Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Sri Aurobindo as antidote to AQAL, OOO, & New Atheists

[Susheel Mehta • 17 days ago the relation between cultural memes that we carry and their behavioral expression is complex and not very well understood. Random mutations that benefit the society are rare. There is no alternative but to 'incrementally' build upon the set of norms discovered in the process of cultural evolution… Varna system provided religious justification for social stratification and legitimized social hierarchy… Varna system has less to do with hierarchy and more to do with 'separation of power'. And since separation of power is a foundation of liberalism, at least part of liberalism of Indian society can be attributed to Varna system… Brahmins as a class--a set of public intellectuals fiercely protective of their autonomy both from the market and state--have played an important role in the civilizational continuity of India.
I may be wrong about my contentions. But the point is that social theorists have not examined with clarity the strength and challenges of our society and its internal dynamics. Rather the idea is always to look it through western experience… One can adopt a Dharmic/Evolutionary perspective, look for principles that sustain, nourish and hold together society, take stock of native cultural resources and articulate those principles in native moral vocabulary. The difference is not just trivial. It is the difference between Tulasidas, Kabirdas, Tagore and Gandhi on the one hand and Nehru on the other.]

Current crop of theoreticians in India have no use of Sri Aurobindo. Part of the reason is the biographical details of his forty Puducherry years are not very well known. Consequently, the context of the conversations and correspondences that have survived are yet to be understood properly or valued adequately. The concurrent role of The Mother and the ancillary activities of the disciples are further problem areas. No one is willing to enter into such complications what with the present uproar concerning the Ashram embroiled in Court cases.

Sri Aurobindo was in the habit of revising his own works. Many of his writings were waiting for his revision and hence couldn't be published in book form during his life time. However, the concepts he has introduced in seed form constitute a major departure from the traditional interpretations of native wisdom. Obviously, there is resistance and ignorance, and hence the burden of aggressive diffusion of his name as well as the Dreams. His writings, though tough to access, are the only means to counter the constant stream of sophisticated discourse that are paraded from every corner of the world. Be it AQAL or OOO or the New Atheists, Sri Aurobindo offers us a firm ground to stand upon and arms us to disregard them.

The same immunity, however, is not available when it comes to socio-political formulations and fermentations in the 21st Century. Sri Aurobindo has drawn the broad evolutionary brush strokes, but to flesh it out is contingent upon flight and fight of diverse human emotions emanating from different geographical regions, not all of them noble. India, therefore, has a prominent role here. The fate of the country can’t be left in the hands of those who don’t understand Sri Aurobindo or are averse to him. That would be a disaster. So there is an urgent need to educate our young in the intricacies of Humanities soaked in the insights of the Mother & Sri Aurobindo. [TNM55]  

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