Individual Nature, Typal Nature and the Soul

Our individual nature and action represents a certain “uniqueness” within a larger framework of conformity to our “type” as a member of a species. Every species has what we may call a “typal” nature that provides a framework for the potentialities and development of each individual within that species. Thus, an ant will be seen to act in a way characteristic to ants, and this will be different than the way that a dog will act, although all dogs will act in a manner consistent with “dog-nature”. Similarly all human beings share the basic characteristics of “human-nature”.

Within this basic framework, however, individual human beings can express variances that provide an individuality to their representation of the human species.

The individual human being also embodies a soul which partakes of Divine Nature.

It is therefore the interaction of these three elements, the typal, the individual and the divine, that provides us the unique expression we recognize as a unique human being.

The concept of Swabhava expresses this idea that there is a “way of being” that is characteristic of each species and for each individual within the typal framework.

Sri Aurobindo describes the relation of Swabhava to Swadharma, the law of action of each being or type: “Man is at once himself, in a certain way peculiar and unique, and a depressed portion of God and a natural portion of mankind. There is in other words a general and an individual Swadharma or natural principle and law of all action for the kind and for the individual in the kind. And it is clear too that every action must be a particular application, a single result, a perfect or imperfect, right or perverted use of the general and within it of the individual swadharma.”

“The law of the action is determined generally by this swabhava of the species and individually by the swabhava of the individual but within that larger circle.”

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 13, The Foundation, pg. 112,