Author: Mangesh Nadkarni

Mangesh Nadkarni

The Unfinished Agenda of Spirituality
Home

The Unfinished Agenda of Spirituality

I wish to discuss here a new spirituality, a spirituality which has discarded its old limitations and inhibitions but still draws on its ancient roots and whose aim is the perfection of human life on earth. Sri Aurobindo and his collaborator the Mother were the pioneers of this new spirituality. They have been, in my opinion, the greatest revolutionaries in the spiritual annals of mankind. The intellectual elite in many parts of the world have already taken note of their contribution. The time has surely come for us as Indians to throw away the coloured glasses of our inherited and borrowed prejudices and to make an honest attempt to understand what they have been saying. The world is preparing for a great change; and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are our safest guides to this new world. My own discovery of Sri Aurobindo took place when as a university student I chanced upon a statement of his which read: “Heaven we have possessed, but not the earth; but the fullness of the Yoga is to make, in the formula of the Veda, ‘Heaven and Earth equal and one’.” The word ‘heaven’ is used here to symbolise perfection and this goal of achieving perfection of life here on earth has always appealed to me. Later, I came across a more definitive statement from him on his commitment to this goal: “I am concerned with the earth, not with worlds beyond for their own sake; it is a terrestrial realisation that I seek and not a flight to distant summits.” (Sri Aurobindo: On Himself) This emphasis on bringing perfection to life on earth and this preoccupation with this world, would be regarded by many as ‘unspiritual’ and ‘unyogic’, for they suppose that yoga and spirituality are primarily modes of acting on our inner being, leaving the world to its own devices. And for the most part, spirituality has either refused to concern itself with making this world a happier place or, when it has tried, it has been ineffectual. Sri Aurobindo sought to make spirituality capable of acting on the world and transforming it. Sri Aurobindo received a totally Western education, and knew its civilisation very well. His discovery of India and of its spiritual heritage came about later, after he returned to India in 1893. He had by then spent the formative years of his life, from the age of seven to 21, in England. Because he knew the West so well, he was keen to avoid the excesses and pitfalls he had seen in the Western approach to life, although he had a deep appreciation for all that was progressive and liberal in Western humanism. Western civilisation is supposed to be characterised by three features: a strong drive towards action, a scientific world-view, and a philosophy of enlightened self-interest. Western civilisation has been one of action; it has sought to act on human history through politics and it has sought to act on the world through knowledge of the laws of nature which it has transformed and bent to man’s needs. This has been true of most of its thinkers from Plato to Karl Marx who have always sought to put their thoughts into action. Inventions like the steam engine, the telescope and the microscope, the use of electricity and nuclear energy— all these technological achievements have brought about a real change in the world we live in. The Western model of acting on the world has a global appeal today and everywhere there is a frenzy not only to copy this Western model of action but also to adopt Western notions of happiness and lifestyle. To describe Western culture as scientific may not be entirely correct since very few people even in the West take part in science, although everyone benefits from it. There is no denying, however, that the West has tried to use practical reason and modern science to find solutions to the problems of the world; it has tried to eliminate from human life error, sorrow, pain and death. But it has largely failed to do so because the West envisages only external and secondary causes, and tries to remove them; it is unable to eliminate the roots of the malady against which we struggle. Its science is hampered in reaching its goal because of its excessive subjection to apparent fact and its refusal to look into the profounder facts of man’s inner life. On the whole, it has some times managed to manipulate circumstances and alleviate pain and suffering but it cannot exercise essential control over them. In spite of the spectacular successes of the West, a widespread weariness, a malaise seems to have affected it which makes a significant minority of people in these countries thirst for a more spiritual concept of happiness. There is a growing realisation that although the so-called Western methodology is a major contribution to satisfying elementary, physical needs, its obsession with improving living conditions through technological progress helps only to solve secondary problems. This spectacular material progress is a deceptive facade that masks the meaninglessness of modern life. What is the point in trying to double the length of human life if we fail to give meaning to that life? This would only condemn us to a life of 200 years of depression and bad moods. Thus a significant minority in the West is now looking for a happiness which is beyond that defined by a Harvard degree, a large stock portfolio, a flat stomach, an international credit card and an agreeable live-in companion. If Jesus and Marx have proved to be gods that failed, it may be time to turn to the Buddha. If the traditional church and Marxism haven’t delivered, a spirituality which is sufficiently secular may be the answer. The Western value system is said to be based on enlightened self-interest; but often this self-interest is selfishness glorified as the enhancement of the self. The strengthening of individuality as a primary agent in decision-making seems to be yielding diminishing returns. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the ability of the Western value system to govern individual lives. In its American variety of this value system, money has become a sublime good and has become a surrogate for love, work, art, play and thought. As Lapham points out we can buy everything that anybody can buy in the department store of the free world: “the Ferrari, the third husband, the F-16, the villa at Cap d’Antibes, the indoor tennis court and the Strategic Defence Initiative. But, no, it is not enough. We are not happy. Somehow we deserve more.”[1] Western civilisation in general has also come under serious criticism at the hands of thinkers like Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler and Konrad Lorenz as the harbinger of the various crises humanity is facing today. Since these critiques are well-known, I do not wish to repeat them here. There is another aspect of the Western civilisation which the rest of the world is trying to emulate, although with diminishing enthusiasm. The West has tried fervently to bring happiness to man, primarily by transforming the outer world. This is the materialist approach, which seeks to perfect humanity by using outward means and one of its main efforts has been to construct a perfect social and political system which will train men to be what they ought to be. I am referring here to the large-scale attempts made in the West to build utopias through social reform and revolution. Since the early 18th century, Europe sought to attain justice and happiness by organising a society that delivered happiness to its members through collective justice. The study of political systems became a new branch of ethics and revolution became the mode of establishing a utopia by building a new political, economic and social system from top to bottom. The first major attempt of this sort was the French Revolution in which the modern concept of a revolution emerged. Now whenever the authors of a revolution have conceived a model of society they consider perfect, they feel that they have the right to impose it on others, and, if necessary, to eliminate anyone who resists their attempts. This took place in Russia when the Marxist-Leninist theory was put into practice after the Bolshevik revolution, and later in China under Mao. In the Pol Pot in Cambodia the logic of such systems was pushed to the extreme; the result was grotesque and deadly excesses. All of these systems share a central idea—building a utopia through the revolutionary transformation of society. But all of them failed in practice. Social reform was supposed to replace ethical reform, but it has led to disaster; the West is now distraught by the failure of its social systems and is faced with an ethical vacuum. Hence the widespread interest in wisdom doctrines and Eastern spirituality. We see a growing tendency in the West to look up towards Eastern spirituality to learn how to act on oneself and on the world. But what has spirituality to offer? In its essence, spirituality is an awakening to the inner reality of our being. The spiritual way is to work outward from within the way of materialism is to work inward from without. Materialism makes the inner a result of the outer, and therefore fundamentally a phenomenon of matter. Spirituality works inward by opening the mind, vital and physical to the inner reality in us. The spiritualist believes that transforming the outer world has its limits and the effect of outer transformation on our inner happiness is limited. For man is not a machine and it is his mind that makes him feel happy or miserable. The spiritualist thus believes that trying to act on the outer world without having transformed oneself inwardly can’t lead to long-term or lasting happiness. If we have the necessary inner power, we should try to act on the outer world, but the inner transformation is the indispensable first step. To eliminate long-term suffering, we should reflect on the origin of suffering and become aware of the ignorance which brings us suffering. Our identification with the ego or a separate self is the root cause of our suffering. We cherish this ego-self, with all its desires, and suffering comes when it does not get what it wants. This ego-self is believed by some spiritualists to be a fictitious thing with no real existence, while others believe that it is only a mask or a surface self which hides our true self. But both agree that we must detach ourselves from it. Once we develop a detachment from this limited self, we are no longer afraid of not getting what we want or being subjected to what we don’t want. This then leads to a state of inner illumination. And all are unanimous about the positive, blissful and abiding nature of the experience that comes from this state of egolessness. Once you are in that state, you find yourself engulfed in infinite peace, infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and immortality. The efficacy of spirituality in acting on oneself and removing the real causes of our suffering permanently is a proven fact of subjective experience. It is not surprising, therefore, that a growing number of people in the West are attracted by the various kinds of meditation practices and to Eastern spirituality in general. Here we must pause for a while and raise a few questions about the value of this spiritual enterprise. For one thing, it is necessary to recognise that this enterprise has a fairly low rate of success. In spite of the popularity of spiritual establishments in the West, genuine spirituality is a very arduous undertaking and success in it demands an inner call, patience, perseverance and total commitment. It is worthwhile, therefore, to bear in mind the caution voiced by the Bhagavad Gita, that among the many who strive to follow the path only a rare individual reaches the destination. Secondly, we must ask, isn’t spirituality in the final analysis a selfish undertaking? I am only one person, while others are countless; how significant then is what happens to me, whether good or bad, to the happiness of others? Third, spirituality seems to be concerned only with the suffering caused by what are called the shad ripus, by our own failings, wrongs and weaknesses, our excessive anger, pride and greed. But what about malnutrition, famine, torture by tyrants or being put to the sword by a hostile population? There is evil all around us playing havoc with our world. How are we going to deal spiritually with situations like the ones we had in Auschwitz and in Bosnia? Surely, to eliminate evils like these we need remedies which are more outwardly effective than enlightened Buddhahood or the poised consciousness of a sthitaprajna. Many spiritualists would agree that to free oneself alone from suffering is a severely limited goal. One should have the intention of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings. You transform yourself in order to acquire the capacity to help others free themselves from suffering. But the question is: what power does this give us to prevent the kinds of evil that I have just mentioned? In other words, does spirituality enable us to act on the world and make it a better place? Of course, the enlightened spiritual person has the power to help others take to his path through his example, influence and teaching. But how far does this go towards alleviating the world’s suffering? There has been no dearth of spiritual luminaries in this world and most of them have tried vigorously to propagate their teachings to the world at large. What has been its tangible effect on the human mass ? As a character in Sri Aurobindo’s great epic Savitri puts it:       The Avatars have lived and died in vain,       Vain was the sage’s thought, the prophet’s voice;       In vain is seen the shining upward Way.       Earth lies unchanged beneath the circling sun;       She loves her fall and no omnipotence       Her mortal imperfections can erase,       Force on man’s crooked ignorance Heaven’s straight line       Or colonise a world of death with gods. The non-spiritualists have tried to solve the problems of war, poverty, famine and ecological destruction, but we have seen that their solutions are temporary in effect because they do not go deep enough in their search for the roots of these maladies. But the spiritualist does not seem to fare any better here since he has an almost impracticable agenda before him. For he believes that it is never going to be possible for groups of humans to stop killing each other, as in Bosnia, until individuals change themselves—that is, until the individuals themselves one by one give up anger, hatred and violence. Many thinkers and ideologies base their hopes of universal peace on a transformation of human nature. All the systems of wisdom, the great Utopias and the main religions have reckoned on that hypothesis. But we haven’t yet found a way of changing human nature that really works on a wide scale. There is another ideological stance some spiritualists take—an isolationist one—and many varieties of Indian spirituality proudly proclaim their adherence to it. In essence, this ideology asks you to reject the world as a source of falsehood, corruption and imperfection in order to save yourself from being contaminated by it. The lure of moksha, liberation from the world-illusion, has caught many in its net. The world in which we live, they say, is like the crooked tail of a dog; it can never be made straight. The only wise course of action is to reject this world and turn within to the consciousness of Brahman which is the only reality. But withdrawing from the world in the name of spirituality is tantamount to saying that the creator has made a blunder in creating this world, and we in our wisdom have decided to correct it by opting out and uniting inwardly with the divine. This kind of spirituality has been the bane of our nation; it has made life seem not worth living, and so we have neglected it. The question is not whether Mayavada, the name by which this philosophy is known, is logically sound or not, but whether it is a worthy ideal for mankind, for it fails both man and God and makes this marvellous creation a pointless exercise. It is against the background of such a world-negating spirituality that the new spirituality propounded by Sri Aurobindo has to be seen. Sri Aurobindo does not reject the Indian spiritual tradition. He only extends it in such a way that it ceases to be merely an endeavour for personal fulfilment and becomes instead a means of bringing perfection to life on earth as a whole. His starting point is the perception of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the reality of a being or a consciousness, a self of all things, one and eternal. To put his teaching briefly in his own words: … this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with the mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection. (Sri Aurobindo: On Himself) The early steps in evolution were taken by nature since there is no conscious will in the plant and animal life. In man, nature at last has a conscious instrument since it has evolved in him a conscious mind and will. This self-reflective consciousness has brought with it the ability to direct its own destiny. But for further evolution, the mind in man is not enough because after a point it can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which the mind may change into a higher principle. The method to do this is the ancient psychological discipline and practice of yoga. In the past, yoga meant drawing away from the world and it culminated in merging into the self or the spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that a yoga is possible which will enable man to acquire a consciousness which is higher than the mind; he called it the Supermind, or the ‘supramental truth-consciousness’. This new consciousness will have sufficient power not only to release man inwardly into the highest spirit but also to enable him to grow out of his animal humanity into a divine being. His claim is that this supramental consciousness will be able to change human nature and bring to all the parts of our being, mind, life and body, a divine perfection. This briefly is Sri Aurobindo’s thesis. My concern here is not with the scientific certitude of this thesis. In The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo has shown that this new consciousness is a logical inevitability in evolution. On the basis of his own spiritual experience and vision, he has proclaimed the inevitability of man’s further evolution to this level of consciousness. Now to go back to our basic question: how will this new consciousness change human life on earth? Let me begin with a brief quotation from one of Sri Aurobindo’s letters in which he explains what effect this consciousness will have on human life in general. It is likely that as the supramental principle evolved itself the evolution would more and more take another aspect—the Daivic nature would predominate, the Asuro-Rakshaso-Pishachic prakriti which now holds so large a place would more and more recede and lose its power. A principle of greater unity, harmony and light would emerge everywhere. It is not that the creation in the ignorance would be altogether abolished, but it would begin to lose much of its elements of pain and falsehood and would be more a progression from lesser to higher truth, from a lesser to a higher harmony, from a lesser to a higher light, than the reign of chaos and struggle, of darkness and error that we now perceive.[2] Each level of consciousness is a power. The mental consciousness, for example, is a power which has enabled us to take in the experience of the physical world, subject it to the processes of induction and deduction and reshape it. Not even the chimpanzee, which among the higher primates is closest to man, has been able to do this because it does not possess the mental consciousness which man has. Again, consider the acquisition of human language which is a complex means of communication. It has been shown that even when systematic efforts are made a chimpanzee’s capacity to acquire human language is extremely limited, may be a few 100 words and less than 1,000 sentences after several years of training. But a human child effortlessly acquires the language to which he is exposed by the time he is around four years old. This is once again because the human child has a mental consciousness. In the same way, the supramental consciousness will bring to us powers which will change human nature by breaking down its present limits. Its greatest promise is that it will enable us to change human nature at all levels. And there is no doubt that a radical change in human nature holds the key to our very survival on this planet. In Janus, one of the last books he wrote, Arthur Koestler lamented that humanity is a doomed species. He was convinced that the species suffers from a paranoid streak and this is seen in the way man has always used his powers to harm himself. Now with the acquisition of nuclear power he has acquired the awesome capability of destroying the whole of human species. And it may be only a few more decades before man actually succeeds in committing this final holocaust. Koestler attributed this to a fundamental flaw in the evolution of the human brain as maintained in the Papez-Maclean theory of emotions. This theory states that man has a tripartite brain structure; at the bottom he has a reptilian brain, on top of it the brain of a horse and on the topmost level, the human aspect, the neo-cortex. The two old brains have remained un-evolved for some reason while the neo-cortex has evolved tremendously during the last half a million years. As a result of this evolutionary confusion, our reasoning powers, which reside in the new brain are unable to control our instincts, passions and biological drives which are controlled by our reptilian and mammalian brains. Thus the raging fury of passionately held irrational beliefs and attachments drives us to savage behaviour while reason sits unable to control that part of our life. Sri Aurobindo spoke about an evolutionary crisis that humanity is facing today. He pointed out that in certain directions the mind has achieved enormous development but in others it stands bewildered and no longer knows the way. There is nothing in the mental consciousness that makes man look beyond the stress of economic and physical needs. He is presently engaged in cultivating a multiplication of new wants and an aggressive expansion of his collective ego. Science in the meanwhile has put into his hands great powers of the universal Force and has also made the life of humanity materially one, but what uses this universal Force is a little human ego, individual and communal. Whether we accept Sri Aurobindo’s analysis or Koestler’s analysis of the human predicament, it is clear that the human mind today stands arrested. Everybody is convinced that until human nature is changed there is no future for mankind. Koestler believes that human nature cannot be changed because the evolutionary flaw in the making of the brain cannot now be rectified, except partially through medication. But Sri Aurobindo takes this evolutionary impasse as an indication that a leap in to a higher consciousness has to be taken, beyond the mind to the supermind. He believes that with this new consciousness man will be able to do what the mental consciousness has been unable to do, namely, change human nature. Here is an example of what this might mean. More and more people have come to the conclusion that the limitations on human happiness are not primarily external limitations any more, they are inner limitations. If people still die today of malnutrition, and children in large numbers are crippled for life for lack of elementary health care and safe drinking water it is not because we do not have adequate resources to prevent these tragedies but because we do not have the heart and the will to share with our unfortunate brothers what we have in plenty. The limits of our happiness are essentially the inner ones—our narrowness, selfishness, ego, our greed and possessiveness and the tendency to exploit people who are weaker than us. The older spirituality recognised this, but the means it had were not adequate for transforming human nature completely and permanently. All that the religious teachings and moral exhortations have given us is the thin veneer of a satwic nature. But at the first opportunity, the beast in us is ready to come out and rule us. At present the grades of consciousness above the ordinary mind can only act as influences; they can indirectly influence the human mind and consciousness but cannot do more. Therefore, there is no permanent change in human nature yet. This explains why the efforts of the saints and the old spirituality have so far not produced permanent results. For this we have to grow into a greater spiritual consciousness—what Sri Aurobindo called the supramental consciousness. The supramental consciousness is a consciousness of unity, a consciousness that is not ego-bound like the mental consciousness. Harmony and oneness with all are natural to it because it is a spiritual consciousness. Just as the consciousness of a chimpanzee does not have a natural aptitude for acquiring a human language, the human mind too does not seem to have a natural aptitude for spiritual attributes. Only the supermind has a natural propensity for what are called the daivic qualities like love, brotherhood, charity and compassion. The manifestation of the supermind outwardly, visibly and physically, is a long process, or at least a process with a long preparation. The yoga-tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was aimed at hastening the descent of the supramental consciousness in the earth-atmosphere and the Mother has assured us that the new consciousness has descended. It is now a living force on earth just as the thinking mental consciousness and the higher mental consciousness are already at work here. Its effects on individuals and earth-life will be slowly worked out in the course of time just as the effects of the mental consciousness were worked out over time. During the initial stages a few human beings will succeed in acquiring the new consciousness and they will be the pioneers. In course of time an increasing number of people on earth will be able to manifest this consciousness. However, it is not likely to overpower the earth in a moment. All those who aspire for the transformation of consciousness will now find the earth-atmosphere more favourable for their progress. As time passes, more and more people will be able to acquire this consciousness and eventually a race of supramental beings will appear on this earth. Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the future is the vision of a divine life on earth. As he says in the concluding part of Savitri: Nature shall live to manifest secret God,The Spirit shall take up the human play,This earthly life become the life divine. Even among those who accept this vision there is the question: how soon will this change happen? Students of evolution have told us that evolution is continuing to accelerate and that wherever we are going, we are going there fast. Many who have watched the cross-catalytic progress in biology, atomic physics, energy sources, mobility and communication have come to the conclusion that we are today passing through a jump in evolution far more concentrated and intense and of far greater evolutionary importance than any we have so far seen. Those of us who are impatient to see the manifestation of the new consciousness would do well to remember that we are now on the threshold of an evolutionary leap as significant as the evolution of life from inanimate matter, which took billions of years. The change I have described above is not expected to take billions of years, but it may take centuries. On the other hand, for those of us who are sensitive to such things evidence is already gathering thick and fast indicating that the new force is at work in our midst. Finally, people often wonder whether this marvellous light of the new consciousness can ever really descend on our sordid earth. For many, Sri Aurobindo’s vision for man may appear more like a scenario in a fairy tale than in real life. As he himself said in Savitri:        A few shall see what none yet understands;       God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;       For man shall not know the coming till its hour       And belief shall be not till the work is done. Thus we must ask, can earthly life be made really perfect? I cannot do better than quote a few lines from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri which answer a similar scepticism: How sayst thou Truth can never light the human mind And Bliss can never invade the mortal’s heart Or God descend into the world he made? If in the meaningless Void creation rose, If from a bodiless Force Matter was born, If life could climb in the unconscious tree, Its green delight break into emerald leaves And its laughter of beauty blossom in the flower, If sense could wake in tissue, nerve and cell And Thought seize the grey matter of the brain, And soul peep from its secrecy through the flesh, How shall the nameless Light not leap on men, And unknown powers emerge from Nature’s sleep? Even now hints of a luminous Truth like stars Arise in the mind-mooned splendour of Ignorance; Even now the deathless Lover’s touch we feel: If the chamber’s door is even a little ajar, What then can hinder God from stealing in Or who forbid his kiss on the sleeping soul? Already God is near, the Truth is close: Because the dark atheist body knows him not, Must the sage deny the Light, the seer his soul?10   From an edited transcript of a talk delivered at the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, in September 2001. Originally printed in the book “India’s Spiritual Destiny: Its Inevitability and Potentiality” (2006).   Our deep gratitude to the Late Sri Mangesh V Nadkarni More of Nadkarniji’s talks & writings
Read More
Featured

A Hindu Upsurge

Part One There is undoubtedly a Hindu upsurge in the country today. But whether we seize the tide at its flood and use it to bring about a spiritual renaissance or let it peter out into a mere religious revival – this will decide the future of this country. There are many who see this upsurge as a strong mandate for a religious revival which, they hope, will lift the country from its present languid and self-destructive ways and put it on the path to fulfillment and glory. Ranged against them are those who decry the whole phenomenon as a regressive and unhealthy development. Many in this latter group are also convinced that all spirituality is obscurantism and they are therefore hostile to any attempt to see this as a call for the spiritual renaissance of the country. My aim here is not so much to take sides with the critics of this upsurge or with its champions as to see the whole phenomenon in a different light — the light of Sri Aurobindo. A spiritual civilization like India’s does not endure and progress by sticking to or reviving its old forms whether in religion, arts or socio-economic institutions but by breaking their mould and creating new ones which are appropriate to the changing times and true to its innate trend and genius. What is popularly known as Hinduism today is the religious manifestation of a spiritual civilization during the last 1100 years or so, generally recognized as the period of decline of this spiritual culture. Whether as a religion this manifestation is better or worse than other religions is a matter in which I am not interested at the moment. But why anybody who understands the genius of this culture would want to revive such an obsolete manifestation is beyond my comprehension. Therefore a Hindu religious revival is to my thinking an absurdity, and the sad thing is that many of us believe that we are fighting for this absurdity. Those who want to resurrect a particular manifestation of Hinduism, in this case a Medieval one, lose sight entirely of the predominantly spiritual nature of this culture. Some of their critics who cry foul at the phenomenon of this upsurge are those who mistrust spirituality and are convinced that India’s destiny is to be a faithful camp-follower of the grossly commercial, materialistic and insufficient Western civilization either of the currently buoyant American variety or of the obsolete and moribund communist variety. There were two important spiritual figures in the Indian renaissance movement – Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. They recognized the spirit as the truth of the Indian civilization and hoped for a renaissance of Indian spirituality. They worked for it not only because it is the soul of Indian culture and no true development in India can be based on any other foundation but also because they were convinced that it is the supreme gift India can make to the world to save it from chaos and destruction. One of the famous utterances of Sri Aurobindo, most relevant for our times, is: When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall rise, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. But there seems to be among some of us a strange reluctance, if not a feeling of embarrassment, in drawing attention to this statement. This is harmful because if those who understand what Sri Aurobindo meant by it do not speak up, those who do not fully understand it will exploit it to strengthen their agenda. In fact, Sri Aurobindo himself has explained what he meant by the terms “Hindu”, “Sanatana” and “Dharma”. About Mangesh Nadkarni Sri Nadkarni (1933-2007) was a professor of Linguistics, a thinker and scholar par excellence, a student and disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and a great exponent of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, especially Savitri.  It is our great privilege to publish Sri Nadkarni in our inaugural issue. Part 2
Read More
Featured

Hinduism and Sanatan Dharma

Part Two That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, it is the universal religion which embraces all religions. … This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations in philosophy. It is easy to twist a statement like this and jump to the conclusion that since Sri Aurobindo wanted Sanatana Dharma to be the one religion for the whole of mankind, he was a champion of the Hindu religion, even a Hindu revivalist. This is absolute nonsense since Sri Aurobindo condemned the very idea of one institutional religion for the whole world as “a grotesque creation of human unreason, the parent of so much intolerance, cruelty, obscurantism and aggressive fanaticism” and said that such an obsession had never been able to take hold of the free and supple mind of India. Sri Aurobindo regarded Hinduism primarily as the name of a civilization, of a set of values and not as a credal religion. As he once put it, “How can Hinduism be called a religion when it admits all beliefs, allowing even a kind of high-reaching atheism and agnosticism and permits all possible spiritual experiences, all kinds of religious adventures?” In his Foundations of Indian Culture, and also in The Human Cycle, he makes a clear distinction between two aspects of religion – religion as spirituality, the seeking for oneness with the Supreme Reality and with all one’s fellowmen, and religion as creed, dogmas and moral codes, which is formal religion. He never states that things which constitute formal religion are unnecessary. According to him they too are needed by man because the lower members of his being have to be exalted before they can be spiritualized. Thus an intellectual formula is needed by the thinking and reasoning mind, a ceremony is needed by the aesthetic part of our being, a set of moral codes is needed by man’s vital nature to purify and chasten it. But these things are aids and supports of religion, not its essence. Hinduism knew the purpose of these aids and never mistook them for the essence of religion. Thus it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavour of the human spirit. It is this spiritual aspect of this religious culture that Sri Aurobindo refers to as the Sanatana Dharma. But at the same time Sri Aurobindo never assumed, even for a moment, as some of us tend to do, that true spirituality is the exclusive turf of the Hindus. As the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s collaborator, once pointed out “Genuine spirituality is found in all religions. In every religion there are some who have evolved a high spiritual life.” It is ironical that the Hindu religionist and most of his critics both share in part the same misconception about the Hindu religious culture and fight over it. The Hindu religionist respects the great Rishis and founders of the spiritual culture of India out of deference for his ancestors and not because he understands and appreciates this heritage; he looks upon himself not so much as the inheritor of his great spiritual legacy but as the defender of credal Hinduism, its forms, ceremonies and temples, and of the socio-political institutions connected with this identity. This is the same part of the Hindu culture which his critics also see as the essential Hindu religion. In fact, this is the only aspect of Hinduism these critics understand because they are of the progressive rationalist persuasion. For them Hindu spirituality is some kind of folk belief, an irrational fantasy about soul-states and visions – in brief, gobbledygook of some kind. They are convinced that Hindu spirituality has been the bane of this country. Some of these progressive critics have no high opinion of the ancient culture of this country which has been nothing, as they see it, but a product of a series of invasions beginning with the Aryan and ending with the British and between these two the series of Islamic invasions about which they feel rather embarrassed. The secularist credo is that India had no civilization of its own; what she has is a gift of the Aryans who came from southern Europe, and then of the Mongol, Turkish and Afghan invaders and the final finishing touches were given, of course, by the British. Part 1Part 3
Read More
Featured

Aspects of Indian Nationalism

Part Three Indian nationalism, since the early years of the Indian renaissance, has undergone various mutations. K. D. Sethna, one of the finest scholars and thinkers this country has produced in our life time, has pointed out how the shock of sheer spirituality in the figure of Sri Ramakrishna, who summed up in his life the whole spiritual history of India, gave birth to Indian nationalism by kindling in the nation a consciousness of its own typical genius. The second phase of our nationalism was not directly spiritual but charged with indigenous history. The stress now was more on the collective soul of the country as felt in the traditional ideals and institutions, the characteristic customs and festivals. This nationalism was fostered by the great Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In the third phase, our nationalism became ethical as Mahatma Gandhi set up certain moral doctrines for the patriot’s guidance, chiefly the doctrines of non-violence and what he called Truth. Out of this came a fourth kind of nationalism. This brought the rationalism of the West and cut the ethical completely off from the mystical. This was the phase of our nationalism fostered by Jawaharlal Nehru. It was non-religious, wholly secular. During the early years of independence under Nehru’s patronage, India became a socialist, secular democracy and an intelligentsia favoring Dialectical Materialism and the Economic View of History entrenched themselves in our universities. Thus what started as a spiritual renaissance ended up as an anti-spiritual establishment controlling the press and the academic institutions. All these developments have brought us to a point when the traditional defenses of Indian culture have almost lost their hold over people. Multinationals and modern technology have encouraged the glut of Western cultural influences in the country. The ubiquitous TV has invaded the privacy of our bedroom, kitchen and the drawing room. The mass media is glamorizing and glorifying the western lifestyle which has, in the long run, such deleterious effects as the homogenization of human wants and giving rise to unachievable expectations. What we call globalization results in the spread of a single culture – the same wants, the same institutions, the same sets of values everywhere. Part 2Part 4
Read More
Featured

Aspects of Modern Culture

Part Four The culture of money is obliterating all other cultures; even spirituality itself has become a commodity that can be sold and bought and even mass-produced during weekend retreats in 5-star hotels. This spread of the mono-culture of brand names, blue jeans and stereos is taken as raising ‘living standards’ but this threatens to devastate the inner landscape of art, culture and spirituality. This threatens to be a disaster of an even greater magnitude than the destruction of our ecology. Global business presents a challenge to spirituality everywhere because the mono-culture it promotes is a materialistic culture. With its sponsoring of junk food, movies saturated with sex and violence and a naïve adulation of athletes and movie stars as the most adorable and desirable human types, it impresses on the minds of people only two of the four purusharthas, namely, kama and artha, enjoyment and the making of money to the total neglect of dharma (righteous living) and moksha (spiritual liberation). Sri Aurobindo was never dazzled by this Western culture. Granted that he lived in the West at a time when the external life had not yet been transformed by technology to the extent it has been since, but he knew the spell of this culture and the direction in which it was moving. His critique of this culture is worth reading even today, more than nearly 90 years or so after it was written in the Bande Mataram days. He said: Was life always so trivial, always so vulgar, always so loveless, pale and awkward as the Europeans have made it? This well-appointed comfort oppresses me. The perfection of machinery will not allow the soul to remember that it is not itself a machine. Is this then the end of the long march of human civilization, this spiritual suicide, this quiet petrifaction of soul into matter? Was the successful businessman that grand culmination of manhood toward which evolution was striving? After all, if the scientific view is correct, why not? An evolution which started with the protoplasm and flowered in the orangutan and the chimpanzee, may well rest satisfied with having created hat, coat and trousers, the British Aristocrat, the American Capitalist and the Parisian Apache. For these I believe are the chief triumphs of the European enlightenment to which we bow our heads. For these Augustus created Europe, Charlemagne re-founded civilization, Louis XIV regulated society, Napoleon systematized the French Revolution. For these Goethe thought, Shakespeare imagined and created, St. Francis loved, Christ was crucified. What bankruptcy! What a beggary of things that were rich and noble! It is a very pleasant inferno they have created in Europe, a hell not of torments but of pleasures, of lights and carriages, of balls and dances and suppers, of theatres and cafes and music halls, of libraries and clubs and Academies, of National Galleries and Exhibitions, of factories, shops, banks and Stock Exchanges. But it is hell all the same, not the heaven of which the saints and the poets dreamed, the new Jerusalem, the golden city. London and New York are the holy cities of the new religion, Paris its golden Paradise of Pleasure.” The onslaught of the aggressive Western pop culture that is sweeping all over the world, has already caused an upsurge in religions, particularly in Islamic and Christian countries. “Christian fundamentalism in America itself,” as David Frawley reports, “is a pop religion of TV preachers accompanied by Country and Western singers, with instantaneous conversion at football stadiums or even in front of the television, with wild prophecies, and make believe miracles. Its preachers are often found to be involved in financial and sexual improprieties of various types. Such religion is hardly the piety of the Middle Ages and is accompanied by little soul searching. And no real spiritual practices, much less any asceticism.” Frawley also mentions in this context Islamic fundamentalism which he describes as “more militant and traditional, and perhaps more dangerous as it does not hesitate to resort to violence, not only in Islamic countries but all over the world.” The fundamentalist reaction may have a justifiable cause – the fear that with its lack of spiritual values Western pop culture can change life into a spiritual and moral wasteland. But religious fundamentalism is not a proper answer to the aggressive Western pop culture. Religious fundamentalism is an anti-evolutionary force because it makes the religious cultures regressive and sterile. In fact, as David Frawley points out, it makes materialism look more human and progressive by countering it with a force of superstition. The Hindu revivalist movement so far has not become fundamentalist in its mainstream. This in itself is a miracle when we consider that very grave provocations abound. Take, for instance, the peculiar role the English language press in India has been playing in this regard. Time and again, it has raised certain issues in a way that provokes and incites the Hindu revivalist; it has at the same time tended to marginalize the influence of the spiritual leaders of the Indian renaissance such as Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. It has thus the peculiar distinction of turning Hindus into fundamentalists in their own country. Some credit for this should also go to our electoral politics. The magic wand that is used to belabor the majority community in India is called secularism. Part 3Part 5
Read More
Featured

Secularism

Part Five The one country in the world that has been traditionally hospitable to the followers of all religions has now to learn lessons in secularism in its new form. Secularism that is cherished by our press is the noble concept that denies the majority community even the normal democratic rights of protest. If Hindus protest against a film like “WATER” and agitate to get it banned for the reason that it offends the Hindu psyche by citing certain quotes from the Shastras and giving them denigrating meaning not supported by the Shastras, this protest is seen to be non-secular because it goes against somebody’s freedom to denigrate Hinduism, goes against the freedom of the press. But the same press doesn’t object to the banning of a book by Salman Rushdie because it offends the sentiments of the minority community. Ideally, no book or film should be banned for such reasons but there should be avenues for protest for the minority community as well as for the majority community. The legitimate interests of no community should be trampled upon. Any talk of an Indian cultural nationalism or of working towards a Uniform Civil Code is branded as communal while openly religious and caste-based parties that create religious and social divisions are certified as secular. The Government is applauded for its secularism when it diverts Hindu temple funds for its own uses, but any questioning of the accountability of overseas funding to the mosques and churches is fiercely attacked as communal and non-secular. When the supreme court passes a verdict not palatable to a minority community, the secularist Government overturns it by a legislative fiat as seen in the Shah Bano case. The plight of 400,000 Kashmir Hindus rendered refugees in their own country does not disturb our national conscience but any call for a review of the temporary Article 370 is not tolerated. Pope Paul II chooses India to announce that a “great harvest of faith will be reaped” in Asia in the Third Millennium. Conversions on a large scale go on even today because India is still comparatively a poor country, and there is a liberal flow of funds into the country to support this proselytising activity. One could just go on listing these provocations. But if you are a Hindu, pluralism comes naturally to you, and you cannot hate enough to be a fundamentalist, except when you are caught up in a mass frenzy. Otherwise in a country where dozens of innocent people are killed through bomb explosions every other day by Islamic fundamentalists, the reaction from the Hindu majority community has been so far very mild — a bandh at the most on most occasions. I would be the last person to suggest we emulate Israel in this respect. I am only trying to show how the majority community in our country feels attacked from all sides and is yet doing its best not to get provoked into taking retaliatory action. There are of course fringe groups among Hindus who have been clamoring for strong measures of retaliation. In this connection the upheaval in Gujarat comes to mind. No Hindu in his right mind would approve of what happened after the Godhra carnage but I would like to leave with you some words of K.D. Sethna. He was a political analyst with Sri Aurobindo as his mentor, and often commented on national and international events in the years immediately after February 1949. These words have a relevance even today, more than fifty years after they were written: People who call themselves progressive look upon all revivalist tendencies as if they were the plague; they understand these tendencies to be pure and unadulterated communalism. Intolerant Hindu sectarianism on the rampage is their notion of whoever seems to be a revivalist. It must be admitted that there is a good number of Hindu bigots and we cannot sufficiently emphasize their harmfulness. But two things must be kept in mind when we condemn them. Most of these bigots are a reaction to the fanaticism that was the father of the Muslim League and therefore the progenitor of Pakistan. They are the unnatural consequences of a most unnatural phenomenon and to a large extent a sort of defense mechanism against a menace that has kept on growing. To discourage them is indeed our duty but if our stand is not equally strong against the root cause of their upsurgence we fail to be realists. To expect that no section of the Hindu community would indulge in reprisals for acts of injustice and brutality committed against the Hindus in Pakistan (and in Godhra in recent times even in our own country) is simply to be ignorant of human nature: the way to avoid retaliations is not merely to preach Gandhism to the masses or to punish those who take the law in their own hands but to add to all genuinely preventive or deterrent measures an attempt to stop the occasions for the provocation. It can’t be denied that among people in general in the majority Hindu community, a certain religiosity is on the rise. People are becoming more “traditional”, they have become more pilgrimage-minded and perform ritualistic worship with greater fervor and at a greater cost than did people of my generation. The pomp and show with which certain festivals are observed, such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, is another instance of this. Jagarans are held in which playback singers and prominent people from the world of entertainment are invited to participate. Consider how many TV channels are now dedicated to this religionism. The music market is flooded with renderings of popular devotional songs, chantings of the Gayatri, Mrityunjaya jaap and other mantras. Luxury liners are chartered for holding the recitation of the Ramayan Katha and the Bhagavat Puran on the high seas. The protests launched against beauty contests, fashion shows, against the observance of Valentine’s Day etc. by certain Hindu groups show the fundamentalist facet of this revival. These are revivalists who seek to revive old forms of Hinduism that we should really be getting rid of in haste. Very often there is a tendency to lose sight of the spiritual significance of things and take things literally. Take cow protection, for example. The Vedas give a most honorable place to the cow but then the popular cow-protection movement has very little to do with the Vedas. The Vedic cow is not the four-legged animal which we keep ill-treating all the time. If there are sound arguments in favor of sparing every cow, let us begin with bullocks and spare them the cruelty of yoking them to carts. Why be partial to cows? Why not extend the same protection to dogs and other domestic animals? The Vedas revere and worship cows, but then in the Vedas the cow “gou” is the symbol of illumination in the human mind. The two fruits of the Vedic sacrifice are the wealth of cows and the wealth of horses, symbolizing mental illumination and vital energy respectively. It is not enough to be passionate about reviving Hinduism, we must know what part of Hinduism is worth reviving. Consider how a genuine impulse to go back to the foundations of our traditions peters out as a revivalist gesture. A revealing instance of this is the University Grant Commission’s move to introduce Vedic Astrology as a subject of study in Indian universities and the loud protests raised against this move by the country’s guardians of rationality. Whether Astrology is an academic discipline or not is a question I do not wish to discuss now. I merely wish to point out that the UGC should have recommended and strongly supported the study of what may be called the Traditional Systems of Knowledge which includes astrology because there is so much in diverse fields of traditional knowledge that we need to understand. In civil engineering, metal technologies, textiles, shipping and ship building, water harvesting systems, forest management, farming techniques, traditional medicinal systems — in each one of these subjects India has a fund of traditional knowledge which for long has been dismissed as mere folklore and superstition. We can see from the planning of complex towns of the Saraswati-Sindhu civilisation to Delhi’s Qutab Minar that India’s indigenous technologies were very sophisticated in design, planning, water supply, traffic flow, natural air-conditioning, complex stone work, and construction engineering. Indian textile exports were legendary. Roman archives contain official complaints about massive cash drainage because of imports of fine Indian muslin. Our navigation system was famous throughout the world because India had a thriving ocean trade system for centuries before the Europeans arrived on the scene. You will be surprised to know that Vasco da Gama’s ships, which discovered the trade route to India, were captained by a Gujarati sailor. The argument in favour of taking up seriously the study of our Traditional Knowledge Systems is not patriotism or false pride in being Indian. It is that these systems are eco-friendly, and allow sustainable growth. The Western life style, as is well-known by now, not only destroys local cultures but gives rise to unachievable expectations. People everywhere want to live like Americans. But it is not realized that the capital required to enable billions of poor humans to live like Americans does not simply exist in the world. Americans can live the way they do because to them ‘cheap labour’ is available somewhere else, and they can buy natural resources cheap from somewhere else. When Gandhi was asked whether he would like India to develop a lifestyle similar to that of England, he said in reply something to this effect: The British had to plunder the Earth to achieve their lifestyle. Given India’s much larger population, it would require the plunder of many planets to achieve the same. To return to our main point, the argument for returning to the traditional Indic systems of knowledge is not any emotional attachment to our past or any kind of chauvinism but a study of these systems is what we need, what the world needs for the economic betterment of the world in a holistic manner. Thus it is unfortunate that on the whole the current Hindu resurgence has not brought about any revival of interest in the great achievements of the Hindu civilization. The sophisticated and sublime philosophy of the Upanishads, the mathematics of Pingala or of Brahmagupta, the sophisticated pluralism of Vedanta, the literary achievements of Kalidasa or Sudraka — all these like our traditional knowledge systems have failed to excite us. It has been recognized that ours is a civilization that invented games like the chess and produced classics not only on Moksha and Dharma but also on Artha and Kama – political economy and sex-education. The adoration of Rama and of Hanuman and the exploitation of the spell of these legends on the mass mind for grass-root political work may have something to be said for it. But the entire thrust of the Hindu resurgence must not end with ‘temple-politics’; it should not end up with it being identified with groups of unquestioning idolaters and delirious devotees. Part 4Part 6
Read More
Featured

The Higher Hinduism

Part Six There are two Hinduisms; one which takes its stand on the kitchen and seeks its Paradise by cleaning the body; another which seeks God, not through the cooking pot and the social convention, but in the soul. The latter is also Hinduism and it is a good deal older and more enduring than the other; it is the Hinduism of Bhishma and Sri Krishna, of Shankara and Chaitanya, the Hinduism which exceeds Hindustan, was from old and will be forever, because it grows eternally through the aeons — Sri Aurobindo It was in a time of calamity, of contraction, under external pressure that Hinduism fled from the inner temple and hid itself in the kitchen. Do we want to revive the Hinduism of the kitchen or the Hinduism of the soul? That is the question we have to answer today. But at the same time, I have a word for those in the majority community in the country who hesitate even to describe themselves as Hindu for whatever reason. We have seen that Hinduism is not a religion in the Semitic sense but a term descriptive of a spiritual civilization. Those who were Hindu in their spirit and traditions made this land, built this civilization which has been wide enough to welcome in terms of equality the Muslim and the Christian, the persecuted Zoroastrian and, in more recent times, the persecuted Bahai’s and the Dalai Lama and his followers. As Sethna once pointed out, a great truth is enshrined in the statement that India is the land of Hinduism. If we forget this truth and seek to create a country with all psychological and metaphysical color of Hinduism wiped off, we shall seriously thwart India’s growth and make the nation either a mediocrity or a monstrosity instead of a light to the whole world. Sri Aurobindo not only made this distinction between Hinduism of the kitchen and of the soul, he went even one step beyond this. He said that what we call the truer and higher Hinduism is also of two kinds, sectarian and non-sectarian, disruptive and synthetic, that which seeks one aspect and that which seeks the All. The first is born out of a rajasic or tamasic attachment to an idea, an experience, an opinion, or a set of opinions, a temperament, an attitude, a particular Guru, a chosen Avatar. This attachment is intolerant, arrogant, proud of little knowledge, scornful of knowledge that is not its own. The higher Hinduism is the spiritual core of Hinduism which rises beyond theology and scriptures, metaphysical certainties, and cultural determinisms. The Truth that India has sought to serve through Hinduism is the truth of the presence of the Divine in the human. This it regards as the master-key to human progress and fulfillment. It is unfortunately true, as I have already mentioned above, that there are grave provocations that surround us which are manifestations of religious fundamentalism in our own country and in some of the neighboring countries. Many may feel that the path indicated by Sri Aurobindo, the path of higher Hinduism which rises beyond theology, scriptures and temples, is too idealistic, too steep a climb for most of us to manage it. The ruthless persecution of the Hindus for several centuries during the Islamic rule has traumatized the Hindu psyche. This hurt cannot be healed by suppressing facts. The English language press and certain political parties have not only suppressed Islamic history, but they have also exploited Islamic religious identity and this has had well-known social and political reverberations. The Hindu community feels that on the one hand it is being asked to forget completely the atrocities committed against it by the Islamic regime for nearly a thousand years, which the historian Will Durant has described as the “bloodiest story in human history”, and that on the other, events like the recent bomb blasts in Mumbai are sought to be explained away as acts of revenge for what happened in Gujarat in the aftermath of the Godhra train-burning. The trauma that the Hindu civilization suffered for nearly a thousand years cannot be easily wished away. It is simply unimaginable what would happen if the majority community too sought its own share of revenge for almost a millennium of persecution. It must be realized that ‘revenge’ is a dangerously ugly motive and journalists must be careful in using it to bail out acts of certain communities only. To say the least, this is not the way to heal old civilizational wounds. In the name of preserving the identity of the Muslim community, our secular leaders have ghettoised the community and given them a mindset suspicious of the majority community. This has prevented them from joining the mainstream and therefore deprived them of the economic and political benefits of social integration. The Hindus and the Muslims both have to face together the depth of degradation and intolerance of the Islamic times in Indian history. Neither Hindus not Muslims benefit from a censorship of any critique of Islam and Islamic rule in India. Muslims should see how most of their ancestors were forcibly converted from Hinduism. If they understand their history and ancestry, it may be easier for them to assimilate into the mainstream of Indian society. They will then realize that their lot is cast in India, and Mother India has taken them to her bosom as much as it has taken the Hindu and the Christian. They might then find it less glamorous to identify themselves with the barbaric Muslim invaders from outside than with their own countrymen with whom their lot is cast. The Hindus too at the same time should not lose track of their civilizational goals by giving in to the feelings of vindictiveness and tit for tat. They should face the reality of today. It is true that putting a veil on one’s wounds does not help in healing them. But there is a balm for this hurt and that is to allow themselves to be washed by the purifying waters of their spiritual culture. Hatred is an altogether alien concept for this ancient civilization. Political adjustments and horse-trading will not eradicate the ill-will among the Hindus and Muslims in our country. An attitude of weakness and cowardice will not conciliate our Muslim brethren. Nor is the nationalism appropriate for the times of Shivaji appropriate for today. We should remember, as Sri Aurobindo has pointed out, that Mother India has given a permanent place to our Muslim brother too, in her bosom. Hinduism must cultivate strength, the strength needed to stop the religious bully and the religious hooligan in his tracks. But it must also acquire the strength needed to reject the temptations of the religious and cultural ego which seeks retaliation as justification for wounds inflicted on us in our history. This is a challenge no other religion or culture so far has met successfully but it is my hope and belief that the Hindu has the inner resources to meet this challenge successfully. Only we the descendants of Vasishtha and Yajnavalkya can attempt this almost impossible feat and may even succeed in it. Vishwamitra, as the Puranic legend goes, was responsible for the death of one hundred sons of Vasishtha, and yet Vasishtha showed the strength not only to forgive him but also to lift him to the rare heights of a Brahmarshi. Religion is one of the most attractive masks of the collective ego and it may be the last hurdle the human mind has to transcend to rise to the new age of planetary or supramental consciousness promised by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is easy to dump religion and with it all its spiritual commitment, and many in the West have done this successfully. But to remain committed to the spiritual goals while discarding the religious packaging in which it has come to us is very difficult. For our own sake, and for the sake of the world, we will have to take up this challenge. We don’t have to wait until others are ready for this great leap forward and upward. This is the only way to save the world from nuclear jihads or crusades. India will have to hearken to this call of her destiny. Do we have the faith in ourselves and in our destiny that Sri Aurobindo tried to instill into his fellowmen? Let me conclude with these inspiring words of his: This great and ancient nation was once the fountain of human light, the apex of human civilization., the exemplar of courage and humanity, the perfection of good Government and settled society, the mother of all religions, the teacher of all wisdom and philosophy. It has suffered much at the hands of inferior civilizations and more savage peoples; it has gone down into the shadow of night and tasted often of the bitterness of death. Its pride has been trampled into the dust and its glory has departed. Hunger and misery and despair have become the masters of this fair soil, these noble hills, these ancient rivers, these cities whose life story goes back into prehistoric night. But do you think that therefore God has utterly abandoned us and given us up for ever to be a mere convenience for the West, the helots of its commerce, and the feeders of its luxury and pride? We are still God’s chosen people and all our calamities have been but a discipline of suffering, because for the great mission before us prosperity was not sufficient, adversity had also its training; to taste the glory of power and beneficence and joy was not sufficient, the knowledge of weakness and torture and humiliation was also needed; it was not enough that we should be able to fill the role of the merciful sage and the beneficent king, we had also to experience in our own persons the feelings of the outcaste and the slave. But now that lesson is learnt and the time for our resurgence is come. And no power shall stay that uprising and no opposing interest shall deny us the right to live, to be ourselves, to set our seal once more upon the world. Part 5
Read More
Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this