason (their chief tool and stock in trade), the West in general, and, in some instances, even the major religion of the West, Christianity, are all taken to task seriously in these pages. It would truly be a "miracle" if such a person could do justice to the work at hand.
Mr. Roy is steeped in the knowledge of the West and the wisdom of the East. He is conscious of the more critical and analytical attitudes of the West, but he is also a spiritually dedicated man. Brilliant of mind, deeply sensitive aesthetically, and profoundly religious, he presents us with a series of narrations which combine all of these approaches- as well as genuine realism and a sense of humour. All of these, combined, have produced an account which gives much room for thought and, most of all, an elevated and noble view of and feeling for the heights of spirituality, which he knows so well personally, and which he portrays with remarkable feeling.
Sometimes, a few Western colloquialisms may appear to be somewhat inappropriate and pedestrian in such a profoundly spiritual work, but this style may be deliberate. It reveals both that the author is not above his readers and also that the experiences he is writing about are, as it were, down to earth, available to everyone-provided, of course, one is prepared and willing to dedicate himself entirely to God. At one place it is said: "Your saints are so natural," and the language seems to express this naturalness.
Mr. Roy's purpose, of course, is to show that miracles are not out of date, that they do still happen. And, unless we approach his work with stubborn skepticism-about which more later-he succeeds convincingly. The reader is convinced that miracles are real and genuine and true, that they are a sure sign or "proof’ of a highest spiritual reality and of spiritual realization, and, further, that miracles can serve the high purpose of leading us to that highest realm, if we will but understand and receive their message.
Miracles are the subject of this narration, but we are pointedly and repeatedly reminded that there are "miracles and miracles." The question has to do, not with their existence or reality, but with their significance and their effect upon us. Merely supernatural powers and deeds are one thing: genuine miracles are quite another. This book has nothing to do with or to say for occultism as such, but the actuality of significant miracles and their overwhelming power for good are portrayed with penetrating insight and personal warmth-and the over-all result is unmistakable.
The author does not tell us that the road to reality and truth is an easy one. Its difficulties are portrayed as almost insurmountable. Spiritual achievement is available only to the strong in heart, the sincere of mind, and those of genuine spiritual aspiration and dedication, come what may. Suffering and evil and hardships come to us all, we learn, even to saintly men. They are inevitable, but they are not evil in their essence. They are the almost indispensable prerequisite for spiritual progress. They open our eyes to the utter inadequacy of any desire except that for communion or unity with the divine.
Under the thought-provoking title, Miracles Do Still Happen Sri Dilip Kumar Roy has produced a rendering in English of his Bengali novel Aghaton Ajo Ghate. It is, however, not solely a novel though it is full of subtle characterisation and of arresting incidents. Such incidents are not of the type to be found in the usual romance or novel of adventure. It may be justly described as the story of a quest with its pursuit, failures, vicissitudes and lastly, fulfillment.
What are miracles? This question was put and answered several centuries ago by St. Augustine and his paradoxical but correct solution was: 'Credo quia impossible.' (I believe because it is impossible). St. Augustine thereby averred that, in the last analysis, belief rests not on what is called scientific demonstration but on faith. The same idea, in another form, was conveyed in the Vedic dictum:
Astiti vruvatonyatro katham tad upalabhyate
(excepting by response to one who asserts a proposition, how is knowledge to be attained?) This novel, in effect, contains an account of a series of happenings and events both external and psychological. The doubter or the cynic can always deal with such narrations by stating that what has been recounted is either an illusion or auto-hypnotism or, at worst, a deception. The answer, of course, is that throughout the ages-and in the history of deep thinking Seers as well as of those rare individuals to whom revelations have been vouchsafed reaching beyond the limits of intellectual processes-there have been a continuous assertion and record of miracles that have happened.
Citing the Kathopanishad, the author commences his story with the enunciation that the Oversoul has to be attained not by disputation nor by the exercise of intellectual talent but only by those who are the chosen recipients of the quintessential Truth. On this basis and with the background of his literary, artistic and musical training, Sri Dilip Kumar Roy adverts to his long, strenuous and loving apprenticeship to the great Yogi, Sri Aurobindo, to his varied reactions of his contacts with his Guru and to his ultimate attainment of repose in his personality and message. In his own words :
"I aspire, in a steadfast faith, to slip my moorings And row across to the Shoreless Formless Vast And then return to the painted shore of life To see, accost and touch thee once again In the essence of all that is."
In his preface to this novel, the author poses and answers the question whether the things which are termed "miracles" that have been seen and experienced should be communicated or kept to oneself. He follows Sri Aurobindo who wrote that "experiences that used once to be enjoyed by a privileged handful, are progressively to come within the reach of all. That is the demand of the Yugadharma". Sri Aurobindo has stated that miracles are the production of effects in the physical world that occur by seizing on the possibilities of cosmic power, cosmic being and energy. In the last chapter of this novel, when dealing with the great Yogi, Anandagiri, the author explains that only those miracles which are wrought by Divine Grace to enlighten or transform the nature of the aspirant are worthy of attention and he makes a distinction between the so-called occult phenomena and divine miracles-the former being the result of specific disciplines, and the latter representing the efflorescence of Grace. The story that unfolds itself in these pages is the account of the process and means by which an essentially intellectual artist comes to attain the plane of mystic experience. The word 'experience' is, in this connection, of cardinal importance. All Indian scriptures hold that no truth, secular or spiritual, can be attained, maintained or realised save by one's own personal experience. And so, in page after page of this novel we are given as data authentic episodes in the lives of persons like Asit and his daughter-disciple, Tapati, dwellers in the Yoga Ashrama in Dumel, Kashmir. We are confronted with the spectacle of the effects of faith of an essential bhakti conquering the doubts and surmounting the despairs of the intellectual truth seeker. The story of Asit's unexpected invitation to San Francisco after his Guru's death happens to be the first of a series of narratives which are presented in this volume. It is a record of devotion expressed through prayer and aspiration as well as through dialogues and discussions with a devout Christian postulant, Barbara, who approaches Eastern ideas with an enquiring though alien outlook. We are shown also the methods and incidents whereby these doubts are dispelled by actual accounts of manifestations that answer intense devotion. The search for a Guru and the transformation of personal character by spiritual contacts and visions form the bulk of the varied mystical experiences. In veiled autobiographical sketches, the author goes on describing how he came in contact with various types of worldly and unworldly persons and relates how some atheists were converted into devotees through sudden spiritual experiences in their lives. Dealing with a worldly saint he says: "He may have been a stranger to true faith but when all is said and done, is not the whole problem of faith rather baffling?" St. Paul defines faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The sudden smile manifested on the face of an image of Sri Krishna was the direct cause of a total revolution in an essentially sceptic mind. All this may seem almost trivial, but the significance of miracles is, very often, lost on those who are not spiritually perceptive. The story of Ramdin and Shyam Thakur contains this comment.
Indian has little to fear so long as her teeming millions retain this simple faith in holy things. In the words of my great Guru, we make too much of our so-called intelligentsia’s skepticism and irreverence. For the soul of India is sustained not by the feeble no of these feckless defectors who have gone ashtray, but by the yes of our masses whose humble heart still loyal to her ageless wisdom”.
Similarly, the story of the psychological conversion of the step-mother should be regarded as typical of the author's outlook. This story ends with the statement: "The virago was transformed overnight into a devotee and insisted on making over everything to Mandira. Their temple-home is now called Radhasram where more than a hundred orphan girls live dedicated lives, served by Mandira and her mother and presided over by Shyam Thakur in person." One more story may be cited which commences with Barbara's statement: "Such faith crowned by bhakti has long ceased to be living in our milieu." This story illustrates by an example the teaching underlying this novel. Citing the life-story of the Pandavas, the author remarks: "Those who were Krishna's dearest devotees on earth were visited by calamity after calamity till nearly all their friends were killed off in war. Whoever, called by His Love- flute, has loved Him most had to descend into hell's abyss in order to climb Love's zenith."
Towards the end of this volume occurs the story of the young man whose father insisted on a marriage for which he was not prepared. The youth's Guru refutes, in effect, his father in the following words: "A true spiritual aspirant can have no quarrel with the householder since here at least they are agreed that none can be true to himself unless he answers the highest call he has heard at any given stage of his evolution, remaining deaf to all other-lesser-calls. If you but bear this in mind you won't find it in you to let down your luminous soul by preferring the lead of your purblind ego." The author concludes with an account of certain specific manifestations resulting from deep concentration and meditation. The master mystic, Ananda Giri says approvingly.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say: "The things I had been told about Yoga were different from what I saw and experienced personally when I started practising it." In the present novel I have tried my best to lay stress on things that have been seen and experienced-in many instances, by more than one or two aspirants.
There are some Yogis who say that such first-hand accounts and experiences should not be made public. There are others who hold, on the contrary, that not only should such intimate, divine experiences be made available for whosoever seeks them, but the day is at hand when it will be no longer possible for deep spiritual experiences about the Divine Reality to be withheld any longer from humanity- when the Christ's prophecy shall be fulfilled; "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known ... nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest". Sri Aurobindo also wrote once that experiences that used once to be enjoyed only by a privileged handful are going now, progressively, to come within the reach of all-for that is the demand of the Yugadharma- Zeitgeist-of today. Also in a great poem he wrote rapturously about his own glorious vision of that day of days when-so he prophesied, through a Mahatma Kuthumi-all shall be revealed and restored to humanity:
"I gather my knowledge here,
Then to my human frame awhile descend
And walk mid men, choosing my instruments,
Testing, rejecting and confirming souls-
Vessels of the Spirit; for the golden age
In Kali comes, the iron lined with gold"-
When the veil shall be rent and
"The Yoga shall be given back to men,
The sects shall cease, the grim debates die out
And atheism perish from the Earth,
Blasted with knowledge, love and brotherhood
And wisdom repossess Sri Krishna's world."
I have given above the two predictions for the simple reason that saints and sages-especially in India-have often enough been a little too secretive. Which is not to say, however, that Yogis of a delightfully expansive nature are not to be met with at all in our land. It is because they exist that Sri Ramakrishna was wont to illustrate the difference between the two types by a happy analogy. "The first, the reserved type," he said "may be compared to a wayfarer who discovers a tree bearing sweet mangoes, plucks and eats his fill, but holds his peace. The second-the tell-tale type may be likened to a man who, having discovered the same tree, jubilantly exhorts everybody to run run run there and taste the luscious fruit!" Fortunately, for the likes of us, Sri Ramakrishna himself belonged to this latter type. As I have worshipped him all my life, I make bold-taking a leaf out of his book-to tell people' what I have seen and known to be true through my own humble experiences as well as those of some of my intimate friends whose truthfulness and integrity of character cannot be questioned. In other words, I have tried, to the best of my ability to record faithfully such authentic experiences as must seem 'miraculous' to the average seeker. Anent 'miracle', I accept, substantially, the commonsense definition formulated by the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Anything wonderful beyond human power and deviating from the common action of nature, a supernatural event". Thereafter the writer goes on to add that the Christian Church once held "that on the one hand miracles involved an interference with the forces and the suspension of the laws of nature and that, on the other hand, as this could be effected only by divine power, they served as credentials of a divine revelation". This view, however, is untenable; great Yogis and messiahs in India have known, from time immemorial, that all miracles are not effected by divine power because (as I have pointed out in the present novel) miracles can be brought off by divers agencies for divers purposes. The great Yogi Sri Aurobindo-who preferred the word 'supernatural' to 'miraculous'-gave a sound definition of miracles in general in his Life Divine when he wrote in chapter XXIII:
"What seems to us supernatural is, in fact, either a spontaneous irruption of the phenomenon of other-Nature into physical Nature, or in the words of the occultist, a possession of the knowledge and power of the higher order or grades of cosmic Bring and Energy and the directions of their forces and processes towards the production of effects in the physical world by seizing on possibilities of inter-connection and means for a material effectuality”.
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