Thursday, July 31, 2014

Enthusiasm about Sri Aurobindo fades away

Religion in India is witnessing enhanced activity since prosperity and logistical support is on the rise. Political mobilisation and need for entertainment is driving more and more people into these celebrations. Live telecasts are responsible for excessive publicity and added legitimacy. Govt. support for smooth management spreads the impression of State sponsorship influencing public participation. But the kind of intellectual lethargy that these round-the-year events infuse among the young generation is a major cause of India's backwardness. Tourism industry gains to an extent but religious austerity prevents full scale spending and enjoyment. 

It's common to notice on Twitter that many become enthusiastic about Sri Aurobindo for a couple of months or so and then it fades away. The glamour of current affairs and sports etc. are so overpowering that people tend to get bored with philosophy. Religious congregations offer an easy and entertaining escape. Being in a crowd prevents from ruminating over the meaning of life or such other serious propositions. Solitary activities like reading or meditation take a back seat. Many prefer and privilege discussions just to get rid of loneliness and boredom and, consequently, become a victim of inauthenticity as outlined by Heidegger.

It's true that it's impossible for any individual to unravel his own mystery within life's short span. Both Science and Philosophy have been a failure on this score as of date. So, the best course is to depend upon the words of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo instead of Schopenhauer and Eduard von Hartmann. But discovering the true worth of their teachings and being convinced of their prophecies is a long-term affair. The challenge for the young and educated adults, therefore, is to proceed with Sri Aurobindo's books in a slow and steady pace. Be Indian, be Sri Aurobindian. [TNM55]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Mother's role in cementing a Judeo-Vedic project

From Magna Carta to Flipkart, the journey of human civilization is a long and interesting tale of intercourse between the East and the West. Those at the helm of affairs of our nation are grappling with the story of a glorious past and its relevance in the modern context. But, it's not an easy task as history merges with legends and Mythological fiction in many respects. Nevertheless, distilling timeless wisdom from our ancient texts continues to which Sri Aurobindo provided a great filip. The whole clue to the human future has not been monopolized by Science and Technology as of yet. Philosophy has a stellar role to play in moderating and reconciling disparate findings of Science emerging from time to time.

The West has made tremendous advances in all fields of human concern. But the Christian Mythology continuing is a shame for their scientific attitude. Even the best of Western Philosophy is simply a response to the Christian Ontology, either overt or covert. Most of Western Theory, similarly, are drawn from a limited geographical span and are constrained to that extent. For them, the rest of the world doesn't exist and this constitutes a serious handicap.

Sri Aurobindo was well aware of the importance of the West and sought to integrate its contributions with the ancient Indian wisdom. The Mother's role in cementing such a Judeo-Vedic project happens to be a landmark in India's history and this year, we are celebrating her arrival's Centenary. [TNM55]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No better source than Sri Aurobindo

Power is a good teacher as RSS is undergoing deep contemplation over a surfeit of issues from FDI to Gay rights to GM seeds. It will also discover many virtues of learning English and other foreign languages. The younger generation will not accept its Mythology-based worldview and hence a rational Ontology like Sri Aurobindo conceives will be in demand. Searching for examples of an ideal society in India's past is an error since Sri Aurobindo points at the future Evolution. Uncritical assumptions are a bane of RSS mindset which is likely to metamorphose due to political compulsions. It has earned some expertise in running primary schools but now the challenge is to redesign Universities and Business Schools. Obviously, much more intellectual inputs are needed than shouting Jai-Shri-Ram slogans. But, it's a tragedy that RSS has been too niggardly in investing in this arena.

Secrecy is another flaw which RSS should do away with. Responding to current issues in a free and frank manner can make it come to terms with reality. Playing hide and seek as regards its relations with BJP should also end. Looking beyond our borders can teach its footsoldiers not to confuse Gaza for Gujarat. Overall, it must not impose its outdated ideas and instead, encourage the citizens to think for themselves and choose or change their own lifestyles. 

BJP too is learning and treading very cautiously. Becoming the mainstream ruling party in the 21st Century is not an easy task and being Democratic and transparent is still more challenging. Ensuring freedom and equal opportunity for all citizens is a sacred duty and BJP must never forget how it skidded in 1992 and 2002. As regards ideological anchorage, there is no better source than Sri Aurobindo and it is hoped that he will be adequately remembered on his birth anniversary on August 15. [TNM55]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sri Aurobindo's belief on the power of the written word

It's generally agreed that Sri Aurobindo's synthetic Philosophy can be better appreciated when read against Nietzsche, Marx, Darwin, and Freud. Concepts like Evolution, Superman, and Psychoanalysis arose during that time and Sri Aurobindo gave his own version bypassing the crudities of Western theories. Philosophy, usually, fights shy of God but Sri Aurobindo commenced his elucidation with the Divine as the centre and the source. Understandably, the thrust of arguments are reversed as also the purpose and consequences. Priorities before us too change accordingly and afford an altogether different perspective. Social values and evolution of political ideals assume special significance as against mere material development and comforts.

Positing Yoga at the centrestage also forms a daring act by Sri Aurobindo. He was not interested in intellectual grasping only but to translate them in our life and action. By conceiving the Evolutionary Force as a catalyst in this effort, he opens our eyes to unseen worlds and their intentions vis-à-vis our instrumentality. That the Universe is moving towards regaining its Order, Beauty, and Harmony removes all traces of pessimism from our minds. Imperfections of the present society pose a challenge to be transformed in the light of Sri Aurobindo's prophecy. Not by avoiding but by grappling with them that seeds of truth can be sown to sprout in the future, assures The Mother.

Mother India of the current month has admirarably put together writings on ARYA commemorating its Centenary. The hope and certitude with which Sri Aurobindo accomplished this venture is something unparalleled in human history. His belief on the power of the written word, thinking, and pedagogy is so overpowering and contagious. Writing about it over the Cyberspace 100 years later, one feels a thrill that can never be explained adequately. Further, the confidence that here we have someone in India who can beat the Western philosophers right from Aristotle to Žižek of our times is so satisfying. [TNM55]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sri Aurobindo stitches his philosophy with Exclusive Concentration

It's an oft-argued point that Sri Aurobindo stitches his philosophy with Exclusive Concentration which has also roots in the tradition. But his ticking off of False Subjectivity takes away the humanizing element ingrained in the former. How to justify human action and initiative, therefore, entails a deep problem within his Ontological framework. The grid of Swabhava and Psychic Being accumulating chosen experiences further complicates the matter. Overall, the lack of autonomy on our part imparts a body blow to our individuality regardless of the lofty destiny outlined for it in the distant future by The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Surrender, finally, cuts away whatever is left. This may hold good in the Ashram situation but outside, one encounters difficulties at every step. Managing an ambivalent social image of oneself is a highly tricky task which runs the risk of being questioned for sanity.

This is nothing new in the path of Yoga but most of the time extremities are avoided through minor-seeming compromises. But on close scrutiny, one is never sure whether the diversion was also intended. Fortunately, we have The Mother's will to fall back upon irrespective of the consequence but spate of failures can lead to dilution of faith. The role of extraordinary persons often generates jealousy and confusion. Why the spiritually oriented are deprived of similar success never receives a satisfactory answer. Whether seeking the highest knowledge has a debilitating effect upon worldly ambitions still awaits a suitable explanation.

The question of latest empirical findings finding accommodation within philosophical traditions is attracting attention. This possibility seems remote so far as Sri Aurobindo's broad-strokes are concerned whereas The Mother's Mind of the Cells can have certain resonances. Besides, the pace of science being piecemeal and disjointed, adjusting the same within an integral picture is too ambitious and reckless. Yet, such ventures do cater to intellectual games and philosophical acrobatics. The followers of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo would find no attraction for such outright speculations. [TNM55]

Whether religion, like democracy, is legitimised by numbers

Excellent appraisal but at one place I felt inconvenient where you say Buddhism is gaining ground. The question is whether religion, like democracy, is legitimised by numbers although that is the most easily available and visible parameter for comparison or evaluation. [TNM55]

Religions which grew in pre-modern days have their own trajectories and time-frame. But a modern religion like Savitri Era ought to be different although many elements remain the same. The intellectual or Ontological underpinning is one major difference; the recent life-stories of the founders is another. The historical backdrops like the World Wars or Colonialism add a certain tension. Eminent contemporaries, moreover, provide diverse narratives for comparison.

Although, we have no means to display the results of Yoga practices as taught by The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, there is no ground to refute them either. Science has not been able to explain fully our existence within the Universe so far and hence relying upon Sri Aurobindian Ontology is the next best option. With all these advantages and swift communication mechanism, growth in numbers can come in a very short period with some message going viral in matter of a couple of hours. Sri Aurobindo perhaps alluded to such a situation by "hour of the unexpected." [TNM55]

The Life Divine and the human scene

Money and Power are legitimate elements that drive numerous vocations. Producing Quality work or deriving self-satisfaction are secondary factors. Earning a living or raising a family occupies the top of priorities. Social work or pursuing Arts are rare occurences. Spending is still restricted and hence the economic benifits don't reach the common people in India. Professionalism in many branches of the Service-sector is missing. Patronising handicrafts and cultural traditions is not widespread. Intellectual pursuits are mostly confined to respective professions.

Philosophical interrogation in India is still derivative and original inquiries are nonexistent. The large body of ancient works, on the one hand, and Sri Aurobindo's encyclopedic interpretations, on the other, leave little scope for fresh studies. The mythological upbringing of most in India blunts the critical faculty. Only miracle-seeking is doing good business which offers maximum profit with least investment. Religious-tourism is bursting at the seams being a major source of entertainment.

The basic human problems, however, linger despite myriad isms intervening. Modernity has not helped much in alleviating human suffering. Ashram goings on have burst many myths surrounding the efficacy of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. In such a scenario, one is forced to rely upon whatever little Science and Medicine brings or the politician distributes. [TNM55]

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sri Aurobindo's ideological highway against Nehruvian-Marxist-Hindutva narratives

It seems that RSS is expanding its intellectual reportoire beyond lambasting Marx and Macaulay as S. Gurumurthy recently tweeted criticising Weber and Popper: "India will go to pieces if Weberian and Popper theories are experimented and families and communities are disturbed. There will be no state." Being in power is probably forcing BJP & RSS to look beyond the Ram temple, Ram sethu, and Saraswati river. But, one wonders if Indian society is so fragile to be wrecked by worn out theories. No doubt, there are intellectual giants among Hindutva supporters but it's a mystery how they reconcile with mythological fiction and loads of superstition. Clinging to the falsehoods of tradition may be due to political compulsion and allied advantages but renouncing reason and its autonomy forces a serious temperamental and behavioural defect.

Sri Aurobindo was not happy about the RK Mission emphasis on Shankara's renunciation and Buddhist humanitarianism. Upon arrival of The Mother when the Ashram took shape in Puducherry, it was on the basis of enterprise and action. Many are insistent on Sri Aurobindo's debts from Vivekananda but the dissimimilarities are too many to be smoothly reconciled. His differences with Gandhi's fetish for nonviolence is well known. Tagore, he appreciated as a poet but not his political pronouncements or sociological assessments. Sri Aurobindo was also not in the same page with Theosophical Society. Further, despite his eulogy for Dayananda's pioneering work on Veda, he refrained from walking along the path of Arya Samaj.

Thus, the ideological highway that Sri Aurobindo had built independently, a Century back, remains as relevant as it used to be then. He provides a robust bulwark against the dominant Nehruvian-Marxist-Hindutva narratives across disciplines and social practices. The liberal and intellectually-anchored environment that he inaugurates is sure to blossom into a rejuvenated India leading the world in matters of collective progress and harmonious living transcending all differences. [TNM55]

Many isuues discussed above from testimony to applied ethics have been duly dealt with by Sri Aurobindo in his epochal book titled, “The Life Divine” which deserves to be the point of departure for any rethinking on the status (or progress, if you will) of Indian Philosophy. Why no one ever refers to his insights on this blog is certainly a mystery, which, I feel, must melt. Why blame science; philosophy not recognising philosophy itself is the culprit. Just imagine, how much you are deprived of by ignoring Sri Aurobindo here! [TNM55]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Individual is the key, underscores Sri Aurobindo

Pushing the envelope is perhaps the most appropriate daily task for the puny human intellect that adds to the collective Evolution. Individual is the key, underscores Sri Aurobindo, in the sense of the agency but the final causal source he locates in the Supermind. So, despite our best efforts, we remain clueless about the goings on surrounding us. Besides, a dramatic turn or an aesthetic circumstance also surprises us from time to time. So, to draw a representative picture of human life is impossible given the diversity concerning history, geography, and culture.

Literature or Psychology unveil only a fraction of our thinking; the rest remain buried in our minds. Dreams and Movies further complicate the matter relating to imagination. All this are very much a concrete part of human reality to the secret of which we have no access. The Spiritual paths recommended by The Mother & Sri Aurobindo too don't assure success by an individual. Further, pursuing excellence in job or business along with Spiritual practice is a tall order. The Gender factor poses many more impediments.

However, the overall scenario is not so pessimistic from the human point of view. That man is the highest conscious being on the planet and hence any happy change will unfold for and through him is a matter of considerable hope. For instance, incidents of successive air-crashes this month is undoubtedly spine-chilling but there must be some higher purpose and better prospects for the mankind hidden behind it. The unseen hand of Evolution is a sure actor in our midst and deciphering its choreography should engage the maximum of our attention. [TNM55]

Sai religion should go separate

The Sai Baba controversy of widespread encroaching upon Hindu temple premises promises to be interesting as well as intractable. This is perhaps the most formidable subversive attempt confronting the Hindu religion pushed insidiously. The Sai Baba empire has grown exponentially far and wide in recent years and certainly not by fair means. All kinds of corporate strategy has been employed to attract followers many of which were also replicated successfully in the recent Modi campaign. That man is succeptible to propaganda is a known phenomenon and whoever rides it can achieve his goal. Therefore, we have no complains against the Sai devotees; each person is free to pursue his faith. But the right course is to portray it as a separate religion and demand legal status as we Savitri Erans do. Else, corrupting another existing faith is not what decent people would do. Further, the question of real estate is also involved with cans of worms underneath.

Be that as it may, it's for the Parliament and the Judiciary to take a call but when it comes to personal level, changing religion, like in remarriage, leaves a scar. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, therefore, advise against swaying someone's faith. The so called Hindu religion has seen many reform movements and ideological wars but this Sai episode unfolds in a democratic, modern, and technologically sound atmosphere. Let's see how far reason and fairness prevails. It also poses a severe challenge for the RSS. [TNM55]

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sri Aurobindo gives the example of the monkey

RSS ideals, at present, are confined to building a Ram temple, a Patel statue, or running a Bullet train since the chances of establishing a Hindu empire covering the whole of South Asia seems remote. Sri Aurobindo's ideal, on the other hand, is human Perfection down to the lmmortality of body and Evolution of a harmonious community life. Obviously, there is a wide gap which appears unbridgeable but Sri Aurobindo gives the example of the monkey who never imagined man succeeding him. Even Google was unthinkable before 1998. Sri Aurobindo's objectives are thus political, practical, and truly materialistic; there is nothing mystical about it.

So, how to go about it? The Ashram model is merely a laboratory and hardly has any visibility or viability. The Internet, on the other hand, presents a huge opportunity to popularize the words of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo and people at all corners of the world coming under their influence. It's a collective effort as no one knows whose tweet or post will go viral one fine morning. We are facing a most ambitious communication challenge in this case and may soon meet success by the grace of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo alone is the answer

It's a fact that Sri Aurobindo as a political worker and writer found himself in affinity with Lal-Bal-Pal between 1906 and 1910. But his stature as a Philosopher and Seer-Poet far exceeds all his eminent contemporaries. Most educated people in India are either not equipped or too prejudiced to hold a just evaluation of Sri Aurobindo's place in history but that doesn't diminish his genius and greatness. Savitri and The Life Divine alone put him at the top of the world. The Mother was one person who could recognize him in advance in her very first meeting on March 29, 1914. Although outside politics, he had offered advice on several occasions which proves his foresight.

India today stands at crossroads unable to decide which way to go. RSS has discovered that a rigid Hindu-centric agenda is bound to face stiff resistance. The Congress decline has put Secularism under much suspicion. So the middle path, which Sri Aurobindo hewed a Century back, assumes immense significance. By cementing it with Judeo-Vedic Ontology, he makes it relevant, not only for modern India, but also for the whole world including Gaza. Thus, the task is how to understand it correctly and set our policies accordingly. There is no dearth of brain-power in our country now but escaping from the yoke of the past is proving arduous. [TNM55]

Role of culture in Sri Aurobindo's Yoga

The newspaper shapes us in many ways and draws the boundary of our interests and general awareness. Wellbeing is covered by many publications these days whereas focus on Books, Art, and Culture has nosedived. Colourful layout takes out the seriousness of occasional good peices on matters cerebral. Their catering to the public demand is, of course, not without justifications. Such is the level of public taste in India is that not even half its population is eager to read a newspaper. Struggle for earning livelihood relegates everything else to low priority and clamours of daily routine strangulates finer sensibilities.

Music, Art, and Poetry, reminds Sri Aurobindo, are like lubricants for the soul. These are culture-specific and come in diverse forms. The options are endless now in the age of Internet. But integrating appreciation within other loads of burden is not always possible. Differentiating between quality and mediocre offerings is also problematic. On the whole, an individual, despite sympathetic demeanour, is hard pressed to access the desired content at the opportune moment. Thus the push by Art, Literature, and Culture in Yoga goes only so far.

The growth of Google and Twitter etc. seem to be the zenith of human Civilization in terms of sharing sentiments and creativity. But without proper orientation on values like The Mother administers, most act like novices under pressure of instincts. Refining and sublimating the sentiments is a primary task and the lessons of Integral Yoga in this realm is unparalleled. It's true that one may not be able to practice all that The Mother & Sri Aurobindo teach but a good theoretical background goes a long way in helping face diverse circumstances in life. [TNM55]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Marx and Macaulay, Hegel or Whitehead

With the beginning of new College session, thousands of students will come to the Philosophy classes without any idea on the subject. It has no definite career prospects but even then those who have slim chances elsewhere study Philosophy. How far the subject equips them to handle knottier questions of life is not known but to swim with the subject in the present society is a strenuous task. Why Philosophy? Everyone wants an explanation leading to a final disapproval. This continues even after leaving the College.

Sri Aurobindo once wrote that he is not a philosopher and many take great delight in quoting it as if Philosophy is a weed. That he admitted of writing Philosophy is conveniently overlooked. Many of his stray remarks including conversational responses are quoted as though they are frozen in time and Sri Aurobindo stopped thinking thereafter. There is also a notion among the semi-educated that Philosophy is Mental and what they perform is Spiritual. The Mother's advice for adequate mental-gymnastics is safely forgotten.

There is danger from another side also who call themselves Nationalists. They can't tolerate anything Western, not even Hegel or Whitehead. The West is a pollutant and they banish Philosophy emanating from it lock, stock, and barrel. All they know is two names: Marx and Macaulay and pour vitriol on them at every available opportunity. They love their Mythological fiction and consider Philosophy as avoidable distraction. That Philosophy is alive in spite of all this is nothing short of a miracle. [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo's Yoga and the elderly

From error to terror, human life and society is prone to countless imperfections managing which has been the story of civilisation. Further, how we are wired and how much we draw from habits is a complex mix determining behavior. Yoga introduces the chaos factor; nothing remains the same as in the past, the future becomes unpredictable. By consenting to the intervention of certain cosmic forces, one submits before their plan and action. But there are risks too and hence the necessity of vigilance.

Since science and culture alter their paradigms almost on a continuous basis, it's not easy for an individual to cope up with. Advanced age spurs survival instinct and forces to compromise with values; dependence on others leads to dilution of principles. The function of Yoga here is all the more important for providing firm ideological pillars. A keen follower can surely receive right guidance during lean periods.

Youth is celebrated in Sri Aurobindo's Yoga and the elderly in the Ashram undergo regular physical culture. But exercising apex executive functions by them may not be a corollary as the sordid state of affairs in the Ashram at present prove. On the other hand, projecting a rosy picture of Yoga is also deceptive. Be like a flower is surely what The Mother counsels but camouflaging the rough edges of old age by flowery language is akin to resorting to a defence mechanism. [TNM55]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sri Aurobindo torpedoed his neatly knit Metaphysics

Many on Twitter speak with finality and forget Evolution. Life is a continuous opportunity for learning and altering our prejudices. Therefore, staying attuned to the right wavelength is crucial. Adorno will say one thing and Ambedkar another. Baudrillard will take on tour through strange territories and Roy Bhaskar will bring you back to surer shores. There is a drift in every thinker. Sri Aurobindo himself torpedoed his neatly knit Metaphysics of The Life Divine by introducing the Mind of Light a decade later. A series of essays that started with the significance of the body took a flight to the Mind of Light so unexpectedly.

Each one will come to Sri Aurobindo from the standpoint of his own understanding and beliefs. It's so unique that none of us is able to convince another. Further, mere intellectual concurring is not enough, the heart too must acquiesce. But the task of reading is common to all of us regardless of how much one agrees or assimilates. The Mantra aspect is also invoked when we read the writings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. We may refrain from scouting for firm philosophical formulations in them initially and revel in joyful swimming instead. [TNM55]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Indians demand genuine Democracy

The Congress is in doldrums today as it gave up ideology and latched on to Dynasty. AAP never felt the need of outlining its policies and paid the price. The BJP which came to power by dubious means is also unsure of firm principles and direction. The RSS which loves backroom operation is famous for its reticence and befuddling the people. In such an atmosphere, the Democracy in India is a mere eyewash. Media debates are more like Reality shows chasing TRP than triggering any real discourse among the public. The Constitutional machine runs without any genuine participation of the citizens. State satraps are ruling like erstwhile zamindars without having to stir much from their chairs. Corporate giants take advantage of their inaction and are encroaching more and more areas for commercial exploitation.

A number of institutions including Parliament are not functioning properly in India despite our having a most elaborate Constitutional framework. Ill-educated persons are managing crucial operations. Instead of respecting expertise and excellence, mediocrity is being patronised. Transparency remains a distant dream as responding to public criticism is rare. Overall, those who are at the helm of affairs are taking advantage of the helplessness of the common people. If such is the attitude of almost all political parties, then a severe churning may not be too far away. The people of India have already waited for too long; they cannot be deprived of a true Democratic dispensation. [TNM55]

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have gifted us thousands of pages

Eliot admired Pascal and Dante but couldn't recognise Sri Aurobindo, a contemporary. Yeats was instrumental in bringing out a new translation of the Gita and the Upanishads but Sri Aurobindo's Essays on them escaped his attention. Had Marcel been a bit aware of The Life Divine, his The Mystery of Being would have been much more profound and penetrating. These instances show how the human civilisation has been deprived of crucial interventions during the course of its history. The intention of Evolution in designing such hiatuses is unknown to us but then we know that the butterfly takes birth through different dissimilar stages.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have gifted us thousands of pages to read but their unusual life stories are of much more significance. The Ashram they established at Puducherry is undergoing some tension at present but the ideals it represents is intact for the future generation. ARYA, the monthly magazine they started in 1914 has its Centenary this year on August 15 and let's hope that all Indians will wake up to the occasion. [TNM55]

No better guide than Sri Aurobindo

[@svpr: So is his remark on Rig Veda, if he has made it. I do not need Aurobindo to read Veda, I can, Spent eight Years on it.]

Just because someone spent 8 years in studying the Veda, he doesn't need to read Sri Aurobindo's The Secret of the Veda. This is a sample of the pathetic mindset that many educated Indians suffer from. Instead of exploring diverse voices, one closes his mind and relies entirely on ancient texts and commentaries in alien languages. Certain Universities in the West too promote this antique-mania lending credibility to dubious content. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo advise to steer clear of past theological formulations keeping the future Evolution in mind.

Sri Aurobindo himself has spent a lot of energy in synthesizing the received strands of spiritual praxis in order to make them relevant to modern times. But his tone is never to prescribe and rather aimed at helping the individual to choose according to his age and stage. His writings give the orientation and then one is free to chart his own course. But discarding him ab initio is surely a blunder on the part of any accomplished scholar. There is no better guide than Sri Aurobindo in the present times, let's remember. [TNM55]

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Development needs appropriate Ontology

Faint murmurs of disenchantment with the new BJP Govt. is audible now from die hard supporters. That was expected. Governing a country like India is no joke and snatching votes with tall promises is sure to backfire. It took nearly a Century for RSS to capture power at the Centre and yet it has been found severely wanting on matters intellectual. No clarity on any issue is forthcoming from their think tanks.

Be that as it may, human problems have become so complex that it's not easy to tackle them. Many issues have international ramifications and technology choices add to the woe. So, we are not in a hurry to judge the performance of the new rulers. However, their Ontological illiteracy or Mythological dependency remains a concern and a potent threat.

Sri Aurobindo has endowed India with the most advanced and futuristic Metaphysical armament. Neglecting that and falling back upon worn out theories is fraught with acute danger. This is the anti-Evolutionary avenue which we have been crying hoarsh to warn against. Any sound model of Development must be backed by an appropriate Ontology. [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo overcomes the average

It's a common complain among many professionals that what they studied is hardly of any use in their jobs. In life too, we make do with our ordinary intelligence or common sense without accessing higher faculties in most situations. Even the best of creative vocations turn mechanical or stereotypical over a period of time. Artists and performers often miss the opportunity to exhibit their talent when in best form. Kierkegaard achieved popularity long after he was dead. Cartels and monopolies prevent fresh geniuses from getting attention. As common concerns are taken care of by an average mentality, people are habituated to inhabit that comfort zone and shirk unfamiliar territories.

On the face of it, Yoga appears anti-intellectual as it valorizes surrender but the reality is otherwise. A student of Sri Aurobindo is bound to encounter a series of stimulations throughout his life in various forms. Writings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo themselves are full of innumerable new ideas and aspirations. But to put them into practice is constrained by the surrounding and other human beings who are unaware of any higher ideal. [TNM55]

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yoga of Sri Aurobindo

Poets and Philosophers who have left behind substantial amount of writing are certainly not ordinary individuals. Apart from understanding the past works, they not only receive fresh ideas intuitively but also struggle to present them systematically for the future generation. The story of their inner lives is hardly known to others except in rare cases who recount autobiographical details. Foucault, in recent times, was a reclusive writer who handled diverse subjects authoritatively. The twist he gave to the concept of history is surely revolutionary. But when we compare him with Sri Aurobindo, the Yoga aspect is missing. The same is the case with Steiner, Gebser, or Wilber.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have recorded their forays into the occult worlds to dispel any doubt. None of us can check their veracity but it gives an idea as to how spirituality works and how it is different from common notions of self-realization. Their writings, therefore, stand at a higher level than the works of other great philosophers. Many would classify their output under the rubric of religion but such a distinction seems arbitrary before the Sri Aurobindian dictum, "All life is Yoga." [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo and the history of ideas

There is a lot of focus now on the history of History writing in India in the media in which Sri Aurobindo is often referred to for his stance on AIT (AMT, OIT). Sri Aurobindo wrote copious history but was no historian in the empiricist model. His visualizations of the past civilisations are broad strokes of human aspiration and Evolution. So, any literal interpretation of his utterances of a Century back are bound to lead to questionable inferences. Since many of Sri Aurobindo's books are independent works, reconciling them fruitfully too constitutes an onerous task.

Stress on India and to treat the West as a waste is an error; Sri Aurobindo never endorsed such an attitude. Hume is as important as Nagarjuna and Baudelaire is no less evocative than Tagore. Positivism, per se, need not be a pejorative nor postmodernism. History of ideas, both in Poetry and Philosophy as well as Management and Technology, are a treasure and must be studied diligently for deciphering the right path for the future. Fortunately, we have the guidance of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo on almost all spheres of life and action.

Values have been a debating point through the ages and Sri Aurobindo discovered the Veda as a valid starting point and source of codification in coded speech. Thus, by accommodating the normative within the Ontological frame, Sri Aurobindo has relinquished the dichotomy that is the bane of many theologies. The body, similarly, receives a special place in the scheme of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Such an ecosystem, surely, is not available elsewhere and it is imperative that Indians have a relook at Sri Aurobindo. [TNM55]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sri Aurobindo's paradigm

[To be fair, much of life works this way. We do not start out with argument. Long before we are able to reason and make arguments, we are immersed in a worldview we simply absorb, one we take for granted. This is the pre-philosophical world of “prejudices” in the Gadamerian sense, of “intuitions”, of Aristotle’s phainomena, indeed of common sense. We are in this world before we get to the first principles of any paradigm. Thus first principles are not first in a chronological sense – there is much that comes before them – but rather in the logical sense that demonstrative arguments follow from them. One may be convinced of the consequences of a first principle without having any understanding of the first principle itself.] ~Amod Lele

[So, is common sense rooted in principles, or do principles flow from common sense? And is common sense universal, or does it change from epoch to epoch, culture to culture, cable network to cable network? First, we had better define the term. Before looking it up, I would say that it must have to do with knowledge accessible to every normal man by virtue of being one. It is preconceptual, or archetypal if you are Jung at heart -- not quite knowledge, but ready to become so: pre-knowledge. In Bion's scheme, a preconception mates with experience in order to become a conception, and a conception goes on to become a grownup concept. ] ~Gagdad Bob

Sri Aurobindo was conscious of the poor response his writings receive in India and yet he persisted with his style and content. The Mother's conversations, similarly, are hardly read or discussed either in India or the West. So, nothing surprising as they introduce an altogether new paradigm that is too futuristic for the present generation. The burden of the past accentuated by Internet accumulation is so overwhelming that most are simply buried under it irrespective of interpolations and questionable authorships.

Students of Western metaphysics are discovering that their philosophy has not progressed much beyond Bergson, Alexander, or Whitehead. Sri Aurobindo's ARYA writings fall under the same timeframe which provides a formidable alternative. Sri Aurobindo's foray into the Veda, further, is an unparalleled adventure. The Mother's experiments with her body cells, similarly, forms a new interrogation of the human condition. To be conversant with these unknown territories needs curiosity and critical apparatus. But inculcating some sympathy and appreciation for Sri Aurobindo is essential at the outset. [TNM55]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sri Aurobindo fuses the past and the future

It's impossible to segregate the past influences from Sri Aurobindo's thought. The more one reads him and other authors, the more one confronts profusion of allusions and echoes. Perhaps, this is not surprising given the context of Western Romanticism and Indian Renaissance preceding his writings. The Colonial milieu, further, had imparted a definite tension and direction to a substantial portion of his oeuvre. However, the varied nature of his output establishes him as an outstanding thinker and superlative poet pursuing an Integral agenda.

Sri Aurobindo was convinced of India as the leader for the future humanity. That is at a time when it was under foreign rule and large sections of its population were uneducated. He was aware of the immense intellectual tradition of the West as well as India but was not unduly impressed by them. He charted out his own independent path that is aligned to the pulls of future Evolution. Past religions have exerted wrong effects upon our understanding of human existence and The Mother & Sri Aurobindo sought to correct it to the extent possible. 

Assimilating Sri Aurobindo's thought is not an easy task. 
To swim through his poetry is equally daunting. 
He is worth reading nevertheless,
As there is no other way at the moment. [TNM55]