Seven Quartets of Becoming is an analysis of the diaries which Sri Aurobindo maintained for some years after he arrived in Pondicherry in 1910, and which were published much later in two volumes as Record of Yoga. The book outlines the system of experimental yogic practice that Sri Aurobindo followed and recorded in his diary notes. The notes form a type of scientist’s log tracing a complex psychological experiment carried out with himself as the subject. Sri Aurobindo called this schema of seven lines of practice the sapta chatushtaya, which the author has translated as the Seven Quartets. These seven aspects of yogic practice are peace, power, knowledge, body, being, action, and integration. Banerji outlines the system comprising these seven aspects of yogic practice – peace, power, knowledge, body, being, action, and integration –, pointing out correlations and elaborations in some of Sri Aurobindo’s later writings, such as The Synthesis of Yoga, The Mother, and his last written prose work, The Supramental Manifestation Upon Earth. The author begins his study with the quartet of integration or integral perfection, the siddhi chatushtaya, which takes up the general elements of perfection:
Emphasising the overarching nature of this quartet, Sri Aurobindo alternately named it yoga chatushtaya or the quartet of yoga. We see that he enumerated the goals of this quartet as shuddhi, mukti, bhukti and siddhi. These terms Sri Aurobindo himself translated broadly as: purification, liberation, enjoyment and perfection, respectively. Of these, we may say that the core, the meaning of the quartet of perfection, and of what Sri Aurobindo considered the goal of his own yoga, is to be found in the two central elements: mukti and bhukti (liberation and enjoyment).
The chapter continues by stressing that the primary pre-requisite for a perfect liberation and a perfect enjoyment is purification, and by drawing out the different elements of the yogic psychology which need to be purified. The elements of the nervous being, the will, the emotional being, and the various aspects of the mind are to be subjected to the purifying power of equality. The importance of equality is underlined by Sri Aurobindo by his turning this discipline into the first of the specific yogic practices, the shanti chatushtaya, the quartet of peace, or the perfection of equality.
While the author’s primary objective throughout the book is to understand the processes and goals of the integral transformation of being and nature in Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga, he also seeks to understand its place in relation to traditional systems of yoga. In addition, he is looking for an approach that will interpret this field of yoga, a psychology of process aimed at integral transformation, in the context of the ongoing progress of contemporary psychology and philosophy and firmly situates the system presented in the Seven Quartets as a transformational yoga psychology. Finally, he states that part of his objective “is to gain a key, an opening, to understanding the inner life of Sri Aurobindo through the Record of Yoga, seen as a lived example, that we can learn from, and derive inspiration from, for success in experimental practice”.
Seven Quartets of Becoming: A Transformative Yoga Psychology Based on the Diaries of Sri Aurobindo can be purchased directly through the publisher: D.K. Printworld