Friday, January 25, 2013

Bengal proposes, Odisha disposes

The vitriol of internal feud flooding the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry often spills over to the Internet after regular intervals, but they are not the whole truth. The row is not merely about two groups fighting over the spoils but involves a larger civilizational trigger. With a bit of a speculative flourish, no harm, however, in dwelling upon the theme on the eve of the Republic day.

Echoing Tagore, Amiya P. Sen notes that “For the English-educated Bengali, Western thought or values acted more as a heady intoxicant rather than life-giving nourishment; it touched people's lives on the outside without also producing concomitant internal social changes. (Explorations in Modern Bengal, C. 1800-1900: Essays on Religion, ... - Page 2 - 2010 - Preview)” He also adds in the Preface that “I remain convinced as ever that the scope for writing intellectual history, even for academically so well-traversed a region as modern Bengal, is far from exhausted. ( ibid. - Page ix)

Since Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry can safely be seen as a stream or extension of the East-West encounter that germinated in Bengal, the silent coup enacted by Babaji Maharaj and Prapatti in irrigating Odisha - thus securing a rich harvest - cannot be overlooked. Agreed that the general social milieu is still not propitious but the geography has amply been taken care of with Schools and Relics Centres scattered across the length and breadth of the State. These institutions, over time, must be able to do enough navel-gazing and perform their evolutionary task in due course.

Let Bengal remain imprisoned by Vivekananda, Tagore, and Subhas; Odisha has stolen away the legacy of Sri Aurobindo. On a rough estimate, eighty percent of The Mother’s devotees reside in Odisha. So, contemplating on the future of the Ashram in Puducherry without reckoning the role of Odisha is myopic and anomalous. In this context, the ideological slant that the praxis in Odisha has effectuated over the years entails no mean role in shaping the political future of the world. [TNM55]             

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