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Simplicity, Austerity and Luxury

By Karmayogi

Simplicity is the unostentatious quiet strength of inner poise that is indifferent to outer appearance. Luxury is focused attention on the external appearance of splendour in utter disregard of inner content. That which ineffectually seeks the non-existent inner strength, is incapable of any worthwhile external appearance, and violently refuses what it has not, is Austerity, Vrta. Mother says austerity is for the child soul. A man was selected for the post of an MLA with bright chances of success. On the morning of polling he was missing. A search discovered him in his cow shed where boys were making balls of cow dung costing a rupee each. He was cautious not to miss anything there. He lost his election. In a sense, Austerity is of that type.

King Janaka was a great soul, greater than the Rishis of the time. Narada desired to discover the truth himself. Narada is a god. Gods have souls, not the psychic, the evolving soul. Man alone can have the psychic when he wants to develop it. Gods who live in timelessness cannot develop the Psychic even if they want it. Should they seek it, they must be born on earth as men. Narada, not having the Psychic, saw the royal role of Janaka living in splendour and exercising authority. Narada declared that Janaka was no Rishi, while the fact is Janaka was greater than all the Rishis. It needs the psychic perception to see that the external luxury leaves the inner soul untouched.

In the last chapter of The Life Divine entitled ‘Divine Life', Sri Aurobindo discusses Simplicity, Austerity and Luxury. There He says Divine Life can be simple or luxurious. There is no condition. It is the choice of the inner evolving soul. A scholar who seeks the ultimate knowledge can seek it from a sannyasi under a tree or a professor in a university. What matters is knowledge. Any stipulation generates superstition.

Jawaharlal Nehru was educated in Cambridge, ended up in Sabarmathi Ashram, and moved to the commodious mansion of the commander-in-Chief some months after his becoming the Prime Minister. The need of the hour decides the externals, not the other way around. Have you ever seen a picture of God in rags? Those who have had a vision of God in their meditation have never found him in rags. The inner content matters, not the outer appearance.
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