The question of ‘hostile forces’ is one that generally needs a certain amount of reflection. In the West, the major religious denominations frequently speak of the devil, the fallen angels, Satan, and other beings to which they attribute a malignant power that pressures human beings to commit ‘sins’. Thus, the West is very much aligned with the idea of such hostile forces active in our lives. The issue, however, is not so much the commission of sin, which, after all, varies from culture to culture and religion to religion, but in the influence these vital forces have upon the constitution of the individual and the weakening of the nervous envelope, and thereby creating numerous difficulties for the individual. There is also the question of possession, which the West again has a great deal of faith in, whereby certain forces gain so much control over the individual that they drive him forward to the detriment of his mind, his life and his body. Hitler has been frequently named a victim of hostile possession and the nervous weakness, madness and extreme ways he reacted have been cited as evidence of this possession.

How can one recognise the action and influence of hostile forces, and what can be done about them? One can frequently see a weakness of the nerves as one sign of the pressure they exert. The physical body actually provides a certain amount of protection to the vital being, which otherwise might contact the vital planes directly where such forces reside and have their native power. A strong vital sheath also is an aid. The main issue, however, comes down to how one ‘tunes’ one’s focus. If the attention is turned toward these vital forces and their pressure, one is constantly battling them and occupied with their action, their power and presence, and the impacts one experiences. If the attention, however, is turned towards the Divine, their influence is much attenuated, or even removed. It is of utmost importance not to give in to fear, and to surround oneself with faith in the Divine Grace and its action.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Your ailment is evidently in its foundation an illness of the nerves and not an ordinary physical disease. These maladies are a creation of the pressure of hostile forces; they increase if anything in you assents to them and accepts, and the more the mind gives value to them and dwells on them, the more they grow. The only way is to remain quiet, dissociate yourself and refuse to accept it or make much of it, allow the calm and strength that the Mother has been putting around you to enter your mind and permeate your nervous system. To do otherwise is to place yourself on the side of the hostile forces that are afflicting you. The cure may take long because your nervous system has been long subjected to these influences and, when they are evicted, they return with violence to re-establish their hold. But if you can acquire and keep patience and fortitude and the right consciousness and right attitude with regard to these things, the hold they have will progressively disappear.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Healing the Nerves, pp. 101-107

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 16 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.