Sunday, October 31, 2010

Courts invoking the occult

Even in an elementary liberal sense, shouldn’t the right to dissent or even rebel and secede be granted to citizens as both individuals and groups? What else do we have our liberal constitution and its florid, archaic prose for?
… if there is no right to secede, then we are all prisoners of the present nation-state, including its territorial boundaries. At least I do not interpret our “liberal” constitution in that way. “To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India” might well involve redrawing the boundaries (secession) and/or renegotiating sovereignty within existing boundaries (rebellion). The constitution did not say the “unity of India as of 15.8.1947″ (or any such date). By Uday on October 30, 2010 at 8:23 AM Reply]

[The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | The Ayodhya judgment - Any retreat to pre-modernity is dangerous for democracy 12 Oct 2010 Prabhat Patnaik 
There are three obvious problems with the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Babri Masjid issue. Each of them in isolation is potentially damaging for the constitutional fabric of the country; together they can cause irreparable harm. …
Secondly, issues like this leave behind wounds that fester and can cause damage later even if there is no immediate cause for concern. Justice needs to be done, in a manner that is in conformity with the blindness of the maiden. That is the only firm basis on which a modern State can be built; and the resolution of even specific issues like this lies ultimately in the building of such a modern State. Hopefully, the Supreme Court to which the matter will be referred will be mindful of the pitfalls of quick fixes and will uphold scrupulously the cause of law. The author is professor, Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi]

All these years the Constitution of India had seemed to be a very secure and mature shelter. No longer. It looks like there are one thousand and one misgivings about it by various quarters. Courts invoking the occult and anarchists marshalling their dubious polemics can prove too costly for the health of the nation and its reliance on parliamentary democracy. [TNM]   

We have no mandate to mix

From Tusar N. Mohapatra date 31 October 2010 19:06
The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have set forth a new path for their works, to follow which also demands that we eschew the tenets of traditional enunciations. The latter may seem impressive and imposing but we have no mandate to mix them with what are specifically prescribed by the masters.

This is the most difficult aspect of their teachings although initially one is drawn by the liberal notion that The Mother & Sri Aurobindo leave out nothing and synthesize everything. No doubt, they used to tolerate the fancies of their disciples until one was aware. But the basic principle was always the same: unreserved surrender. [TNM]

More or less

The plethora of choices one encounters in every field of life today is simply mind-boggling. A surfeit of terms referring to the same thing is another perplexing affair. For example, one has moved from Cinema to Picture to Film, and then to Movie at various points. Similarly, surfing the newspapers online turns taxing because the edit-page has various names like Views, Opinion, Editorials, Columnists, Blogs, etc.

The stock markets, by contrast, have standardized the nomenclature of complex instruments to facilitate trading on global platforms. This uniformity has crystallized out of sheer necessity despite the fact that the very concept of market is almost a synonym for choice. The two-party system, likewise, is also considered by many as an advancement over the multi-party chaos.

Limited human capability and life span forces most people to cling to a tiny range of the available diversity. This entails widespread marginalization and ghettoisation. The same is also true for technology as well as entertainment where sophistication often comes wrapped with deception or perversion. The mainstream media is now a glad accomplice in the game having abdicated its role at scrutiny and calibration.

The evolutionary imperative of Unity, Mutuality, and Harmony, in this context is not easy to perceive and pursue. Nonetheless, the primacy of unity, in spite of its hegemonic apprehensions, is an ideal worth striving for. A wide imagination has the power to transform the puny circumstantial boundedness of an individual. This would mean, paradoxically, a shrinkage in the realm of languages, religions, and nationalities. [TNM]  

Friday, October 29, 2010

A random click can do the trick

Pageviews of Savitri Era Open Forum has crossed 8000 this month while that of Savitri Era Learning Forum is yet to reach 800. This shows how controversy has more pulling power than the educative. Even, the combined figure for the rest of the 20 blogs is not much ahead. Readers, however, can lend a helping hand by randomly clicking a page or two of their goldmine (archives). [TNM]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moral vs. political

“Consider divorce in America: it has taken sociologists forty years to conclude that divorce, in a strictly statistical sense, is not good for children. … Sociologists, once responsible for understanding the nature of moral and social life, grew silent in their regard for moral judgment, except as political judgment.”
Here is an essay of mine on Peter Berger -- who also thought (thinks) sociology has lost its way -- that Imber published in his journal Society.]

Exactly, and whether our relationships should be so interchangeable. [TNM] By: Tusar N. Mohapatra on October 27, 2010 at 1:43 PM Reply
True, but any conceptualization would mean some kind of relatedness. A too reductive analogy can engender delusions and hence is a methodological hazard. [TNM] By: Tusar N. Mohapatra on October 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM Reply

Savitri Eran sabre rattling

[Christianity and its others from The Immanent Frame by Peter van der Veer
In South, South-East, and East Asia, we find extraordinary competition between different religious movements: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and others. Also, within these religions this competition is intense—for example, between Shi’as and Sunnis, or between Protestants and Catholics. Since Christian missions were the first modern endeavors of their type in the world, many of their tactics and strategies have provided models for other religious movements. Education, health care, and social welfare are the fields in which these movements are competing with each other, often without much presence of the state. In refugee camps in Asia, one finds also a heated competition for the souls of the displaced. 12:54 PM]

Savitri Era Religion too will not shy away from conflict and the current imbroglio presents an extraordinary opportunity to hone our skills in sabre rattling and polemics. [TNM]

Mother vs. spouse

This marriage analogy is admittedly disconcerting vis-à-vis the mother and son relationship with the nation that we have grown up with, especially when love and emotions is the issue. [TNM] By: Tusar N. Mohapatra on October 27, 2010 at 11:25 AM Reply

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Ryder’s masterstroke is a proud moment for SEOF

Leibniz was a scribbler, a letter writer. Even his massive New Essays on Human Understanding was a letter to Locke, abandoned when he died. Leibniz was gregarious and communicative, craving, it seems, talk above all else (let’s not forget he was also a diplomat). … There is something beautiful in the epistle and in many respects blogging is, as Mel put it to me recently, the new epistlary. …
Rather, originality follows the logic of Lacan’s tuche or chance encounter. … An encounter with the unfamiliar, with alterity, generates an unassimialable kernel with respect to what I had previously been focusing on. That kernel functions as a seed to throw thought in motion, generate new conceptual spaces, form a weave of relations to make sense of these disparate worlds, thereby generating the work of writing.]

Dr. Ryder’s verdict on the Heehs imbroglio seems to be the final one. No one has been able to refute his formulation till now. This is perhaps an apt example of lateral thinking, and the way he traps Heehs by the latter’s own smart tricks is really a masterstroke. Thus, Heehs stands convicted even before the book has seen the light or anyone heard about it.

It is a proud moment for SEOF that in its pages a two years’ tussle has been resolved. Many are dismissive of the site for washing dirty linen in public, but we have always believed in the power of discourse. Dr. Ryder hit upon a gem in the course of such a dialogue without perhaps realizing it. Apart form the therapeutic potential of speech, the context of a conflict, paradoxically, also needs to be appreciated for such intuitive inventions.

Now that the book issue has been settled, our energies must be directed towards the Ashram. More discussions on its functioning and probable reforms can go a long way in bringing clarity to our understanding of it. May be some one like Dr. Tyger comes up with an innovative solution. [TNM] 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sri Aurobindo is the star of 20th Century

'Makers of Modern India', edited and introduced by Ramachandra Guha, is published nationwide by Penguin India on October 25 ... reflects on the 19 men and women who made India a unique ...
Makers of Modern India is a rich and comprehensive repository of India's of India's political traditions. ...
These makers of modern India did not speak in one voice: their perspectives are sometimes complementary, at other times contradictory. The topics they explore and analyse include religion, caste, gender, language, nationalism, colonialism, democracy, secularism and the economy—that is to say, all that is significant in the human condition.]

Sri Aurobindo failed to make it to Guha’s list of 19 confirming the latter's notoriety. Such blind and ungrateful pen pushers of our time! [TNM]  

We replaces the State

The basic flaw in the statements like, There has to be control of speculation and regulation of markets to curb price peaks and bottoms and we can well manage without the State, is often overlooked. By removing the State the ‘we’ remains which replaces the State. Further, the role of the State becomes all the more crucial in the times of agitation, war, and calamities. Whosoever assumes the leader’s role in such moments becomes the State. That some are directors and others followers is part of the natural order and hence the age-old fourfold division of society seems to be a more reasonable arrangement. [TNM]

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Life Divine is the crest jewel of human thought and hope

The Life Divine is a definitive work of philosophy as well as prophecy. Religious scriptures and various theological texts of the same genre are in currency from the dawn of the human civilization. But The Life Divine is the most modern treatise that easily substitutes all the rest. Even grand philosophical tracts of great sophistication turn pale before the Himalayan heights of The Life Divine. Its monolithic ontological architectonic stands supreme and unsurpassed even as its evocative prose congeals a transformative atmosphere.    

The Life Divine borrows extensively from the ancient Hindu literature, but it cannot be termed strictly as Hindu philosophy. Sri Aurobindo, with his background of Western education, has executed a deft amalgamation with speculative metaphysics as well as scientific inferences. The result is an integral body of knowledge which the mankind was in search of in fits and starts. Disengaging philosophy from specific religious anchorages, he sets forth a universal explication of being and becoming as a fountainhead to quench man’s perennial thirst for knowledge.

There is no dearth of people who give lectures on Sri Aurobindo’s teachings without going through The Life Divine. There have also been attempts in the past to distort its profundity and parody its message, thus confusing the gullible. Overall, the book has been a target of religious antipathy, political conspiracy, and intellectual arrogance. There are sympathizers too, but few take the trouble of reading more than a thousand pages. The Life Divine is the crest jewel of human thought and hope and hence each one of us must read this essential work. [TNM]  
[The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo

Full accountability and communication

[The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | The Ayodhya judgment - Any retreat to pre-modernity is dangerous for democracy. Prabhat Patnaik, Tuesday, October 12 , 2010 
Hence the verdict of the Lucknow bench that Ram was born at the very spot which was the sanctum sanctorum of the Babri Masjid, because “people” believed this to be the case, is as mystifying as it is retrograde.
There are, to start with, the obvious, but weighty, questions of who these “people” are, how many such “people” must be there to qualify being called “the people”, and what evidence the Lucknow bench had, even regarding the views of the “people”, other than what it might have gathered as a result of the activities, claims and mobilizations of a few Hindu organizations which professed to speak in the name of the “people”. To take the word of organizations that claim to speak in the name of the “people” as the voice of the “people” is dangerous enough. But to take the “beliefs” of the “people”, even assuming these are indeed the well-established “beliefs” of a very large number of people, as synonymous with “facts” strikes at the very root of the rationality that must underlie a modern society.]

[Time For A Fresh Start - The Times of India  Chetan Bhagat, Oct 9, 2010
So what would be the better product offered by the BJP? First, they will need to clarify their core values and goals in brief. Manifestos are too long and archaic. The core values should fit on the back of a visiting card, or fit in an SMS, and be easy to understand. A possible set of core values can be full accountability and communication; zero tolerance for corruption; youth representation and secular, inclusive, pro-business growth.]

The core values suggested by Bhagat can as well apply to the Ashram Trust. [TNM]

Friday, October 08, 2010

That was 20 years ago

Sunil S R’s litany of woes may be shared by many today but someone from the other side will immediately respond that these are a bundle of lies. There is no means to verify these charges and counter-charges, but they verily pile up as the chronicle of the Ashram, albeit in a cumbersome form. Truth has become a casualty in the post-Heehs era, and may be some intrepid history buff in the future finds it as sumptuous fodder. [TNM]

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Heehs has questions (issues?) with the founders

Dr. Ryder rips open the lie of Peter Heehs with clinical precision. Never during the last two years was this simple fact articulated so clinchingly and so succinctly. Hats off! [TNM]   

Monday, October 04, 2010

No yoga sans The Mother & Sri Aurobindo

It is well known that Sri Aurobindo concentrated more on the future of India after its independence. And it can safely be concluded that the present shape of the country is not what he wanted to see. So, what are the parameters of the shortfall? Whether the deficit is only in magnitude or also in direction? These are surely inconvenient questions and are difficult to answer too.

Sri Aurobindo was emphatic that India will show the path to the rest of humanity. India, here, should be construed less as a nation or political entity and more as representing the Vedic wisdom. The core of these ancient utterances posits the hypothesis that the world we see is only the tip of the iceberg, the significant causal segments of which are hidden. So the imperative was to stay awake to the occult/spiritual/unseen realities.

This lesson as carried through countless streams of religion over vast stretches of time has a pan-Indian presence. The message has permeated the hearts of succeeding generations and is being perpetuated through popular culture. A continuous civilization has survived for more than 5000 years on the strength of such a cognitive consensus.   

The soft power that India possesses even today is something unparalleled. Family values and the wide diversity are aspects which the people of India would feel proud for. Religiosity pervades the community life even in the metropolitan cities. But what is missing is a willed pursuit of self-transformation which The Mother & Sri Aurobindo termed as yoga.    

Yoga as practical psychology is basically a self-management tool. Its efficacy or benefits are varied depending upon at what age one adopts its regimen. Therefore, the experiences of no two persons can be equal. Further, the personal relationship one refines with The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is purely unique, which is an essential aspect of yoga for receiving their evolutionary assistance.

In this sense, recommending some new age practices gleaned from the traditional systems cannot stand as yoga unless it is tethered to the name of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Besides, the volitional and behavioral modifications that we label as yoga hold true within a matrix of specific ontological assumptions. And sundry strands of perennial philosophy fail to aid here.

These two lynchpins being indispensable for the chariot of yoga to proceed, there can’t be any compromise or beating about the bush. The people of India, who are perennially in love with various religious rituals and lately with yoga postures, must be exposed to the words of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Call it activism or call it religion; there is no other way. If we want to see a new India ready to lead the world, then The Mother & Sri Aurobindo must preside everywhere and people voluntarily hand over their business of life to them. [TNM]

Rival religions are proselytizing profusely

Many are insistent that one comes to the path of yoga only when the inner call rings. This neat formulation, however, is hard to prove. What about those born to families devoted to The Mother & Sri Aurobindo for three or four generations? They never chose, and rather were chosen even before their birth. On the other hand, there are umpteen examples of students of schools dedicated to the ideals of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo deliberately avoiding the spiritual path.

Thus, generalizations on this score are liable to be fallacious. Without resorting to the scrutiny of occult phenomena such as the inner call and psychic being, the common sense approach is to spread the teachings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo by all available means. If we are convinced that their writings are helpful in life and these are not being supplied via the general education system, then special efforts have to be made in an organized manner. Technology is in place as a willing collaborator but unfortunately our flesh is weak.

The confusing ‘religion’ debate is another dampener as most are morbidly fearful of the word ‘proselytizing.’ At the same time we are blissfully oblivious of the consequences of other religions proselytizing profusely. Not the next species; the here and now, therefore, is a more compelling subject to ponder over and act upon. Wanted the collective zeal. [TNM]

Ashram suffers from flaws of collectivism

[A deeper justification for free trade is that it civilizes and enlightens.  … But the most fundamental reason I support free trade is that it is immoral for me to tell you how to spend your money and for you to tell me how to spend my money. An Open Letter to A Correspondent from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux, 3 October 2010]

[Ken Wilber developed a useful way of marking the distinction between the two, referring to the "interior collective" and the "exterior collective." The interior collective is to we as the individual is to I -- that is, an internally related center of order. For example, a passionate marriage is a true "we" at every level, body, mind, and spirit (and that is indeed one of its purposes, since it helps develop the "I" to its true potential, even while allowing us to transcend it in the "we"). 
But the exterior collective is not a spontaneous order. Rather, it is something that you are essentially forced to be a part of, like Obamacare. Ironically, collectivism can never be a true collective, since most people don't want or choose to be members of it. It is imposed from the outside to varying degrees, so it's only a "we" for certain constituents, eg., the MSM, Hollywood, the tenured, the stupid, the envious, the immature. 
But this is what defines the leftist spectrum, from Obama/Euro style democratic socialism, to authoritarian fascism, and on to totalitarianism. Disordered Reason and the Illegitimate Force of Obamacare from One Cosmos - Mar 27, 2010]

[The human spirit--a spirit which strives always to throw off the shackles hold it down; which constantly veers toward freedom and away from slavery--cannot ever be completely extinguished and will always rise from the ashes of the left's next failed utopian experiment. THE LEFT'S UTOPIAN AMBITION from Dr. Sanity, 3 October 2010]

The Ashram as an economic organization has many distinct advantages. A strict division of labor entailing commendable specialization involving dedicated hands at economical costs should have worked wonders. But the flaws of collectivism play their part. Lack of ambition and thirst for commensurate incentive keeps the production units moribund. Absence of exit route, product shifting/shuffling, and diversification are other probable factors for the commercial ventures not becoming competitive and successful.

The genesis of the Ashram invokes the aspirational aspect of the human beings, whereas the more mundane projections of human psychology play out in everyday functioning. Economics belongs to the latter category and unless its demands are met it languishes. Mythological pictures of an ashram tends to keep people bonded to the bygone days and nostalgia rules. The challenge, however, is to build a vibrant community by suitably responding to advances in media, machinery, and methods of learning. [TNM]        

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sri Aurobindo votes for the Veda

[I have never been –nor I plan to be—a practicing Buddhist or a ‘believer’ of any sort, but the encounter with Nāgārjuna’s philosophy was probably the most exciting intellectual encounter of my career - Fabio Gironi - Notes on Co-dependent Origination ~ by Fabio Cunctator on September 30, 2010.]

[I am reading day and night in Sri Aurobindo “Synthesis of Yoga” – it's the greatest reading and transforming adventure I embarked so far in my life – it's pure bliss and rapture, almost every single page of his works. ... Alive & Awake… » The beauty of surrendering to the Divine - 12:10 PM]

[in all those years I didn’t came across something so entirely captivating and consuming my entire being like it is to me right now the study of Sri Aurobindo and his works. To meet this kind of wisdom feels like meeting for the first time in my life the Master Teachings in its purest form and efflorescence Sri Aurobindo Studies September 30, 2010]

The Veda vs. the Buddha war is no longer one sided. Sri Aurobindo votes for the Veda and turns the tables. [TNM] 

Christianity's new evangelists

This seems to be empirical support for the claim made by Calhoun and many others, such as Wolterstorff and Habermas, that people who are religious cannot separate out their religious reasons and their secular reasons—or, more subtly, that they cannot translate between the two. They have no choice but to use religious reasons.
Not quite. … However, if they were asked to give reasons for their reasons, then the respondents thought that eventually their religious reasons would have to be brought into the conversation, because those are “behind” everything. …
Famously, Richard Rorty claimed that religious reasons are a conversation-stopper, because they are unintelligible to those who do not share one’s religious beliefs. So, if Rorty is correct, Habermas’s translation proposal will never work.]

Secularist professors who have found it profitable to favor the religious turn are now the new Christian evangelists. For, whenever they talk about religion they mean Christianity. [TNM] 

Savitri Erans shall give the right direction

D-day is here and the nation is all set to witness the XIX 2010 Commonwealth Games, its largest international sports extravaganza since the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982. Going by past records, when Delhi hosted the first Asian Games in 1951, ... CWG opening ceremony to showcase India today 
New Delhi: The 2010 Commonwealth Games get underway on Sunday with a grand opening ceremony on the cards at Delhi's iconic Nehru stadium.]

With its political relevance dwindling over the years, sports remain a poor residue of the grand idea that is the Commonwealth. These (the UN and smaller international clubs) were imperfect beginnings on the path of human unity. The principle of association should ensue from a different source and only the Savitri Erans can give it the right direction. [TNM] 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Validating mythology weakens the march of modernity

Savitri Era Party is unhappy about yesterday’s Court verdict. Legitimizing majoritarian coercion is anomalous within a constitutional framework and more so when the matter is an emotional issue like religion. This precedent of validating mythology might trigger numerous repercussions thus weakening the march of modernity in the country. However, all is not lost as the Supreme Court is there to arbitrate. [TNM]