Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sri Aurobindo as arbitrator Of history

India stands divided today on the basis of its past. An influential section believes that a glorious account of Indian history has deliberately been sabotaged and hence the same should be reestablished while the more commonsensical view is that the modern generation should steer clear of such uncritical and unsubstantiated tributes to the past. An understanding approach, however, senses some merit in both the standpoints and the challenge, therefore, is how to reconcile the two extremes. The problem is compounded when dominant political parties of the country patronise any one side of the debate and force almost a mythological version of history on cadre, thereby raising a vocal bulwark of support, resistance, and aggression. Not only identity and religion, a whole system of patronage and propaganda grows around the network bordering on a sort of sub-nationalism prospering over a wide diaspora.

In the face of such a dismal scenario, the students of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo find themselves in an extremely advantageous situation barring the fact that they are in an extreme minority. But the fact that the bone of contention is largely intellectual is a precious silver lining with every potentiality of a noon dawning at any moment. Sri Aurobindo, while dealing with the ancient Indian texts with unparalleled insight and analysis, brings the critical tools to the table so that the West is also allowed a level playing field. Anti-colonialist feeling prevalent in India has prevented people from taking sufficient advantage of such an intellectual symbiosis, but The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, through their published works spanning about a hundred volumes, have indeed unveiled a new era of harmony and international understanding.

Hegel and Whitehead, Lao tzu and Nietzsche, diverse streams of world knowledge find a synthesis in Sri Aurobindo's encyclopedic writings. Homer and Heraclitus, Dante and Goethe, all come alive in his portrayals and comparative analyses covering poetry, philosophy, politics, and education. More than anything else, Sri Aurobindo gives us a firm foothold in the midst of history to institute our own measurements and calibrations under the safe authority of his hallowed arbitration. A point of caution here, however, is to avoid rigid literalism and hackneyed fact-fetishism so as to draw freely from Sri Aurobindo's liberating oeuvre. A further unrecognised aspect is any effort to understand the great Master also contributes to the overall urge for global wellbeing and evolution. [TNM55]

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