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Integral Health

The metaphysical foundation of Integral Health – the battle of the body

Dr. Soumitra Basu

There is a very old legend of creation which has a great psychological relevance. The Mother was fond of explaining it. At the beginning of creation, certain principles were thrown into the manifestation. There were four basic principles:

(a) Consciousness (or Light)
(b) Life
(c) Truth
(d) Love and Bliss (Ananda)

At the very beginning, it was decided that what would be created must be “a world of total freedom, a freedom of choice (1).“ Naturally, all the principles began to develop in infinite ways, with infinite potentialities, infinite variations and in infinite freedom to create a world of manifold possibilities and potentialities.

At this junction, a problem surfaced. It is a known fact that if anything is allowed to develop freely in infinite ways, its opposite properties and maladaptive potentialities can also manifest. The very fact that an infinite variation is allowed automatically ensures that the opposite of any value can manifest. Those principles, which were basic to creation, also developed their opposites as they were free to do so. Thus:

(a) Consciousness (Light) turned into Obscurity, Inconscience, Darkness, Ignorance,
(b) Life turned into Death,
(c) Truth turned into Falsehood, and
(d) Love and Bliss turned into Suffering.

Thus were created the powers, attributes and emanations of the Devil, of Satan, of the Asura. The world plunged into utter confusion, interminable chaos and a veritable nightmare.

A damage-control exercise, however belated, became necessary. A second set of corrective principles, a second line of emanations were allowed to enter the creation. These are called variously as the gods, the heavenly messengers, the divine principles and the superconscient forces. At every step, they are opposed by the powers of the Devil which being older and more primitive, are firmly entrenched in the creation. The result was that the world became a battlefield, a place of war, combat, strife, suffering and endless misery.

Every sphere of life was affected. At the end, as all assaults, gross or subtle, are borne by the human body, health became an area of concern ever since civilisation began. Morbidity and mortality were the triumphant achievements of the negative forces. One of the greatest victories of the adverse forces was to continually obstruct the progress of mankind by crippling the human being with disease and crowning him with death.

The conflict of the adverse forces with the powers of the gods or heavenly messengers made matters more complex. Any conflict needs a field to be worked out and in this case it was the human body that became the battlefield. On one hand, giant dark forces from the inconscient invaded the body to suck its energies, while collective suggestions and disruptive forces from the cosmic consciousness entered through the subconscious to perpetuate suffering and make illness a recurring phenomenon. On the other hand, due to the presence and intervention of the higher superconscient forces, the possibility and technique of healing was born and a passage for the percolation of the healing energies was created in answer to the prayers and aspirations of mankind. Thus was created the science of medicine, albeit, the science of life, together with the tradition of healers, the physicians.

Yet the victory in the field of health was partial and temporal. Ultimately, Death ruled supreme. It was the same in all other spheres of life. Ignorance, Falsehood and Suffering teamed up with Death to form the Satan’s quartette. Despite God’s grace, the Devil seemed to triumph on earth.

A remedy was needed but it could not be conceived in life and on the earth:

(1) In the Semitic traditions, there was no solution available on the earth but if one led a pious life, a berth in heaven was assured.

(2) Shankaracharya opined that the world of relations and transactions was false and the Brahman, the Supreme Being was the only Truth worth pursuing. There was no solution on earth except the escape from the cycles of birth and death into the freedom of the Infinite.

(3)The Buddhists went further. They conceived that not only the world was false but the perception that the Brahman alone was true was also false. Their solution too was to be free from the cycles of life and death to be absorbed into the bosom of the great Zero.

The world had to wait till Sri Aurobindo gave a solution to conquer the Adversary on earth itself. He acknowledged the past traditions, for each tradition had served the need of the hour in consonance with the consciousness of the race. Today the hour has come to be victorious over the Adversary on earth itself.

As the world stands now, it is really impossible to have a complete victory over the satanic forces in the present set of circumstances. Sri Aurobindo points out that such a victory in the world can only be achieved if the evolutionary urge moved forward beyond the mind-principle to manifest higher models of the human being. This process has to continue till a very high supramental consciousness manifests in the human race. The supramental consciousness is invested with the power to completely win over all resistance from the adverse forces as well as all intrusions from the inconscience and all imperfections in nature. The resultant effect would be that the present human race would be trans-formed and transmuted into a highly evolved species.

It sounds like a fairy-tale. Can it be really possible?

The question immediately arises, “Is not the present human structure too imperfect to withstand the stress of transformation?”

Sri Aurobindo explains that it is precisely because the human being is imperfect, and his nature is transitional, therefore he needs a mutant transformation to evolve into a higher being. The lotus in the splendour of its beauty is a perfect creation. The lion in the royalty of its strength is also a perfect creation. Only the human being is imperfectly created and each individual has one defect or another. One may have a physical impediment, another may be emotionally disturbed, behaviourally deviant, intellectually starved or psychologically affected. Why is the human being not perfect like the lotus or the lion? In fact, the lotus and the lion will always be the lotus and the lion; they are fixed in their respective typal characteristics. The human being is imperfect and hence has the scope, space and potentiality to exceed his limitations, to progress ad infinitum.

The second question that arises is how can we surpass our present limitations so that we evolve as higher beings? Is not a higher and elevated version of the present human being an illogical construct?

Sri Aurobindo accepts this challenge and postulates that all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony. The inertia of dull, colourless, lifeless matter stands in stark contrast to the vibrant and buoyant life-energy or vitality. Yet nature reconciled these apparently irreconcilable principles to produce a variegated array of animate forms ranging from uni-cellular to complex multi-cellular organisms. Vitality moved from its somewhat imprisoned status in plant life to a dynamic poise in animal life. Again, the rudimentary nervous apparatus in animal life stands in stark contrast to the rich, creative, innovative mind-principle that represents the highest achievement in creation. Nature reconciled them again to produce the reflective, introspective, creative and visionary human being. A further logical extension of this process of evolution cannot be denied. Sri Aurobindo assures us that the ascending march of evolution will continue and progress to manifest higher states of consciousness that would surpass the present human mind. The result would be the appearance of higher models of the human being till a very high supramental consciousness manifests.

In the very first chapter of The Life Divine that first appeared in 1914, Sri Aurobindo explained that the evolution in consciousness that transcends the present mind-principle will also be accompanied by an evolution of the “necessary organs and faculties (2)“. In 1949-50, he explained in detail the process of transformation of the body. The functioning of the bodily organs would become more supple and flexible so as to become forms of dynamism or plastic transmitters rather than being gross organs (3). The Mother described that the future human body would have unique qualities like:

(a) Lightness with no feeling of inertia, dullness or unconsciousness,
(b) Adaptability in all conditions,
(c) Plasticity, obviating the necessity of dull resistance that leaves one battered,
(d) Luminosity that vibrates at the cellular level (4).

This adventure in the realm of body-consciousness needs a futuristic trajectory of health which progressively harmonises and integrates the gains achieved at each level of the ascending movement in evolution. This is the raison d’être for developing the concept of Integral Health that progressively adapts to the evolutionary growth in consciousness. At the present hour, Integral Health has to prepare the existing human body as a template for the future body in the making.


1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 5. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1976, p. 374.

2. Sri Aurobindo. The Life Divine, SABCL, Volume 18. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1970, p. 3.

3. Sri Aurobindo. The Supramental Manifestation and other writings, SABCL, Volume 16. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1971, pp. 5-40.

4. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 3. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1977, pp. 175-6.

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Sri Aurobindo


The Mother