Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Twelve years with SELF

After a year of Pre-University in BJB College, Bhubaneswar, I joined Regional College of Education (now RIE, Bhubaneswar) run by NCERT for a Four year Integrated B.Sc.B.Ed course with Botany honours and Agriculture as vocational education, besides Statistics. It was really an integral atmosphere with students from all the Eastern States including undivided Bihar and teachers from all over the country. The library was a blessing which exposed me to a wide range of journals catering to diverse interests.

After one year as a science teacher in the same school in my village in which I had my schooling, I joined Punjab National Bank at Sundargarh as Agricultural clerk. The professional CAIIB exam gave the opportunity to study alien subjects like Commercial Law, Economic Geography, and Accountancy etc. apart from Management lessons imparted through in-house training. After 23 years in various capacities, I opted for VRS in Y2K and then these 12 years steering the SELF has been life-altering.

Since my schooling was in the Odia medium, grappling with English remains a stumbling block to this day. Further, dabbling in philosophy with the kind of educational background I have, would also seem hilarious. Nevertheless, whatever has been possible, thanks to Google and The Mother's Grace, is squarely amazing as well as humbling. [TNM55]

Suspect the text, value subjectivity

[Science envy from An und für sich Oct 30, 2012 by Adam Kotsko
The scientific method is obviously extremely powerful, but its (often willful) blindness to the real nature of its practice and its totalitarian ambition to explain everything (i.e., reduce everything to “scientific” terms) also make it extremely dangerous. Hence one of the most important jobs of philosophers is to be critics of science, in the Kantian sense of the word. In other words, Husserl and Heidegger and Foucault were basically right.]

Intellectual Ecologies and Populations by larval subjects  
The question is one of how we relate to the tradition or thought that has come before.  Do we stick our heads in the sand, continuing to draw on that tradition as if modern physics, chemistry, biology, neurology, mathematics, and contemporary social transformations wrought by technology haven’t occurred and make no demands on us to rethink the being or being, or do we relate to that tradition in terms of these transformations and seek to determine how we might creatively rethink that tradition in light of these transformations?] 7:31 PM 

[Dr. Ambedkar, Dr. Elst and Bhagavad Gita from Centre Right India Oct 31, 2012 by Aravindan Neelakandan
Dr. Ambedkar should be considered not only as a Dalit emancipator but also as a pioneering social historian of ancient India. He has developed a strong criticism of Bhagavad Gita in his unfinished book ‘Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India’… On October 3 1954, the main architect of Indian Constitution elaborated his philosophy in a speech broadcast on All India Radio. Dr. Ambedkar zeroed in on the Triguna-based Chatur-Varna rationale of Gita:
“Negatively, I reject the Hindu social philosophy propounded in the Bhagavad Geeta based as it is, on the Triguna of the Sankhya philosophy which is in my judgment a cruel perversion of the philosophy of Kapila and which had made the caste system and the system of graded inequality the law of Hindu social life.”
But there is nothing in Gita that makes Triguna either hereditary or unchangeable. According to historian Upinder Singh even the Jain and Buddhist traditions, which are supposed to have attached not much divine sanction to the Varna system, accept the Varna system as being based on ‘natural inclinations and aptitude’, which is exactly what Bhagavad Gita also states. In the traditional Gita-commentary of Sri Ramanuja, the Acharya presents a view that the Guna-composition can be changed through self-effort… The problem of ‘casteism’ or social stagnation seems to have set in the evolution of Buddhism and Jainism as well.]

While going through Sri Aurobindo's letters, the reader should keep in mind that each letter was written to a specific person at a specific time, in specific circumstances and for a specific purpose. The subjects taken up arose in regard to the needs of the person. Sri Aurobindo varied the style and tone of his replies according to his relationship with the correspondent; to those with whom he was close, he sometimes employed humour, irony and even sarcasm.
Although written to specific recipients, these letters contain much of general interest, which justifies their inclusion in a volume destined for the general public. For the reasons mentioned above, however, the advice in them does not always apply equally to everyone.]

The methodological quandary has been a constant companion of man since millennia and no possible remedy for it is in sight. Despite their exhaustive writings, The Mother & Sri Aurobindo – let’s face it – have not left behind some firm opinion on any specific topic. So, one must be extremely circumspect while recommending a slice of their prescriptions or endorsing its splice with some other formulation.

Internet has greatly facilitated availability of texts, but just because something is written, it can’t be taken at its face value. The content, by itself, is no assurance of truth or commensurate performance. Religious texts have existed for thousands of years but what we find in the society at present is sham and scams. Yoga or spirituality, if ineffective to refine the collective life, then will be accused of collusion or escapism. Heehs imbroglio has been instrumental in spreading the fragrance of Sadhana in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry from Columbia to Cambodia. It’s shameful that Dr. Karan Singh remains the Chairman of Auroville Governing Board for next four years. [TNM55]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Savitri Era as alternative identity and religion

[Building New Solidarities | Economic and Political Weekly Editorials. Vol - XLVII No. 44, November 03, 2012. Public religious festivals are a ready resource for reactionary politics. Can they be secularised?
Perhaps precisely because of this, it is necessary to develop a critique – both intellectual as well as political/practical – of the public religious festival. Some earlier attempts, like those of Tagore in Bengal, Gora in Andhra Pradesh and Periyar in Tamil Nadu, to critique them and move away to other, non-religious public festivities, have been unsuccessful, despite their initial promise…
Is it possible for radical and progressive forces to find forms of public festivities which can rival the public religious festival? Is it possible to build a popular culture which does not rely on religion and communal identities? We will not know the answer till the battle is truly joined.]

Not a nation where one cannot badmouth the Bhagwad Gita or disparagingly paint Goddess Sita. India does not need a proactive Hindu vanguard in the Abrahamic mould because this will end up making India more divided and Hinduism less universal. Instead we need to take identity completely out of our policies, our schools, our jobs, our tax code, our personal code – and this must include caste identity politics also over time. 2:31 PM]

Fond hopes, but a more doable option is to precipitate an alternative identity and, thereby, a participative religion. Savitri Era is a pioneering effort in this direction. [TNM55]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Invigorating writings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo

Tweets 11m - Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty By debating the ideas of Sri Aurobindo, and not St. Augustine, that one can reach at the right conclusions pertaining to secularism in India.
24h [Amazon: Sonnet-like Passages in Savitri by RY Deshpande 318 pages $9.99 Publication Date: October 18, 2012] … via @amazon -  View summary
28 Oct Quit tweeting and spend the time to study the invigorating writings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. That's the best path for nation building.
28 Oct No firm supporter of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo now in the national scene. All the more reason for clinging to the Manifesto of Five Dreams.
27 Oct [The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust waiting for a better system of self-governance!] …
27 Oct Huge gap between level of the students and what The Mother & Sri Aurobindo convey. Multilateral conversation needed. …
26 Oct [The image of the chariot becomes therefore a near perfect image of the human being. -Dr. Alok Pandey] …
26 Oct [The first man who inspired the voice of India’s freedom was not a politician or an activist, but a poet Sri Aurobindo] … 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dusting the Dreams

A local popular proverb asks pointedly, “Who has ever seen tomorrow?” thus registering a deep suspicion of the future. Teleology too is a highly contested notion and any hint of design in history is promptly resented. Reading the future from the palm or the forehead sounds esoteric but forays in genetic research confirm certain future events like diseases to be scribbled beforehand. This, when seen in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s theory of rebirth as well as evolution, there remains no confusion. Periods of gestation or hibernation, however, demand a lot of patience and high level of conviction.

Time is a dominant factor in the teaching of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. They were averse to accepting disciples in the Ashram immediately and advised that the aspirants were not yet ready. So, it’s not without significance that Sri Aurobindo termed his 1947 manifesto for the future as a set of dreams.

[Rajesh Ahuja Yesterday 18:55: I visited the Punjab University Library recently. I was searching for Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's writings. The books had hardly been issued and dust had accumulated on them.]

Tusar N. Mohapatra Yesterday 19:09: That's the reality but there is no denying of the fact that there is a huge gap between the level of the students and what The Mother & Sri Aurobindo actually convey. So, there is a need to bridge this perception of a gap through multilateral conversation. [TNM55]  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ilion along the Bay of Bengal

Sri Aurobindo builds, but also breaks; synthesizes, but also demolishes. His painstaking attempt in metaphysical system-building and writing elaborate commentaries on ancient philosophical texts is incomparable but he also has a lurking mistrust for pure knowledge and has turned the whole corpus of prevailing motivational theories upside down. By affirming “Nothing can be taught” he throws a bombshell at the normal notions of human cognition and stretches subjectivity to unimagined heights and depths. Man’s proclivity for empiricism sustained a permanent injury when Sri Aurobindo lobbed his “Logic of the Infinite” by exempting all supra-physical phenomena from submitting to scrutiny by the senses. Philosophy will always be indebted to him for the methodological breakthroughs that he has fruitfully introduced so authoritatively.

One must strut through the alien terrain of his Ilion where he recreates Homer to get a feel of what he characterizes as “Knowledge by identity.” The “Ladder of consciousness” in Savitri, similarly, imparts such an intimate sense of reality that one shudders to call them fictional. The very combination of a poet and a philosopher in him is indeed a rare occurrence. But what takes the cake is his enviable third quality of being an astute critic. [TNM55] 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Levi and The Life Divine

It is not the subject, lived experience, history, intentionality, the signifier, text, or power that explains nature, it is nature and materiality that explains all of these things. If these things aren’t treated as natural phenomena, then they deserve to be committed to flames… The truth of the matter, however– and I won’t even bother to make arguments here –is that naturalism and materialism are the only credible philosophical positions today… All you need to do is abandon the notion that humans aren’t an animal, that somehow being is dependent on humans and culture, and that somehow we have ends like knowledge and transcendence. All you have to do is re-interpret the entirety of your claims about lived experience, the signifier, culture, power, etc., in naturalistic terms. Then you might make a real contribution]

The talk of flames brings to the mind the tragic memory of Bruno, Savonarola, and the Library of Alexandria but there is nothing to fear from Levi, the beloved prince of the philosophy blogosphere. His impatience for disparate streams of 20th Century philosophy is well known but his own Onticology hasn’t moved much either. So, falling back upon the nebulous conception of nature, obviously, lacks rigour.

The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo, by contrast, stands in regal stature. It cares little for the hallowed territories of humanities, politics, or intimacy and their contested ideologies. The book lays out the Truth in its purity, beauty and brevity. [TNM55]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Self-preservation and prevarication in Yoga

Gerrymandering or moving the goalposts are common self-preservation strategies like various defence mechanisms and reflex actions and therefore the fallacies involved often go unnoticed. Privileging the demands of the vital vis-à-vis intellectual luxuries and nonchalance may not be a desirable phenomenon in Yoga but carnivals do have a bearing on sanity and ensure reality check. Integral Yoga, like postmodernism, is a heaven for moving the goalposts and writing your own rules. However, the trick is to be sensitive to ethico-political dimensions all the while, while keeping the antenna of aspiration aloft. [TNM55]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

28 + 32 = IY

Vol. 28 of CWSA has a pompous and misleading subtitle: Foundations of the Integral yoga. But, Vol. 32 informs that Sri Aurobindo told to turn entirely to The Mother, thus signifying a contradiction. Both the volumes, however, mercifully arrived today together and should be read likewise. [TNM55]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

No other soft option than politics

[The importance of being Kejriwal Indian Express Meghnad Desai: Sunday 21 October '12
Information has been democratised… What matters is the guerrilla tactics with news and embarrassing the powerful… It is the process which is important and not the final outcome. Kejriwal’s task is to shake the politics up and not predict the outcome… If he is smart, he will not get into any detailed policy statements.]

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have taken enough pains to chart a definite future for India and hence it’s myopic to rely on chaotic guerrilla tactics. Politics, like any other specialization, will remain in the hands of a few and therefore a party structure with well-defined policy pronouncements is a must. Orchestrated agitations in the last two years have been bogged down by fluidity, factionalism, and adhocism. Savitri Era Party has the firm conviction that the Five Dreams Manifesto heralded by Sri Aurobindo will be the guiding force for the country’s progress. [TNM55] 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Freedom and Ashram

The idols arrived last night setting off a week long Puja festivities downstairs. The temple too has a busy schedule of programmes apart from the Jagran organised by individual residents. People from all states inhabit this apartment complex kicked off in 1997. With over 1200 flats, the population must be around 5000 and they are engaged in all kinds of professions. All are free here to pursue their own interests and in this sense there is not much difference from the line adopted by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry. [TNM55] 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Secret of immortality lies elsewhere

A recent visit to Khajuraho confirmed the might of ancient Indian art and architecture that blended with philosophy and religion so robustly in the public sphere. The temple as a metaphor for physical immortality denotes an invocation as well as inquiry of that secret formula of forms. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, however, tell us the secret lies elsewhere and certainly not in the domain of the gross. Even Japa is only an efficient aid in the endeavour to “Make earth the home of the Wonderful and” “Transform the body of the mortal like a sweet and magical rhyme;” to recall the evocative diction of Rose of God. (Tip: New visitors to Khajuraho must visit the Main (Western) Complex first.) [TNM55] 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The challenge of evolutionary crisis is crucial

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo are recognized the world over as enunciators of a distinct system of Yoga and philosophy. They were pioneers of New-Age outlook and have produced substantial literature apart from founding the Ashram through which countless people have been inspired. Besides, a futuristic aesthetic ecosystem of music, art, & poetry has also taken shape as part of their spirituality. All this, however, remains confined to a very small circle of devotees and admirers. Attempts to spread their messages by establishing educational institutions have met with limited success so far.

India today is suffering from the burden of the past and The Mother & Sri Aurobindo advise unlearning. Religions are responsible for a lot of dumbing down among people and, therefore, The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have exhorted emancipation. As indolence and superstition give rise to ignorance and insolence, they prescribe a system of Yoga that is focused on reading their words and ruminating over them. Collective meditation and group discussion, wherever possible, is also encouraged. The overall emphasis is on the individual leading an ethical life while dedicating his day-to-day work to the all-pervading Divinity.

The most important aspect of the teaching of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is evolution. Since they foresee that the present type of human beings will be replaced by a higher level species, they hasten to prepare us for the same. That, of course, may be a distant possibility but the onus, they remind, is on the number of aspiring individuals to act as catalysts. Many people find fault with the political system or the economy but The Mother & Sri Aurobindo unequivocally characterize it as an evolutionary crisis for which their Integral Yoga is the only enduring solution. This crucial insight, regrettably, has not been duly noticed by the elite in India, however. [TNM55]