Friday, May 01, 2009

Our horizon spreads beyond one nation

[Re: Many Laughs—Humor by Anonymous Mirror of Tomorrow
by Kepler on Thu 30 Apr 2009 09:46 PM IST
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For example some have suggested (Dr. Nadkarni apparently among them) that when Sri Aurobindo is attacked in academic circles, those with scholarly capacities should respond on that playing field. But the response need not be a biography; writings of other types in relevant academic forums should suffice. But don’t press me too hard on exactly what makes a biography different. Perhaps it’s the personal element – a biography is by definition entirely about a person; an essay on the Life Divine is about a text and the ideas expressed in the text. An article in an academic journal defending Sri Aurobindo from a charge that his political activities encouraged the Hindu-Muslim divide, will involve biographical elements, but still seems to me less risky and presumptuous than a full biography. Kepler Reply]

[One should however not lose sight of the fact that the similarities between the freedom-movement-era religious nationalism and contemporary Hindu right wing nationalism "are superficial while the points of difference are deep," as Heehs writes in this outstanding biography of Sri Aurobindo."
Aurobindo favored an eclectic, basically Vedantic Hinduism, which he believed to be universal and 'the basis of the future world-religion.' But this 'wider Hinduism' was something that embraced 'Science and faith, Theism, Christianity, Mahomedanism and Buddhism and yet is none of these.' " (p. 99)
"The Hindu nation-builder," Sri Aurobindo wrote "shall not seek to superimpose his own ideals and methods on his Mohamedan brother, nor shall the Mohamedan, the Buddhist, or the Christian, seek to obliterate the essential characteristics of the Hindu culture and Hindu race." (Quoted in Heehs, p. 101)
Sri Aurobindo saw the interaction of Hindu and Muslim culture in India as an opportunity for the development of "a greater spiritual principle and formation which could reconcile the two or a political patriotism surmounting the religious struggle and uniting the two communities." (Quoted in Heehs, p. 118)
Those who believe that Sri Aurobindo turned more exclusively towards Hinduism in the later part of his life, might wish to consider his letter of November 1932 quoted by Heehs's in his study titled Nationalism, Religion, and Beyond (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2005, pp. 354-5):
A Fatherhood More Equal? Outlook Daily Letters 4 Apr, 2009 07:02:21PM (IST)
12:02 PM 4:11 PM 6:38 PM]

It is nice to notice Ulrich Mohrhoff graduating as a public intellectual and trying his hand in political affairs. It is only by grappling with current concerns that we can cut our eyeteeth on politics and public policy. The fact that our horizon spreads beyond one nation is another contentious area.

Accommodating such futuristic imperatives would necessitate enormous tact and goodwill. Given the ongoing profanity of political discourse, putting our viewpoint across with sincerity and transparency demands that we ourselves should be thorough with our homework.

Quoting The Mother or Sri Aurobindo selectively can prove to be an irritant at times. Establishing consensus on various burning issues through intense internal debates is a prime requisite at the moment. Let us hope that more Savitri Erans volunteer to enter the public domain like Mohrhoff. [TNM]

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