If Gandhi is the Father of Divided India, then Sri Aurobindo is the Father of Akhanda Bharat or Undivided India. Or shall we call him our Rashtrapitamah? For Akhanda Bharat is truly the vision of Sri Aurobindo. He enunciated this clearly in his message broadcast by All India Radio on August 15, 1947.
If Swaraj was a call to arms by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Vipin Chandra Pal and Sri Aurobindo, eventually fulfilled on India’s independence, his dream of a united India was the aspiration to ensure that India fulfil her destiny to its utmost.
If Swaraj was important because without independence, a nation or a people does not have the honor, self-reliance and self-respect to pursue their own dharma, the breakup of India into several nations yet severely inhibits her completest flowering.
It did not matter at all that the demand to be utterly free of the British split the Indian National Congress (INC) into two wings. For, as people often forget nowadays, the highest integrity of the nation was far more important than the integrity of a political party.
It also did not matter that this war-cry would turn the British against the political leadership of INC, especially the extremists, and soon their key leaders and activists would be tried, deported, imprisoned or executed. Nor did it matter that after the repressive action of the British government, the revolutionary fervor that was spreading across the nation was quelled and seemingly crushed.
For the mantra had been given. Vande Mataram had become our national song. And the word had been planted in the hearts of our people. It is true that it took another 40 years for freedom to become a reality but a decisive action in our national struggle had been taken. The invocation had been inevitable the moment it was uttered. As a seed becoming a tree once implanted and nurtured is only a matter of time, Swaraj too was a realized fact at the moment of conception and enunciation. Gandhi came much later, to be credited for giving us the freedom that was already on its way.
In any case, our Swaraj is not complete, Sri Aurobindo says. For this is only a physical freedom, that too precarious and under siege by the gathering negative forces of the world. True freedom will come only when the nation articulates its dharma clearly and starts living it. And it will be facilitated when the partition of India is reversed.
And he says, in a modest self-effacing manner, “August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position.”
And then, his first dream that, to me, is the clearest articulation of Akhanda or Undivided Bharat, “The first of these dreams was a revolutionary movement which would create a free and united India. India today is free but she has not achieved unity. At one moment it almost seemed as if in the very act of liberation she would fall back into the chaos of separate States which preceded the British conquest. But fortunately it now seems probable that this danger will be averted and a large and powerful, though not yet a complete union will be established. Also, the wisely drastic policy of the Constituent Assembly has made it probable that the problem of the depressed classes will be solved without schism or fissure. But the old communal division into Hindus and Muslims seems now to have hardened into a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled for ever or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Let us hope that that may come about naturally, by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose. In this way unity may finally come about under whatever form—the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance. But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India’s future.”
But the dream of United India will not be accomplished until the other conditions are not fulfilled, until we who love India do not realize who She is and do not awaken to who we are. For we are not only her children, we are Her body, mind and emerging soul.
And Sri Aurobindo predicts accurately, “Another dream, the spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India’s spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice.”
And then, he describes the movement he sees happening globally which brings all of it together, which, if it happens, will create the conditions for India’s vast unification and establish Her people in truth. “The final dream was a step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.
“This is still a personal hope and an idea, an ideal which has begun to take hold both in India and in the West on forward-looking minds. The difficulties in the way are more formidable than in any other field of endeavour, but difficulties were made to be overcome and if the Supreme Will is there, they will be overcome. Here too, if this evolution is to take place, since it must proceed through a growth of the spirit and the inner consciousness, the initiative can come from India and, although the scope must be universal, the central movement may be hers.
“Such is the content which I put into this date of India’s liberation; whether or how far this hope will be justified depends upon the new and free India.”
It must be said here that lacking this clear vision of the spiritual reality of India, Gandhi erred grievously several times in his political career. His embrace of Khilafat movement, support and appeasement of Jinnah, dismissal of Bose, rejection of Cripps Mission, and, the biggest blunder of them all, making Nehru the Prime Minister of India against the democratic wishes of his own party and leadership.
And it is relevant too to note here that Gandhi’s vision is dead. And will soon be smudge on the highway of our bhavishya. His economics were impractical, defense policies immature, unrealistic and enervating, ethics rigid, moralistic and self-righteous, understanding of Sanatan Dharma limited and politics harmful to the nation immediately and in the long run. Much damage was done to the polity by his autocratic policies which were smugly continued by Nehru to our tremendous detriment.
It was only the quiet force and tapasya of Sri Aurobindo that kept our nation together through Gandhi’s depredations and stayed focused on the larger picture and the longer duration when India would begin to recover from the hands of true or fake Gandhis. We are here today, free and capable of writing our own fate, due to Sri Aurobindo. And we have it in our hands to give our freedom a greater completion if we heed his message and begin to envision what he had dreamed for all of us.