The purpose of attaining self-knowledge is not to create an intellectual framework and be able to learnedly expound on a subject; rather, self-knowledge implies that the seeker has a purpose behind the effort. This purpose may be to find a way to gain ‘liberation’ from the existing life, to escape the sense of illusion that permeates all goals and actions of the external life, or it may be, as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother indicate, to gain self-mastery over the external nature and thereby prepare the being for the next stage of evolutionary development in the divine manifestation.

Dr. Dalal writes: “Self-understanding must lead to self-mastery. As the Mother, explaining the meaning of her phrase, ‘to know oneself and control oneself’, says: ‘This means to be conscious of one’s inner truth, conscious of the different parts of one’s being and their respective functions. You must know why you do this, why you do that; you must know your thoughts, know your feelings, all your activities, all your movements, of what you are capable, etc. And to know oneself is not enough: this knowledge must bring a conscious control. ‘To know oneself perfectly is to control oneself perfectly.’ ‘ “

“Dr. Dalal concludes: “These statements imply that an understanding of the different parts of one’s being constituting our different selves must result in self-control and self-mastery if the mental understanding is to become true self-knowledge. But true self-mastery can come about only when the different parts of the being — which are normally divided and conflicted — are unified around the inmost centre of our being, the soul or psychic being. As the Mother remarks, ‘This unification is indispensable if one wants to be the master of one’s being and of all its actions.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. xiv-xv

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.