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Why Would I Keep the Temple Clean?

Dr. Monica Gulati


This article explores why we need to put in effort to be honest, sincere and vigilant towards our being and why we need to place so much personal effort at being on guard. It also looks at the motivation behind putting in effort on the path of self-purification.

One often wonders, being conscious of every ripple in the being, every thought in the being, every mood-swing about to overpower you, if all this requires so much vigilance, so much effort, why would one do it?

Well, one would do it out of love towards oneself.

One would do it, because when one’s being is organised and sorted within, it is a blessing to people around.

One would do it, because one has suffered enough, and seen that most misery is self-generated. And now one wants to take care of one’s well-being so much because one doesn’t want to inflict more suffering on oneself.

As the Mother shares:

“We have to be patient.
You can’t imagine how, as you go forward and as all that Consciousness, in fact, grows more and more alive, true and constant, how at first you feel you are a rotten bundle of insincerity, hypocrisy, lack of faith, doubt, stupidity. Because as (how can I explain?…) as the balance changes between the parts of the being and as the luminous part increases, the rest grows more and more inadequate and intolerable. Then you are really utterly disgusted (there was a time when it used to hurt me, long ago — not so long ago, but anyway long enough, a few years ago), and more and more there is the movement (a very spontaneous and simple movement, very complete): ‘I can’t do anything about it. It’s impossible, I can’t, it’s such a colossal work that it’s impossible — Lord, do it for me.’ And when you do this with the simplicity of a child (gesture of offering), really like this, you know, really convinced that you cannot do it, ‘It’s not possible, I’ll never be able to do it — do it for me,’ it’s wonderful!…. Oh, He does it, mon petit, you’re dumbfounded afterwards: “How come… (1)!”

One would do it, because one has lost the taste for suffering, for unease.

One would do it, because one sees that the lasting contentment and joy everyone is seeking cannot be found in others, as each one out there is seeking like a beggar, in the others out there, but have remained empty-handed.

One would do it, because one is in love with the simplicity, joy, peace and love that gets generated when one is sincere, vigilant, conscious and doesn’t let the outer disturbing elements (like desire, anger, jealousy, expectations, the whole bunch…) rule the being.

One would do it, because one sees so much progress, joy, satisfaction in this process of inner vigilance and cleansing. That’s why one would put in the necessary effort.

One would do it, because one has developed a love for inner beauty, harmony and neatness.
One would do it, because one realises that one has the choice to do this.

One would do it, because one can’t be otherwise.

“You must keep the temple clean if you wish to install there the living Presence (2).”

Why sincerity and vigilance?

Sincerity requires effort. Sincerity requires being conscious of what’s happening in the being; so all my focus on others and their reactions can now switch to an inward focus, to look at my inner movements as a result of outer triggers and otherwise. Sincerity would also mean discernment, a clear knowing that tells me, what benefits or what harms. If I am sincere, it would be revealed to me, most often than not, that I myself generate my misery. And then I can appropriate the right action for that moment and context.

Why would I put effort into being sincere? Because in sincerity I can see that following the dictates of disturbing impulses makes me complicated, and pulls and weighs me down, while following alignment with inner truth, the purer path, gives me clarity, removes the haze and makes life simple and beautiful for myself and others.

If I am sincere, I would see that I mostly operate through personal agendas and manipulative demands, and although in my ignorance I think they will serve me, but I see that they don’t. They make life a living hell for me and others. How long will I continue this torture to myself and others? Now that I can see that it harms.

Hence, I will put in effort to be conscious, for whenever the ripples of ego-consciousness, and the beggar in me arises, I will be able to see them arise and have the courage to step back and not follow their dictates; the Aryan Spirit required on the path.

The Mother talks of a vigilance not faltering even for a moment, in her prayer of December 11, 1912:

“I await without haste, without inquietude, the tearing of another veil, the Union made more complete. I know that the veil is formed of a whole mass of small imperfections, of attachments without number…. How shall all these disappear? Slowly, as the result of countless small efforts and a vigilance not faltering even for a moment, or suddenly, through a great illumination of Thy All-Puissant Love? I know not, I do not even put to myself the question; I wait, keeping watch as best I can, in the certitude that nothing exists save Thy Will, that Thou alone art the doer and I am the instrument; and when the instrument is ready for a completer manifestation, the manifestation will quite naturally take place (3).”

Right effort

Saint Kabir too, in many of his couplets and songs, talks of an unending, uncompromising vigilance required on the path of divine perfection.

“Kabir ka ghar shikhar pe, aur silhali si gail,
Wahan paanv tike naa papeel ka, tahan manva laade bail.”

Translation: “Kabir’s home is on the peak, and the road to the peak is slippery. Even an ant cannot walk without slipping, and you are going to tread the path with this bullock cart (burdened mind)? (4).”

If we are honest, we will see that without vigilance, we end up collecting and accumulating a lot of garbage in our mind and feelings. The mind is heavy, and burdened with all the limited perceptions and interpretations of the inputs from the senses. And the feelings are burdened too, owing to a constant identification with the feelings as me, and mine.

So, just like we are vigilant about our houses, and don’t let the garbage accumulate, and keep on regularly cleaning the house we have to be vigilant about our being. For this being that we have is the temple of the Divine, the house of the godhead within. And we have to begin to honour and respect that Presence within, and therefore put in the effort in decluttering the inner sanctuary, keeping the mind free of garbage, the feelings pure and true and light.

In another song, Saint Kabir talks about how the deer of five senses will eat up your farm’s crop, so be a good guard, put in the right effort.

“Jatan bin, mirgaa ne khet ujaada….”

Translation: “Without effort (jatan), the deer of five senses, will spoil the farm (5).”

With Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s words, we know that senses are not the problem, they can be refined to perfection. The problem is our wrong identification with the senses and the misinterpretation of sensory input through the limited logical mind and the vital, and sticking tightly and rigidly to our version of reality.

Most often, in our ordinary consciousness, we don’t see the elements of desire, anger, ambitions, pride, vanity, jealousy, greed, lust as something disturbing. We see them as a way of our life. Thinking, everyone has all these, so I too will live with these as a part of my life. Very rarely, now not so rarely, one wakes up and sees that following the dictates of these disturbing elements is making life miserable, and that these elements come from outside, and are not a part of my true inherent nature. Because if they were true to my nature, they will not make me this uneasy, the way they make me now. So, beginning to question is a very good baby-step.

“It is an invaluable possession for every living being to have learnt to know himself and to master himself. To know oneself means to know the motives of one’s actions and reactions, the why and the how of all that happens in oneself. To master oneself means to do what one has decided to do, to do nothing but that, not to listen to or follow impulses, desires or fancies (6).”

Flowering of purity, inner and outer beauty and harmony

We see that with being conscious, being sincere and being vigilant, we can maintain an inner sanctity, and uproot all that is unhealthy, weed-like and not beneficial. So, sincerity and vigilance go together, and gradually with our conscious efforts we feel a purity, beauty and harmony in the being.

“You must have surely noticed (perhaps very vaguely) that those who live in an inner peace, in an inner beauty, a light, and perfect goodwill, have an expression which is not quite the same as of people who live in bad thoughts, in the lower part of their nature. When the human being is at his best, above his base animality, he reflects something which is not there when he lives in a state of bestiality.

If one tried to change one’s form out of egoism or that famous thing, vanity, naturally, one would not succeed, for it is something deeper which has the power to act; but if one could refrain from having at all times bad will, wicked thoughts, one would see a kind of harmony beginning to express itself gradually in the form and features, for it is a fact that the body expresses the inner states.

But you forget one thing. If you have in the whole day five or six hours of higher consciousness, you feel that it is already much, and the rest of the time you live more or less like a little animal, you let yourself go, you are driven by circumstances. And you forget completely to approach the Thing which is above, which can prevent you from descending into the lower regions of your nature.

You could get much more from your body if you only took the trouble (7).”

Only after (and even simultaneously) the right effort is put, we have in our being the flowering of the aspects of the Mother as Maheshwari, Mahasarasvati, Mahalakshmi, and Mahakali, as shared by Sri Aurobindo in his writings on the Mother.

So let us march forward and forward on the path, with the personal effort required of us.

“…. But so long as the lower nature is active the personal effort of the Sadhaka remains necessary.”

The personal effort required is a triple labour of aspiration, rejection and surrender:

“.... an aspiration vigilant, constant, unceasing — the mind’s will, the heart’s seeking, the assent of the vital being, the will to open and make plastic the physical consciousness and nature; rejection of the movements of the lower nature — rejection of the mind’s ideas, opinions, preferences, habits, constructions, so that the true knowledge may find free room in a silent mind, — rejection of the vital nature’s desires, demands, cravings, sensations, passions, selfishness, pride, arrogance, lust, greed, jealousy, envy, hostility to the Truth, so that the true power and joy may pour from above into a calm, large, strong and consecrated vital being, — rejection of the physical nature’s stupidity, doubt, disbelief, obscurity, obstinacy, pettiness, laziness, unwillingness to change, tamas, so that the true stability of Light, Power, Ananda may establish itself in a body growing always more divine; surrender of oneself and all one is and has and every plane of the consciousness and every movement to the Divine and the Shakti (8).”


1. The Mother. Mother’s Agenda, Volume 5. Paris: Institut de Recherchess Evolutives; 1979 (English transl) , p. 158.

2. Sri Aurobindo. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 32. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2012, p.4.

3. The Mother. The Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 1. 2nd ed. Pondicherry 2003. p. 13.

4. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 16th November 2022].

5. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 16th November 2022].

6. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 12; 1999, p. 166.

7. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 4 Cent ed. ; 1977, p. 55.

8. Sri Aurobindo. Complete Works, Volume 32; p. 6.

Dr. Monica Gulati, a learner and a seeker, is based in Gurgaon, India and an editor of NAMAH.

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Saint Kabir


inner peace


Sri Aurobindo