Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sri Aurobindo wrote a shelf full of books

Post-1926, we meet a different Sri Aurobindo. The tone of his letters varies depending upon the addressee, autobiographical references slip out at times, and he touches upon several subjects within a blog-length reply. His revisionist and liberal attitude as regards the Indian tradition comes to the fore, so also his irreverence towards his renowned contemporaries. He delves deep into poetry, dismisses scientific psychology, and flirts with politics. Interestingly, he is keen in running of the Ashram as well and never forgets to write out advisories when necessary.

Factional scholastic debates of the past and the Theosophical grandstanding can be said to have dictated the tone of the Arya expositions. Understandably, Sri Aurobindo is cautious and seems to be a conservative as the motivational motive is also in play. Having tried his hand in recreating old themes in plays and poetry, he is attempting to realign more serious themes like philosophy, religion, and yoga in his commentaries. Overall, he establishes himself "as a person who wrote a shelf full of books" so that the likes of Heehs are impressed, the overarching theme of Self notwithstanding.

Sri Aurobindo's distinction from Vivekananda should be seen as the essential contribution of the former and needs to be appreciated threadbare. Any attempt to amalgam the two is a disservice to both, and hence, maintaining an uncompromising attitude is a must. It is also important to note how Sri Aurobindo has introduced several variations after The Mother's arrival in 1920. His letters compiled in the booklets like Bases of Yoga and The Mother stand testimony of this.

The aesthetic aspect of both the prose and poetry of Sri Aurobindo can be an independent pursuit and ennobling experience. As far as intellectual challenge is concerned, they offer unending and multifarious opportunities. Besides, the inspirational and intuitive treasures they harbour is fathomless. So, the interplay of these three aspects can become confusing at times and in the case of Savitri, especially, it can turn intoxicating. A levelheaded approach, therefore, is what The Mother & Sri Aurobindo demand from us. They never recommend to encourage quackery and peddling of therapy or numerology. [TNM55]

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