Thursday, May 04, 2017

Rescuing Sri Aurobindo from dubious representations

Rescuing Sri Aurobindo from dubious representations

A very important article written on Feb 17, 2017 by Raman Reddy has been posted two months back at

Labels indicate diverse range of subjects being covered by the author and many of them are decidedly controversial: Hinduism, India, Mother, Muslims, Nationalism, Peter Heehs, Raman Reddy, Religion, Richard Hartz, Secularism, Spirituality, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, The Clasp of Civilisations

The article touches upon current affairs tangentially and admits reception of Sri Aurobindo's writings differently by different persons. Even, within the Ashram! This, obviously, has wide ranging repercussions. Besides, the context has altered from the 2008 Book controversy to formal yoking with Hindutva.

I haven't read The Clasp of Civilisations by Richard Hartz but get a fair impression of it from Reddy's account. Nothing new about it and the label "leftist secular scholars" or other epithets used by Reddy. Looking at it as an internal debate, the most important fact is that it's informed and based on published matter and so any discrepancy can easily be rectified. Thus, there is a possibility of unanimity emerging and that's the silver lining.

I like Reddy's writings for their clarity and forthrightness. His treating of “Hindu Rashtra” with kid-gloves is dictated by current political realities. So, he is afflicted with the same disease as he is accusing Hartz of. Therefore, the question is whether Sri Aurobindo can be presented, - as he is, - without any political slant. However, when Reddy warns of "alienating themselves from 95 % of the devotees," one immediately thinks of purity being more precious than popularity.

Reddy also seems to be on weak ground when he discusses "condemnation of Hinduism without having anything to replace it" and "difference between traditional Yogas & Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga of transformation mostly irrelevant in actual practice." Such observations are surely jaundiced and I fail to understand the compulsion of some to grab Sri Aurobindo as Hindutva icon but hope that political perplexity doesn't affect the Ashramites. 

Elucidation on my own stand, in this context, wouldn't be improper as it firmly represents a third position. Though lacking degree or pedigree to back me, rootedness is one asset which imparts credibility. My perception of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is absolutely independent of any extraneous influence or pressure. This natural or organic trajectory spanning over more than half-a-century is a valuable case-study of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo's legacy. And, I understand very well how my views against Hindutva are such a pain in their neck as it can't so easily be dismissed like a foreigner's. [TNM55]

(Updated: May 8, 2017)

Tweets by @SavitriEraParty
Compulsion of some to grab Sri Aurobindo as Hindutva icon. Savitri Era Open Forum: Half baked scholars take the cake
Aurora Mirabilis: for some time meditation and Pranam receded into the background #SriAurobindo #MirraAlfassa
Savitri Era Learning Forum: Nehru spiritual figure and Sri Aurobindo secular icon #Hindutva #Consciousness #Integral
[Nehru is elevated into a spiritual figure and Sri Aurobindo converted into a secular icon, shows fundamental flaws]
[difference between traditional Yogas & Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga of transformation mostly irrelevant in actual practice]

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