Greek Mythology: A vast spiritual Synthesis introducing the Work of Sri Aurobindo
This talk was given in Auroville on February 7th, 2015
The purpose of this talk is to show how Greek mythology can relate to the work of Sri Aurobindo.
Indeed, this mythology is a vast spiritual synthesis and the study of it can be a good introduction to the work of Sri Aurobindo.
It should also be remembered that during his studies in England, Sri Aurobindo not only absorbed Greek and Latin culture, but also became very interested in Greek mythology. He started to write, besides Savitri, a long poem of almost four thousand verses which he left unfinished: Ilion. (Ilion is another name for the city of Troy). This poem picks up on the story of the Trojan War at the point where Homer left it in the Iliad, starting from the support given by the Amazon Penthesilia to the Trojans until the fall of Troy. It seem that Sri Aurobindo wanted to take up the description of the spiritual path, starting from the events described in the Aethiopis – poem of the Trojan Cycle of which we have only a brief summary – which immediately followed the Iliad and dealt with the commitment of the Amazon Penthesilia and the events between the death of Hector and the sack of Troy. Before him, Quintus of Smyrna, a Latin poet of the 3rd or 4th century A.D. offered a version in fourteen songs.
We can safely assume that the framework of Greek mythology didn’t give Sri Aurobindo enough room to express his visions and experiences, but above all, it called for a prior decoding of the used symbolism which deprives the reader of a direct understanding. We suppose that this was one of the reasons why he abandoned Ilion for Savitri.
The interpretation revealing this connection is published in three volumes under the title: Mythologie grecque, yoga de l”Occident (Greek Mythology, Yoga of the West) at the “Editions de Midi”. This work, spanning a few decades, would not have been possible without the gradual updating of the encryption keys including:
- The meaning of the basic symbols used at the time of Homer, many of them derived from the Vedas, such as the cow, the illuminating principle of the Supermind which is the plane of Truth, beyond the seven planes of the mind.
- The archetypal content of the Greek alphabet letters forming the names of the heroes, gods and places.
- The structuring principles of the teachings and experiences according to a complex structure of genealogical trees.
- The concentration into a single symbol, the Caduceus of Hermes, of the organisation of Truth in its dynamic form, a symbol which, in its static form, can be studied with the Sephiroth Tree, a very complex symbol of the Hebraic Kabalistic tradition.
- Various devices to clarify certain elements such as the chronology of experiences or the progress in yoga.
Before addressing the spiritual path as such, it is necessary to familiarize oneself with the overall structure of the mythology. We will therefore examine human evolution starting from the beginning of life, although these archaic stages of consciousness are dealt with only during the most advanced stages of yoga which is a gradual, ascending process of unveiling and integration. This ascent brings us into contact with the forces required for the descent and purification process.
To view the French version, click on the French flag.
The first diagram shows the overall architecture. The two that follows present syntheses of the two great spiritual paths: that of the ascent of the plans of consciousness or “spiritualization” of the being (Iapetus) and that of the “psychisation” (Oceanos).
- For simplification purposes, number of minor characters mentioned in the texts have not been indicated. Also, to simplify the presentation, the meaning of the characters was rarely indicated under the names.
- Only the main ascendants were mentioned. Other variants and ancestries are clarified in the text.
- The numbers indicated after the names refer to the corresponding diagrams. Roman numerals, alone or before the names, indicate successive alliances. Names noted in bold type are the ones of the most important characters.
- The sign ~ indicates union (regardless of its type: marriage, long-lasting or punctual union, etc.)
- The homonymous names are not differentiated. The ancient masters of wisdom indeed used the same name for characters appearing in different lineages when they wanted to introduce the same symbolic content, possibly with various degrees of intensity. The reader who wishes to differentiate them can refer to Carlos Parada’s work : Genealogical Guide to Greek mythology.
List of diagrams