Question: Why do your women disciples wear saris and your men disciples wear white?

Sri Chinmoy: You have noticed that some of the women disciples who have accepted me wholeheartedly are wearing saris. Now you ask me, “Why are they doing this? Why have you turned them into Indian women?” But I wish to say I have not converted them into Indians. No! I was born in India, but I am cosmopolitan. I am God’s child. In the spiritual life you have to be very, very wise. By this I mean that if something helps you in your aspiration, you should gladly accept it. Even if it adds only one drop to your aspiration, you should do it, if you possibly can.

God-realisation does not depend on your wearing a sari; far from it. If it did, all Indian women would be God-realised souls. But I wish to say that if you wear a sari instead of slacks or the tight and immodest garments that most Western women wear, the divine feminine qualities in the form of modesty, humility, purity and divinity will automatically come to the fore in you. You may say that you do not notice anything wrong with your consciousness when you wear Western clothes, but you are wrong. You simply are not paying attention to the tremendous difference.

Ninety-nine per-cent of your realisation will depend on your aspiration. But if you can get the one per-cent from wearing a sari, then you should do it. Again, if you say, “No, I don’t want to wear it. My parents will be disturbed and my friends will mock me,” then you don’t have to wear it. You are under no obligation. I need your aspiration; I don’t need your saris.

But if you want to wear Western clothes, please dress modestly. Skirts should not be above the knee, and if you must wear slacks, they should be loose, not tight. Also, if you want to please me still more, you will wear long-sleeved or short-sleeved blouses and sweaters, not sleeveless. If you do these things, not only will they purify and divinise your own consciousness, but also they will inspire a purer consciousness in others who look at you.

Now, about the boys. I have asked my male disciples to wear white trousers and white shirts if and when they can. We know in the spiritual world that white represents purity. Purity is the consciousness of the Divine Mother. God is one; but in the feminine form He is the Mother, in the masculine form He is the Father. When men wear white clothes, immediately their purity comes forward.

Men and women each have their own particular good qualities and their own particular weaknesses. So, what each man needs is purity in abundant measure. There is not a single man who will say that he does not need purity. If today you wear a dark or coloured suit, and tomorrow you wear white, you will see the difference. When you wear white, you feel the inner message of purity. And if you have purity, the aspiration and experiences that you get from your spiritual life you can retain. Otherwise, this morning you will have a wonderful meditation and in two hours’ time you will totally lose it. Why? Because you have indulged in impure thoughts, impure ideas, impure consciousness. Impurity need not be in the physical plane at all. In the mental plane it is just as bad.

Again, the men should know that it is not their white clothes that will give them realisation. Never! But it will help a little. If your mind becomes pure for one second because you are wearing white, then this adds to your aspiration. If your goal is to get one hundred dollars and you already have ninety-nine, then if you are wise you will take the last dollar wherever you can and then say, “I have reached my goal.” But just by having that one dollar you cannot reach the goal.

If somebody says, “I don’t want to wear a sari, I don’t need to wear white. I am ready to wait five minutes more or one day more to get the extra dollar from my own aspiration,” then I will say that this person can wait. But you have to know that time is a great factor. Today I came to San Francisco from Los Angeles. It took an hour to get here on the airplane, and then I entered into my activities. But some of my disciples drove here, and it took them six or seven hours. So this is the difference. Our realisation is without end. Today we realise God, tomorrow we reveal God and the day after tomorrow we manifest God. But if we do not do today’s job as soon as possible, then everything else will also be delayed.