The Shastra of the Integral Yoga

Sri Aurobindo reminds us of the real focus of our practice: “For the Sadhaka of the integral Yoga it is necessary to remember that no written Shastra, however great its authority or however large its spirit, can e more than a partial expression of the eternal Knowledge. He will use, but never bind himself even by the greatest Scripture.”

It is quite common that people who follow a particular path or tradition will value the scriptures of that path highly and become attached to them in ways that exclude anything else. Sri Aurobindo wants to ensure that the artificial limitations imposed by such a response need to be overcome eventually.

“His Yoga may be governed for a long time by one Scripture or by several successively,–if it is in the line of the great Hindu tradition, by the Gita, for example, the Upanishads, the Veda.” Similarly for those following the traditions of the other great religions or paths in the world.

It is also possible to find value and benefit from a wide and varied access to the scriptures of many paths. “But in the end he must take his station, or better still, if he can, always and from the beginning he must live in his own soul beyond the written Truth…beyond all that he has heard and all that he has yet to hear…. For he is not the Sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is a Sadhaka of the Infinite.”

For most of us, it is easiest to follow a clearly delineated and marked out path in our Yoga and we thus become highly reliant on the written scriptures we honor for their direct guidance. Sri Aurobindo asks us to take help from them where it is available, but to always listen to the Truth of the soul.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 1, The Four Aids, pg. 49