Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Role of Jayantilal

Comment by Tusar N. Mohapatra
Re: An essay at clarification regarding Archival publications: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee (C)

The role of Jayantilal has not been discussed in relation to the judgemental remarks appearing in the journal. The reaction of the then trustees also needs to be elaborated for grasping the overall situation in the Ashram. [TNM55]

Monday, November 28, 2011

English prose and regional poetry

Without English, India will come to a grinding halt, although 90% of its population don't use it. The precarious companionship of English with the regional languages is a surprising project accomplished over several Centuries. Political parties in India, however, cleverly take cover behind this advantage to camouflage their ambivalence on various issues. What is articulated in English rarely matches the rustic rhetoric of local tongues in style or content. The duplicity in politics is thus amplified by this linguistic plurality.

Failure of English to infiltrate popular culture in India is, of course, a big defeat, but its hold on dissemination of thought through the print medium is intact. This means, we are forever torn between English prose and regional poetry. Not a very happy prospect, but that is our curious destiny. [TNM55]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Notes together

We have just compiled the editorial notes of all CWSA volumes by a strenuous process of first taking a snapshot of each page and then converting it into pdf aggregating 388 pages. It contains a mine of information and it would be a great help if the Ashram can make this compilation available online, separately. [TNM55]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jugal's list

Comment posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra
Re: An essay at clarification regarding Archival publications: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee (A)

Jugal's list of references to self-surrender or surrender to the divine seems to be slightly off the mark as surrender to The Mother is something else. I hinted about this thematic variation and not any textual revision, and obviously, no pre-1920 version of The Mother exists. [TNM55]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preferential Politics

[The true ‘enemy’ of the thesis is seen to be in the synthesis because it includes the thesis and ends the latter’s reason for being. (Intimate Enemy) ]

[The hermeneutic circle describes how we interpret a text through the circular feedback of parts and wholes. We start with the first word (a part) and a sense of what this text we are about to read is about (and so the whole of the text), and then we interpret each succeeding part using our conception of the whole. In turn we alter our understanding of the whole by the understanding we make of each new part.
So this is a continual, circular process by which interpretation occurs. At the end of the text our conception of the whole, the meaning of the text, has changed, and it has changed through the reading of the parts which got their interpretation through the then current understanding of the whole, which they, the parts, in turn, continually altered as we read.
Hermeneutic and Preferential Circles - philosophy autobiography by Jeff Meyerhoff on Nov 20, 2011 10:57 PM]

Between Katju and Hazare, we encounter a huge intellectual chasm comparable to Ravi Verma's opulence vs. Husain's minimalist representation of goddesses. Imagination or interpretation, though preferential and constrained by individual's horizon, can generate unpredictable response in the receiver that verges upon co-creation. The fleeting footwork of a dancer can be a life long cherished memory as much as a line of a poem one can't forget even after trying. While the abstraction involved is voluntary bypassing the rough edges is not always rational.

This disjoint torpedoes the truth-clams and even philosophy falls prey to rhetoric. The snares of hermeneutics, therefore, are too difficult to cut through. Most will agree that politics is bad, but that should not prompt us to hate Politics (with capital p). [TNM55]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sri Aurobindo alone is equal

[Great writers like Voltaire, Rousseau, Thomas Paine, ‘Junius’ (whose real name we yet do not know) played an outstanding role in this connection (see Will Durant’s ‘The Age of Voltaire’ and ‘Rousseau and Revolution’). The Encyclopaedists like Voltaire, Diderot, Helvetius, Holbach etc. created the Age of Reason, which paved the way for a modern Europe. Diderot wrote that “Men will be free when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”. Voltaire, in his satirical novels ‘Candide’ and ‘Zadig’ lashed out at religious bigotry, superstitions, and irrationalism. Rousseau in his ‘Social Contract’ attacked feudal despotism by propounding the theory of the ‘general will’ (which broadly stands for popular sovereignty). Thomas Paine wrote about the Right of Man, and Junius attacked the corruption of the Ministers of the despotic George III. Dickens criticized the terrible social conditions in 19th Century England. These, and many others, were responsible for creating modern Europe. Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman, Press Council Of India, “The Hindu” dated 16/11/2011)]

Justice Katju lists his favourite writers but it would be fair to expect the present generation to be aware of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Peter Drucker et al as modernising influences. Movies too are an important source of motivation, and exposure to Internet, an ocean of inspiration. It is absurd, therefore, to go two Centuries back and invoke archaic tracts.

To overlook what Sri Aurobindo has dwelt upon as Renaissance in India, however, seems unnatural. Further, comparing Indian people with the Europeans is fraught with multiple layers of anomaly. Anderson has noted that all of Integral theory are but footnotes to Sri Aurobindo. And in the same vein, one may venture to interject that Justice Katju need not have taken the trouble of remembering so many names, and could have mentioned Sri Aurobindo alone, instead. [TNM55]

Onus is on Sri Aurobindians

[Tracking Modernity: India's Railway and the Culture of Mobility - Page 62
Marian Aguiar - 2011 - 272 pages - Another key Indian figure associated with a spiritual-based nationalism, Aurobindo Ghose, spoke of the machine in ... Aurobindo was in many ways Vivekananda's heir, and he refined the notion of autonomy by elaborating the concept of ...]

[The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy - Page 819
George Klosko - 2011 - 840 pages - The new interpretation of social action found in the theory of karma yoga and the application of traditional language and symbols to the modern Indian scene were Vivekananda's and Aurobindo's contributions to a distinctly Hindu ...]

The providential potential of evolution vs. its emancipatory possibilities is a fiercely contested debate of our time. The former's argument is teleology driven while the latter is firmly rooted in the contingency of human agency. Perhaps, the two meet in the assertion that the individual is the key, but then, the scenario turns a bit nebulous like in All life is yoga. If all activities and initiatives are to be seen as ordained, then the ethical standards would have no meaning. This objection, however, can be countered by the proposition that we are wired genetically with adequate checks and balances.

The provincialism of the West has been the most frustrating phenomenon. Now that it is being forced to look eastward, the onus is on Sri Aurobindians to focus on a possible synthesis suitable for the current Century. We need to be clear as to why and how both Occupy as well as Hazare are hazardous for the future. Let the debate be deepened so that we present a unified face before the fragmented world. [TNM55]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Varna thumbs-up

The libertarian passion for property rights is well known. So, the inheritance of social capital on caste lines can't be disputed. Seen in the light of the assertion that heredity is merely a mechanism, preservation and nurturing of skills within the safety of the family is surely a means that serves a larger social purpose. Thus, treating the Varna taxonomy as decoupled from progeny might not be wholly convincing.

As Mayawati woos the Brahmins in UP, the hold of the age-old social stratifications comes under focus. Justice Katju might choose to slam it as castiesm, but the logic of division of labour, calibration, and branding has been driving this whole system uninterrupted. [TNM55]

Boatman and black swan

Madhu Bhaina has recounted one of his pet stories that we often heard at Sundargarh in the current issue of Navaprakash. The ordeal of a highly educated man incapable of swimming rescued by the unschooled boatman is the theme of the parable that privileges the practical knowledge over the pedantic. So far so good, but methodologically, drawing inferences from inadequate instances of observations might prove to be dubious.

Kush once wrote in the Sabda Newsletter quite daringly that the age of Thakur Ramakrishna and his stories are over and the challenge for the mind is to delve into the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. Learning the ropes in philosophy, admittedly, is a great help in wading one's way through minefields of fallacies. [TNM55]

Iffy moves

[“A marriage gives birth to certain rights and liabilities, which are seldom described in the contract of marriage i.e. nikahnama. Right to be maintained and right to inheritance, sharing of joy and sorrow, affection towards each other as alter ego, feeling of joint ownership and of oneness — all these are salient features of marriage, which distinguishes it from a civil contract,” ADJ Shastri said. Muslim marriage not a civil contract: Court
Utkarsh Anand, Indian Express, Wed Nov 16 2011, 00:01 hrs New Delhi]

[Comment on Twin souls by ipi - Comments for Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother
by ipi on Nov 17, 2011 8:26 AM
Good that mike is not married to the twin soul other wise in few years will think as twin evil, sorry its true as marriage can do this magic.]

Unlike the Catholic Church, we don't consider marriage or family as an aid in Yoga. The example in the life of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo in particular and the pivotal role of the Ashram in general are dampeners in this regard. Besides, the usual frictions occurring within relationships, - lively peeps into which are provided by ipi from time to time, - are readily attributed to the undesirability of worldly life. As sociological studies pertaining to practice of Integral Yoga are almost nonexistent, a general attitude of being apologetic about marriage prevails and the need to search for the golden mean never acquires urgency.

Teenagers joining Ashrams and opting for celibacy may have been sanctioned by the tradition, but is hardly a sound means of modern collective life. Playing the second innings post-Fifty has its own bouquet of difficulties which can never be anticipated while in the Twenties. There can't, however, be a one-size-fits-all rule for everyone, and even each neuron has its own genome, but it's worthwhile to probe issues like gender equations, old age, and kinship against the pulls and pressures of spiritual aspiration. [TNM55]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vedic battle against Hitler

Sri Aurobindo's role for liberation of India from the British rule is more or less known to everyone. But his fight against Hitler is yet to percolate into the popular lore. This episode assumes much significance once the Vedic implications is understood. Sri Aurobindo has not only unravelled the secret of the Veda, but also fought the Vedic battle against the epitome of evil in his own life.

Considered in this light, the teaching of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo reveals its intrinsic political nature. Yoga, itself, is a perpetual effort to break new ground and win fresh territory. But the paramountcy of the political unfolds when confronted with hostile forces, within and without.

Kaushalam, perhaps, becomes more relevant here than in the context of sundry mundane tasks. Best brains need to be harnessed for war and also the best of resources. The Mother was fighting a grim battle all through. Amal, her worthy child, called it a day recently. Wanted, bulk replenishments. [TNM55]

Good bye UP

The proposal to divide UP into four states is most welcome and its implementation must be put on the fast track. Additionally, if East Delhi is integrated with the new West UP state, then the development process could be galvanised for the whole region. Metro has taken away the border pains for many but a seamless movement of traffic within the whole NCR is a far cry. Being the most cosmopolitan habitat in the country, the fast growth in population should have matching infrastructural back up. Perhaps, the best paradigm of cultural synthesis and synergy will emerge here. [TNM55]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Katju's taraju

Tusar Nath Mohapatra on 15 November 2011 at 6:44 pm said:

The fact that the thought of Sri Aurobindo is yet to appear in the dominant consciousness of the nation proves Justice Katju right beyond any doubt. And sadly, both the elite and the laity are one under this criterion. [TNM55]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Integrating Life with Divine

A lot of scholarship has gone into studying religion in the recent years and we hear endless patronising noise from the secularists for the believers. But the irony is all such concerns surrounds the subject qua agent and not the object of his faith. God as a category in anthropological inquiry remains reified as ever. The Semitic imagery of creation continues to be ossified in the memory of the atheists and the academics alike.

This bottom-up approach of investigating the society has been the Achilles heel of every stream of Humanities. Themes on the Divine have fed aesthetics as well as rhetorics, but invoking a living presence has rarely been attempted. Marginalization of God in the secular age is well reflected by the shrinking Religious studies departments in the universities.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have effectively put a spanner in this mindless trend. They have valiantly put the agenda of the Life Divine in the forefront to demonstrate the integral reality of the different seeming twosome. Life, when studied divorced from the Divine, turns anomalous and sokalesque. Thus, The Life Divine alone can become the edifice for all future explorations into the human condition and destiny. [TNM55]

Silence is the bar

Agreed that RYD's deafening silence regarding the Centenary edition of Savitri is perplexing. He, like Hazare, has perhaps become a prisoner of his ambitious team members. His persistent complaint against "dignified silence" seems hollow if he follows the same tactic. He can't ignore valid criticism and must reply point-wise. [TNM55]

Time for Das Gupta to pack up

[CPI(M) puts limit of 9 years on party secretaries' term - India - DNA - Monday, Nov 14, 2011, 8:30 IST
In a historic move, the CPI(M) central committee has decided that party secretaries across all levels must limit their terms to a maximum of nine years, with the caveat that only under exceptional circumstances, extensions will be allowed.]

[November 13, 2011 6:23 pm
Ambani calls for generational change in India - By James Lamont and James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai
Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, has called for a generational change in the country’s gerontocratic leadership, and urged the government to move faster to implement reforms that would help meet its young population’s economic ambitions.
“We’ve had a mystery [in India] where we think that [important] jobs can only be done by 60-year-old plus [people]... I think we’re now fast moving to say that our 40-year-olds can take more responsibility and can perform better,” Mr Ambani, 54, told business leaders and policymakers at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in Mumbai.]

Time for Das Gupta to pack up. [TNM55]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

India adrift

The language question in India continues to be intractable. Hindi and its various dialects along with other regional languages complain of the hegemony of English, while Sanskrit, the source, languishes. As a result, a national culture or literature has failed to take shape. Pursuit of excellene has suffered due to limited appreciation and quality has become a casualty due to fragmented patronisation. Large scale migration of people is propelling proliferation of hybridity and rootlessness. TV, being a hostage of TRP, has proved ineffective in inculcating a pan-Indian ethos.

Although, the debate on High and Low Culture is yet to be settled, aesthetic paradigms are constantly being redefined. Palmtop devices are facilitating consumption of culture in new modes and media by the new generation. Seamless 24x7 services are transcending national and cultural barriers. Traditional categories like theatre, dance, and poetry, regrettably, are receiving short shrift. As it is difficult to answer the question, "Who decides?," the drift needs to be seen as ordained. [TNM55]

Healing Enlightenment

Heehs imbroglio brought into focus two oft-repeated fallacies, viz., Circular reasoning and Appeal to authority. The book, basically, was a meticulous attempt to steer clear of such glitches by debunking hagiography. Locating The Mother & Sri Aurobindo strictly as historical figures was a commendable academic venture. But, a fixation with sex and madness derailed the whole enterprise thus turning a prized project into a tragedy.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, however, are not only individuals, but also are universal as well as transcendent. Apropos such affirmations, the fallacies themselves turn illogical, as the logic of the infinite operates. All canons of cognition and empiricism bite dust in such instances. Enlightenment is clueless as to how to account for such a phenomenon. Immanence apparently is incapable of conceiving divinity and parent sacredness. This needs to be healed and the chasm bridged. [TNM55]

Hazardous potential of Hazare hurricane

[The huge success of Godrej's PUF (Polyurethane Foam) insulated refrigerators are an example to site as a successful ingredient branding strategy.
THE POWER OF BRANDS - Dr. Hemant C Trivedi, Vivek Khandelwal, Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad.]

Hazare hurricane is still hovering above the political landscape in a directionless fashion. But the puffed up appeal of the campaign has acquired a hazardous potential of pumping mass hysteria at any point of time. Saintly figures do impress the public in India despite their modest education but earning political fortune is a different avenue. Team Anna, it seems, is struggling to cope with its own internal politics and is sure to face dissensions at the time of future expansion and policy formulation.

Congress, BJP, and CPM too are facing internal turmoil over the leadership issue. A democratic culture of electing the captain has not taken root in our country so far. The feudal past forces people to look at dynasties, celebrities, and saints. The task, therefore, is to root for ideology and genuine grassroots empowerment and discourage emotional manipulation of the masses. [TNM55]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Emotion, memory, and myth

Emotion, memory, and myth are three problem areas in the realm of a modern mode of spirituality. While The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have gifted us a thoroughgoing ontological framework, the practice aspect is weighed down by too much dependence on certain emotions. The memory, similarly, is limited and progressively erasable, and therefore, the rational bedrock is liable to give way in course of time.

Myth, though integral to our existence, is subject to subjective appeal. Substituting a preferred version conforming to one's standards of enlightenment is a task that involves much attitudinal gymnastics. Despite the difficulties, however, Integral Yoga caters to all our faculties, and hence reigns supreme. [TNM55]

The posterity now

[By this time I have able to rattle everybody concerned out of complacency ... that is my sufficient consolation. ... Let the posterity judge the germaneness of my intervention albeit unsolicited.]

"JKM’s 50 page ordeal" can never be seen as signifying a contented heart. Rather, it clearly vents the sighs of a helpless soldier forced into subordination. He, however, pins his hopes on the posterity, and thus, it's not fair to hush up the ongoing discussions concerning the corrections in Savitri. "Consensus of a larger group of peers," likewise, cannot be a guarantee of flawless authenticity.

Unlike the Lives imbroglio, no one alleges bad faith in this controversy. The compulsion to defend the extant cold print is understandable, but discretion is the better part of valour in this highly complex matter. Fifty years down the line, the "approvals" would seem more suspect, and hence, it is high time to initiate a fresh attempt to have a re-look at the corrections in a technology-enabled transparent manner. [TNM55]

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Immoderate moderator

Just read an absolutely hate mail posted by a supposedly moderate moderator in the guise of a joke seeking death of political opponents. This is indicative of a sick mentality akin to the terrorists. Scientists too floated their theories via fiction in olden days. [TNM55]

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In search of rigour

[The most rigorous expression of pluralism as a theoretical project I know of is expressed by Richard McKeon. - For The Turnstiles by DGA on Oct 31, 2011 10:42 PM]

[Keynesianism has conquered the hearts and minds of politicians and ordinary people alike because it provides a theoretical justification for irresponsible behaviour. Don't Look to Political Parties for a Solution? - Coordination Problem by Peter Boettke on Oct 31, 2011 9:51 PM]

[ Will a prioritization of political ideals seem fair to members of a secular society, and, perhaps more importantly, does it capture the challenges that face the kind of democracies we currently characterize as governed by secularism? My suspicion is that the answer is no ... Taking a stance - The Immanent Frame by Lars T√łnder on Oct 31, 2011 10:17 PM]

[Press Council chief says he has a dim view of most journalists, TOI, 31 Oct 2011 - Press Council chief Markandey Katju has written to PM suggesting that the electronic media should be brought under its purview and should be given more teeth.]

[The lack of logical rigour is a running feature of the UPA's effort to attack the Jan Lokpal movement... There is adifference between the interesting and the important, the distracting and the dangerous and a key role of the media is to accord differential priorities to events rather than paint them all with a uniform brush. ...
Increasingly, ideology tends to overwhelm principle; the desire to support any action, however unsavoury, if it happens to be aligned with one's own views, is visible on both sides. Santosh Desai, Democracy without dissent? Times of India, October 31, 2011]

It is amusing to hear Santosh Desai - who hails from the advertising profession - recommending calibration to news media. Advertising, a key engine of Modern (also called Capitalist) society, is primarily responsible for inflated representation through mind-space manipulation. Paper-money system too follows the same route for creating a false sense of prosperity. All religions run on the basic premise of the devotee securing a promise from the God. Leftist thinkers keep on churning words with the certitude that they can successfully define the world without the hypothesis of God.

Thus, it is an irony to talk about rigour against the backdrop of irrational voters and irrational markets. The friction between ethics and aesthetics is perhaps key to the survival of the human race and hence finding the right balance or integration must receive priority by the society. [TNM55]