Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mingling of cultures produces caricatures

The multi-level stage at the ongoing Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav at IGNCA has a curious combination of structures. This tendency in India for "mingling of cultures" at times produces caricatures. The fusion dance items presented, yesterday, also seemed to be failures. The backdrop, however, reminded some of the famous architectural blendings attempted in the past:

1. [Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from traditional Indian palace architecture.]

2. [The Secretariat Building was designed by the prominent Britisharchitect Herbert Baker in Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture. They have broad corridors and each building is topped by a giant dome, while each wings end with colonnaded balcony. Much of the building is in classical architectural style, yet it incorporated from Mughal and Rajasthani architecture style and motifs in its architecture. These are visible in the use of Jali, perforated screens, to protect from scorching sun and monsoon rains of India. Another feature of the building is a dome-like structure known as the Chatri, a design unique to India]

3. [The Ramakrishna temple at the Belur Math is designed to "celebrate the diversity of Indian Religions" and resembles a temple, a mosque, a church if seen from different positions. The ground plan is in the shape of Christian cross. The central dome is derived from European architecture of the Renaissance period. The high entrance with their lofty towers is like a South Indian Gopuram and the pillars on both sides represent Buddhistic architectural style. The windows and balconies inside the temple draw upon the Rajput (Hindu) and Mughal (Islamic) style of north India. The three umbrella-like domes on the top built in Rajput-Moghul styles give an idea of thatched roofs of the village Kamarpukur. The circular portion of the entrance is an intermingling of Ajanta style with Hindu architecture]

4. [Triveni was one of the first buildings by noted American architect, Joseph Allen Stein (1957-1977) in India, who also designed several important building in New Delhi, likeIndia International Centre and India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road. Designed in modern architecture style, the complex is noted for its "multiple spaces for multiple purposes" and use of jali work (stone lattices), which was to become Stein's hallmark.] 

In this context, what Godwin wrote a decade back comes to mind:

[Savitri Era Open Forum: I do not believe in "cafeteria style" spirituality Dec 30, 2006 - The Absurdity of Absolute Relativity posted by Gagdad Bob. I am as comfortable in a Catholic or Orthodox service as I am in a Vedanta or Jewish temple, so long as they radiate the sacred. However, I am definitely not "eclectic." I do not believe in "cafeteria style" spirituality. It is more like being able to appreciate, say, Arvo Part, Dexter Gordon, Merle Haggard, and James Brown. Each is a musical "avatar" who conveys real musical light, but I wouldn't want to blend them. One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin at 12/29/2006 06:44:00 AM Posted at 10:25 AM]

Sri Aurobindo wrote The Synthesis of Yoga and enunciated Integral Yoga. His philosophy has aptly been characterised as the meeting of the East and the West. May the spirit of human unity and World Union pervade the whole globe. [TNM55]

Misc. References:

The Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo - Page xi
Rāmacandra Miśra - 1998 - ‎Preview
In the same 'way, there is a meeting of the Vedantic and Tantric thought in his system. His philosophy combines in itself the best elements of Indian and Western thought, both ancient and modern. SriAurobindo has reinterpreted and recreated Indian religious and philosophical thought and the modern Western idea of ...

Integral Education Thought and Practice - Page 6
R.n.pani - 1987 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
On December 8, 1907 he presided over a separate meeting of the Nationalists at Midnapore. But the Surat Congress held by the end of December that year marks an epoch in Sri Aurobindo's life as much the life of the National Congress, for it was here that the Congress was split into two groups-the moderates and the ...

The Meeting of the East and the West in Sri Aurobindo's ...
1956 - ‎No preview

Journeys East: 20th Century Western Encounters with Eastern ...
... also meeting Aurobindo and the Mother.31 Krishna Prem is interesting for several reasons: he spoke Hindi and Bengali fluently, achieved some competency in Sanskrit and wrote several commentaries, in strictly orthodox vein, on the Upanishads and the Gita; he rigorously adhered to his renunciate vows and lived a highly ...

The Antithesis of Yoga - Page 262
Jocelyn - 2009 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Roslyn went the next morning to a Pour Tous (all Auroville) meeting under the Banyan.It was hard for ... People from all over the world had come to Auroville to participate on the land owned by the SriAurobindo Society, or on new lands that they could buy and donate to the Sri Aurobindo Society, develop, and leave. The Sri ...

Indian Philosophy in English: From Renaissance to Independence
Nalini Bhushan, ‎Jay L. Garfield - 2011 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
References Sri Aurobindo. (1949). The Life Divine. Pondicherry: Sri ... “Aurobindo's Concept of Llā and the Problem of Evil,” International Philosophical Quarterly 16: 3, pp. 315–329. Burtt, (1956). “East and West in Sri ... The Meeting of East and West in Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy. Pondsichery: Sri AurobindoAshram. Odin, S.

Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language
For full-length expositions of Savitri, see Aurobindo's Letters on Savitri, 29:725–816; Iyengar,Aurobindo; A. B. Purani, Sri Aurobindo's Savitri: An Approach and a Study ... and Athenian than to the Anglo-Saxon, but owing to the accident of British domination, our intellects have been carefully nurtured on a purely English diet.

Combining Indian and Western Spiritual Psychology: Applications to Health and Social Renewal
D Oman, NN Singh - Psychological Studies, 2016
... spiritual experiences. Exemplars of this mode of knowing include many religious founders and mystics, such as the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Plotinus, Ramana Maharshi, Saint Tuka¯ra¯ma, Mahatma Gandhi, and Sri Aurobindo. All ...

[HTML] The Info List-Dandi March
L Irwin - (dandi march) The SALT MARCH, also known as the DANDI MARCH and the DANDI SATYAGRAHA, was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India initiated by ...
[PDF] Lifestyle Change as Climate Strategy
D Nissen
... The world belongs to Man. Oil is here for us to use. Spiritual • “I am part of the [planet] protecting itself.” – John Seed • “We are on the brink of an evolutionary leap in consciousness.” – Sri Aurobindo Large Footpring • I want my MTV and like my campus' . ...

[HTML] Social contract
H Grotius, T Hobbes, J Rawls
Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing - eBooks.
Women Architects and Modernism in India: Narratives and contemporary practices
M Desai - 2016

The conundrum of communalism - The Pioneer › state-editions
3 mins ago - ... and there was a tendency towards a mingling of cultures, even some heroic attempts were made to discover or create a common religion built out of these two apparently irreconcilable faiths,” says Sri Aurobindo.

The New Indian Express-1 hour ago
While Sri Aurobindo handed over to her the Karmayogin's charge beforeleaving for Chandernagore and then Pondicherry, Tagore addressed her as “Lokmata”.

The New Indian Express-1 hour ago
In one of his memorable essays titled 'The Ego and the Realities' scripted in 1939, Sri Aurobindo wrote that “it is not easy for the customary mind of man, always ...

He's going to Kolkata to visit a friend, a batchmate from Insead who runs the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Culture in the city. For the most part though, his weekends ...

The Daily Star-17-Oct-2016
From the Neo-platonic sages like Plotinus to modern Indian Sri Aurobindo or Swami Vivekananda we see all but the same reference of the ancient mystic ...

Daily News & Analysis-12-Oct-2016
"So long as war does not become psychologically impossible, it will remain or, if banished for a while, return," wrote Sri Aurobindo in an April 1916 essay, The ...

New Straits Times Online-10-Oct-2016
He stated that Gandhi proved to the world the might of non-violence and ... Madan Lal Dhingra, Veer Savarkar, Mangal Pandey, Aurobindo and many more ...

Daily Nation-08-Oct-2016
... Gandhi (centre), also known as Mahatma Gandhi, in Bombay (now Mumbai), ... Rabindranath Tagore and spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo are there, as are the ...

(Pics TNM 2016: ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ organised by Ministry of Culture at IGNCA, New Delhi)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Patience, perseverance, and persistent vigilance

Be it politics, philosophy, or literature, there is no escape from the historical perspective. For any paper, setting forth the background, at the outset, is a must. But what starts as a mapping exercise can become a trap for many. One can fall in love with the flowers on the way instead of proceeding ahead for tasting the fruit at the end the journey. So, the key is perseverance and persistent vigilance. From the academic or professional point of view, any close study has its own worth and reward. But, from life's point of view, no room for such luxury. 

If one is fortunate to arrive at The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, early, then half the trouble is over. Otherwise, those who come from other streams spend whole of their lives comparing. Then, there are various sections among Sri Aurobindo's admirers who prefer the straightjacket of poetry, politics, or education. They too fail to internalise the spirit of his message on the whole. Another set of people who become very spirited to open their Psychic Being or enter into the Supramental get frustrated within a year or two and open their own Soul-shops. So, again, patience is the most enduring virtue and companion.

The problem with the people of my generation (I turned 61 on October 12, 2016) is that our dream of Development and Nation Building coincided with Sri Aurobindo's vision of The Life Divine. Things seemed so straightforward as if milk and honey will flow within a decade or two. But all those stand shattered today. Marxist rhetoric that inflated our sense of aesthetics proved to be stuffed with empty shibboleths. And to add to the catastrophe, we are saddled with Hindutva, today, that is obscurantist and devoid of any sensible response.

Thus, the challenge is threefold; and the first and formost is trying to discover the highest inspiration and source of satisfaction within the writings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo with the firm conviction that there is nothing better than this. This is in pure material terms and one needs to rummage through as much research findings as possible to constantly establish it before oneself as well as others. Most interrogations of human architecture are interdisciplinary now and transcending one's intellectual boundaries has become the most urgent task. So, along with physical culture, aggrandising intellectual muscle must receive focus.

The second aspect is derivative. What one finds for oneself should reach the younger generation. When I started writing here in 2005, the feeling was that people can discover good knowledge sources on their own. But, today, those optimism and enthusiasm have vanished. So, the classroom situation is important and introducing Sri Aurobindo's diverse range of output in curriculum should be taken up as an action point. Needless to mention that any kind of Westphobia is antithetical to, not only the Integral spirit of Sri Aurobindo, but also an open and honest quest for knowledge.

The third is crucial but paradoxical. On Twitter, I encounter any number of educated Indians with an admirable grasp on an array of subjects but happen to be shy of any reasonable foray into Sri Aurobindo. They can't be taken back to classrooms and they are too full to learn anything new or imbibe a new perspective. Being Hindutva votaries or belonging to the so-called RW, they are aware about Sri Aurobindo but in all probability, just a caricature or, at best, a thumbnail sketch. 

Many of them have built up a good reputation as intellectuals and the spin they instal percolate effortlessly. There are about a dozen quotations from Sri Aurobindo which are used ad nauseam to prove their own opinions. How to tackle this incorrigible set of people is a vast challenge. Important to remember that they are the ones who are going to influence policy decisions in the future. The Congress and the Left have let us down in the past and if we miss this opportunity, then it'd be a painful wait for another half-a-century. [TNM55]

Misc. References: › homer-an...
... War which happened more than three thousand years ago. The Iliad was written by Homer a few centuries after the siege of Troy. In the 20th century, Sri Aurobindo, the great seer and poet of modern India ...

What makes an ontology “robust”? - It often happens to me that when I begin using a term ironically, it eventually works its way into my sincere vocabulary. That is exactly what happened

Chitta and the Emotional Mind - Sri Aurobindo observes: “But in fact all action of the mind or inner instrument arises out of this Chitta or basic consciousness, partly conscient, partly ...

Mind and Nature in German Idealism, a graduate course - I’m very excited to teach a 10-week online course at CIIS next semester (Spring 2017, running from Jan – Mar) called Mind and Nature in German Idealism. Th...

Sri Aurobindo warned against āsuric perversion of Kshatriya ideal -Indian Nationalism and the Early Congress - Page 157 John R. McLane - 2015 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions Aurobindo Gho...

Introduction: God and Difference Book Event - Trinitarian theology has lost its way. It has become – as I demonstrate in this book – a way to enjoin practices of sacrifice and submission under the pa...

Habermas, Bilgrami, Satprem, and Ramdev - Habermas proposed citizens of the secular sector to be sympathetic and accommodative towards the reasoning of the people in the religious arena while Bilgr...

(Pics TNM 2016: Kali Bari, New Delhi, Ramakrishna Ashram, New Delhi, and Samaleswari Temple, Sambalpur, Odisha)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Habermas, Bilgrami, Satprem, and Ramdev

Habermas proposed citizens of the secular sector to be sympathetic and accommodative towards the reasoning of the people in the religious arena while Bilgrami privileges Modernity ideals and reiterates commitment towards their priority. Some followers of Sri Aurobindo buttressing Hindu religion nessecitates a clear understanding of the above equations. 

Further, Sri Aurobindo's Yoga psychology plumbing the depths of Consciousness borders on mysticism and, hence, needs to be subjected to rational scrutiny and classification, especially, when it comes to individuals claiming powers and siddhis. Though, no such foolproof institutional mechanism can be established, necessary precautions for preventing cheating the young and the vulnerable by misuse of positions is absolutely necessary. 

So, at the risk of sounding an out and out materialist, it needs to be stated that in the event of an iota of suspicion arising at the precarious intersection of an Yoga claim and a normal state, the ordering should favour the flavour of common sense, being verifiable by others. This principle can save from ugly eventualities like Ramdev claiming cure for cancer. Promising instant visions and experiences or tempting with false assurances of healing and miracles must not besmirch the sublime names of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. [TNM55]

Misc. References:

Though the 1995 judgment penned by then Chief Justice JS Verma had turned into a milestone, there have been seven court verdicts examining Hindutva or Hinduism. The apex court held that seeking votes in the name of Hinduism was not a "corrupt ...

The Indian Express-15-Oct-2016
SC to revisit judgments on Hindutva and Hinduism. The BJP had underlined one such judgment from 1995 in its election manifestos and to ...

posted by Cristina Lafont SSRC Home SSRC Blogs Blog Home  In his essay “Religion in the Public Sphere,” Habermas joins the debate between liberals and critics of liberalism on the proper role of religion in the public sphere....]
Religious citizens who participate in political advocacy in the informal public sphere can offer exclusively religious reasons in support of the policies they favor in the hope that they may be translated into nonreligious reasons. But the obligation of translation should not fall exclusively on the shoulders of religious citizens, as the Rawlsian approach suggests. According to Habermas, secular citizens must share the burden of translating religious into nonreligious reasons. In order to do so, they have to take religious reasons seriously and should not deny their possible truth from the outset.
March 5th, 2008 Taking religion seriously posted by Simone Chambers What would be lost if religious arguments, appeals, images and meanings disappeared forever from the public sphere? Habermas’s question involves taking religion seriously in a way never contemplated by Rawls;[...] Habermas is saying that a public sphere dominated by militant and aggressive secularism holds risks for democracy, potentially creating unbridgeable gulfs between democratic citizens. 

[Secularism: Its content and context - The Immanent Frame by Akeel Bilgrami on Oct 20, 2011 1:06 PM I propose, then, something like the following non-arbitrary stipulation as a characterization of secularism that contains all of the three features I had mentioned at the outset.
(S): Should we be living in a religiously plural society, secularism requires that all religions should have the privilege of free exercise and be evenhandedly treated except when a religion’s practices are inconsistent with the ideals that a polity seeks to achieve (ideals, often, though not always, enshrined in stated fundamental rights and other constitutional commitments) in which case there is a lexical ordering in which the political ideals are placed first. Much commentary is needed on this minimal and basic characterization.] 9:05 PM

"Заметки Апокалипсиса" являются своеобразным продолжением Агенды Матери - бесед Матери с Сатпремом, - и составлены из заметок Сатпрема, дающих описание его дальнейшего пути и опытов после ухода Матери. В этом томе включены заметки Сатпрема за 1984 год.
Здесь дается, или предпринимается попытка показать, обнажить старый вид, который не знает ни себя самого, ни своего начала, ни своей Цели, ни почему его существование смертно. Шаг за шагом в неизведанное Земли через простое человеческое тело, предоставившее себя Будущему непостижимому, но которое тем не менее, здесь, в нас, и виду в становлении.

50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread ...
Organized around key topic areas of modern psychology such as brain functioning, perception, development, memory, emotion, intelligence, learning, personality, mental illness, and psychotherapy, this book will help students and laypersons ...