Q: Do the gods of the Puranas and the gods of Greek and Egyptian Mythology have any real existence ?
Mother:Between the gods of the Puranas and the gods of Grecian and Egyptian mythology, all kinds of similarities are found; it could be an interesting subject for study. To the modern Western world, all these divinities—the Greek gods and other “pagan” gods, as they call them—are simply a product of human imagination and correspond to nothing real in the universe; but this is a gross error.
To understand the mechanism of the universal life, even that of the terrestrial life, one has indeed to know that all these are real and living beings, each one in his own realm, and have an independent reality. They would exist even if men did not exist. The majority of these gods existed before men existed.
In a very old tradition, antecedent probably to the Chaldean and Vedic traditions which are its two branches, the history of creation is narrated not from the metaphysical or psychological point of view, but from an objective point of view, and this history is as real as our story of historical epochs. Of course, it is not the only way of looking at the thing, but it is quite as legitimate as any other; in any case it recognises the concrete reality of these divine beings.
They are beings’ who belong to the progressive creation of the universe and have themselves presided over its formation, from the most ethereal or subtle to the most material regions; it is a descent of the divine creative Spirit. And they descended progressively, through realities more and more—one cannot say dense, because it is not dense, one cannot say even material for matter as we know does not exist on those planes—through realities more and more concrete.
According to traditions and occult schools, all these zones of realities, these planes of realities have got different names; they are classified in a different way, but there is an essential analogy, and if you go back sufficiently far into the traditions, you see only the names changing according to the country and the language. Even now, the experiences of Western occultists and those of Eastern occultists offer great similarities. All who set out on the discovery of these invisible worlds and make a report of what they saw give a very similar description; whether they be of here or there : they use different words, but the experience is very much alike and the handling of the forces is the same.
This knowledge of the occult worlds is based on the existence of subtle bodies and of subtle worlds corresponding to those bodies; they are what the psychological method calls “states of consciousness”, but these states of consciousness really correspond to worlds. The occult procedure thus consists in being aware of these various inner states of being or subtle bodies and in being sufficiently master of them so as to be able to disclose them successively one after another. There is indeed a whole scale of increasing or decreasing subtlety, according to the direction in which you go; and the occult procedure consists in bringing out of a denser body, a subtler body and so on up to the most ethereal regions. You move on by successive exteriorisations into bodies or worlds more and more subtle. It is somewhat as if everytime you passed into another dimension. The fourth dimension of the physicists is nothing else but a mere scientific transcription of an occult knowledge. To give another image, one can say that the physical body is in the centre —it is the most material, the densest and also the smallest— and the more subtle inner bodies overflow more and more the central physical body; they pass through, stretching themselves farther and farther, like water evaporating from a porous vase and forming a kind of steam all around. And the greater the subtlety, the larger the extension, tending to attain to that of the universe; one ends by universalising oneself. And it is a quite concrete process, that gives an objective experience of invisible worlds, enabling one even to act in these worlds.
There is therefore a very small number of people in the West who know that these gods are not merely subjective and imaginary—more or less wildly imaginary—but they correspond to an universal truth.
All these regions, all these domains are filled with beings who exist, each in his domain, and if you are awake and conscious in a particular plane—for instance, if on coming out of a more material body you awake on some higher plane, you have the same relation with the things and people of that plane as you had with the things and people of the material world; that is to say there exists a thoroughly objective relation that has nothing to do with the idea you may have of these things. Naturally, the resemblance is greater and greater as you approach the physical, the material world; even there comes a time when one region has a direct action upon another. In any case, in what Sri Aurobindo calls over mental worlds, you will find a concrete reality, absolutely independent of your personal experience; you go back there and find again the same things, with the differences that have occurred during your absence. And you have relations with those beings that are identical with the relations with physical beings, with this difference that the relation is more plastic, supple and direct —for example, there is the capacity to change the external form, the visible form, following the inner state in which you are; but you can give someone an appointment and you can be at the appointed place and find the same being again with certain differences that have come about in your absence; it is quite concrete with results quite concrete.
One must have at least a little of this experience in order to understand these things. Otherwise, those who are convinced that all this is mere human imagination and mental formations, who believe that these gods have such and such form, because men have thought them to be like that and that they have these defects and these qualities because men have thought them like that —all people who say that God is made in the image of man and that he exists only in human thought,—all these will not understand, to them it will appear absolutely ridiculous, madness. One must have lived a little, touched a little the subject to know how much concrete the thing is.