‘In all religious and particularly in occult initiations, the ritual of the different ceremonies is prescribed in every detail; each word uttered, each gesture made has its importance and the least infraction of the rule, the least mistake committed can have disastrous consequences.’ (The Mother)
The annual conference on Women’s Council, Sri Aurobindo Society, was organized on the theme ‘Surrender’ from 20-22 November, 2023 at Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry. As part of the conference, Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, gave a talk on ‘Rituals, Symbolism, and Spiritual Significances.’
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Tripathy highlighted significant aspects of surrender in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He referred to the sayings of the Mother: ‘True surrender enlarges you; it increases your capacity; it gives you a greater measure in quality and in quantity, which you could not have had yourself.’
Referring to the Indian tradition, he said that the spirit of Indian wisdom is based on two aspects: Shastra, which defines the theoretical knowledge, and Prayoga, the practical application. In all the religious traditions of the world, we find many practices that have a symbolic meaning and a deeper meaning. But the rituals have a significant role to transforming the human life into a higher level of consciousness as well.
He informed about Vedic symbolism in the light of Sri Aurobindo “The ritual of the Veda is a symbolic ritual supposed by those who used it to be by virtue of its symbolism practically effective of both inner & outer results in life & the world.” He further added the vision of Maharshi Aurobindo on ‘Mystic symbolism which gave a deep internal meaning to the exterior circumstances of creed & cult.’ The Vedic texts and practices have evolved over thousands of years and have shaped the spiritual and cultural fabric of India. While some people adhere strictly to these traditions, others interpret them in contemporary contexts, adapting them to modern lifestyles while preserving their essence.
He further emphasized that rituals, spirituality, symbolism, divinity, and culture are deeply interconnected. These are ceremonies and practices outlined in the Vedas, such as yajnas (fire rituals), puja (worship), mantras (sacred chants), and havans (offerings into the sacred fire). These rituals are performed to appease deities, seek blessings, promote well-being, and maintain cosmic order. He said that rituals and spirituality focus on the interconnectedness of all living beings with the divine.
‘Symbolism had clothed with its beautiful figures the ancient idea of a divine presence and supraphysical life and power in all nature, in every particle of life and matter, in all animal existence, and in all the mental action of man.’
(The Renaissance in India)