Thought, the Paraclete is a mystic poem which opens up a vision or revelation of an ascent through spiritual planes. It may lend itself to a descriptive interpretation or help the emergence of a general idea but what is really important in it is the vision, what one can apprehend through intuitive perception rather than through logical explanation. If poetry has its origin in a spiritual experience, it has to be perceived only intuitively.
As Dr. Iyengar has observed, the central idea of the poem is the transformation of the self brought about as a result of the ascent of consciousness to the supramental level. This idea is suggested by the imagery and the music rather than explained in terms of logical argument. Dr. Iyengar identifies in the poem four separate “movements”. (Vide Dr. K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar Indian Writing in English pp. 167-68).
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Notwithstanding the view that this poem calls for an intuitive perception rather than logical explanation, the poem does lend itself to analyses at various levels. For instance, a close attention to the imagery, its movement and the colour scheme in the poem will help one kind of response.
image source: practicalcatholicjunto.org
The title of the poem: ‘Paraclete’ means ‘one who intercedes on behalf of another, an advocate, a defender”.
It is the title given to the Holy Ghost in (John XIV, 16, XVI 7) The Bible meaning that it is the mediator between the human and the divine. In Sri Aurobindonian metaphysics “thought” itself is such a mediator. Man is the ‘Mediator’ between Matter and Spirit and man is distinguished by his thought.
Thought: Thought in this poem has a very wide significance, for it stands not only for cognition but the faculty of perception which in Indian parlance is denoted by chit or consciousness. According to Aurobindo, consciousness becomes the medium as well as the mediator for the yogic evolution leading to the higher levels of Consciousness and Being. Consciousness as explained by Aurobindo in his Life Divine progresses from Mind to Supermind passing through four stages or levels, namely Highermind, Illumined mind, Intuition and Overmind.
1.1 Archangel: Principal or chief angel.
1.1-5 Thought is described as leaving behind earth consciousness and flying into the vasts of God passing over the seas of life and skies of the mystic mind — like an archangel flying in a dream.
1. 3 Green crests of the sea of life: the green colour symbolizes the vital forces and the light of emotions. The aspiring individual self struggles in the immensities of the spirit. Orange skies: Orange symbolizes a desire for a union with the divine, to have a touch with the higher consciousness. “The skies of the mystic mind” are therefore said to be orange in colour.
The human consciousness has its own limitations caught as it is in the mesh of ignorance and the mechanical laws of prakriti or nature.
Now this human consciousness makes an effort to make a mystic search for the higher realms of bliss. Since it cannot easily make it with the limitations of nature it makes an ascent by substituting super-nature for the old, ordinary nature.
11. 6-15……..Sleepless wide great glimmering. wings of mind………. Drew its vague heart-yearning with voices sweet: This second movement delineates the next stage in the upward progress of consciousness, which moves on from the Higher Mind to the Overmind crossing the Illumined Mind and Intuition.
11.6- 8 Sleepless wide… vanishing ends: These lines represent the first stage of this movement from the Higher mind to the Illumined Mind. The wings of wind, that is the soaring spiritual aspiration, carry the spirit which is on its quest, sleepless and restless’.
1. 7 Gold-red: Signifies the radiance of the supernature in the physical.
1.8 Space and Time’s mute vanishing ends: We have here the image of a wanderer who is relentlessly searching for the goal breaking even the vital limitations imposed by space and time.
The Higher Mind is “No longer of mingled light and obscurity of half-light but a large clarity of the Spirit.” (The Life Divine, p. 939)
This is so because as at every other stage of progress, there is a corresponding illumination from above which is activising the next stage of the progress. Now the limitations and obstacles posed by the lower nature on the scale of time and peace vanish.
ii. 8-13 The face lustered, pale-blue-lined summits of timeless being gleamed: The face of the soul is gleaming in the radiance like the face of a solitary hermit (Eremite) who dares to explore the unexplored and unchartered ways to enter the visionary realms. The illumined mind is no longer a mind of higher thought but a mind illumined by spiritual light. It is a realm in which “a play of lightnings of spiritual truth and power breaks from above into consciousness” (The Life Divine, p. 344)
Hipprogriff: A mythical animal, a fabulous monster consisting of horse with the head and wings of griffin: Like the unicorn or salamander it is always solitary. The word carries with it associations of brightness and splendour, for the sun who is the visible form of righteousness is believed to have taken the form of a horse to find his wife Samjna who had taken the shape of Asvini (mare) to escape him. Pale-blue in the mystic colour-scheme symbolises the light of higher knowledge. When this stage is reached in the illumined mind the world below becomes a blurred picture seen in a pale, mingled light and half-light. Seen from that vantage height, the world (Both physically and figuratively) becomes hazy and blurred or even dark. It seems like an abyss (1.12).
When Consciousness soars to higher realms, the vital consciousness left below becomes dark and almost vanished.
Failed: Fails to catch a glimpse of the world below.
11. 13-15 This shows the movement from the Illumined Mind to Intuition. The next stage is that from Intuition to Overmind. When the power of the thought (symbolised by halflight) “failed below” the light of Intuition pushes the journeying mind further up and consciousness is drawn to the higher levels through “voices sweet”. Even the vague aspirations or heart yearnings are now drawn upwards to the Illumined levels to the “sun-realms of supernal seeing” or the consciousness of the Divine.
Crimson-white mooned: Crimson-white signifies divine consciousness.
Pauseless bliss The descent of the Divine into the lower levels of consciousness is continuous. The Supermind acts on the Illumined Mind and this is again a downward movement which takes place indirectly through Intuition which in the words of Aurobindo is “the edge of a delegated and modified Supermind” (The Life Divine, p. 949).
11. 16-21 This is the third movement i.e. the journey of consciousness from Overmind to Supermind. Thought, the Paraclete, impelled by a hunger for realization makes a daring attempt to surprise the hitherto unexplored “white-fire-veiled” secrets of the “last Beyond”. It is a stunning rapture for consciousness to enter this new supramental realm and to know the mysteries of that realm. “White” symbolises consciousness of the Divine.
1.18 Power-swept silences: An overwhelmingly silent territory swept by the winds of divine power.
1.19 eternally sunned: The high ethers contain or possess the eternal sun.
Now consciousness which has reached the highest realm, viz., the overmind region has to rend and pierce through the veil of white-fire which curtains off the mysteries and secrets of the supremental realm. The final realization or the attaining of the Supramental Gnosis can come not by an upward movement alone-but only by a divine descent which again is perhaps speeded up by the chanung of the “flame-word” or mantra.
Disappeared: This suggests a kind of mystic merger. It is only now that thought or consciousness is really self-lost (cf. 1.5) in the bliss of the final realization or Gnosis.
1. 22 All the words in this line – left, lone, limitless, nude, immune – suggest and reinforce the idea of a total merger into or identification with the divine.
Immune: This word suggests again the nirguna (attributeless) stage which the soul has attained when it will no longer be subjected to the pulls of the prakriti or the phenomenal world.
(For a fuller elucidation of this poem the following works may be consulted in addition to Dr. K.R.S. Iyengar’s book and Aurobirido’s Life Divine)