Friday, February 21, 2020

Sri Aurobindo's theoretical salience

The West has produced hundreds of thinkers and philosophers over the last three thousand years who are part of academic discourse. But in India we hardly find anyone with original contribution to Theory except Sri Aurobindo. Foreign authors, obviously, ignore his contributions and Indian scholars don't find quoting him respectable or credible. Thus, his insights are still unknown and no one feels excited to foreground his arguments. Here are a few important points:

1. Evolution - Darwin's theory of Evolution had volcanic effect on the world of thought. Sri Aurobindo, however, accommodated it effortlessly within his Ontological framework.
2. Subconscious - Freud popularised hidden aspects of Consciousness which Sri Aurobindo expanded in great detail. He perhaps delineated Myers' Subliminal too.
3. Matter - Comte, Feuerbach and Marx espoused positivism and materialism flourished. Sri Aurobindo insisted not only on Divine origin of matter but also its Sublime destiny.
4. Vitalism - Revolt against Hegel prompted many like Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Bergson to forward vitalistic theories but Sri Aurobindo refused to concur citing causal Spiritual impulsion.
5. Overman - Nietzsche taking cue from Carlyle and Emerson proposed advent of Overman but Sri Aurobindo modified it to a more enlightened mould confoming to Vedic framework.
6. Poetry - Schiller, Coleridge, and Arnold have spoken high of poetry but Sri Aurobindo believed in its Mantric power for transforming Consciousness with creative potentialities.
7. The Veda - Sri Aurobindo revealed that the Vedic deities are nothing but different rungs of the ladder of Consciousness. This interpretation nullifies Mythology and Rituals.
8. Integral Advaita - Building on the above clue and by yoking it to Evolution, Sri Aurobindo presented his grand metaphysical system resembling Plotinus as well as Kashmiri Shaivism, to some extent.
9. World Union - Sri Aurobindo observed that people are opting for bigger and bigger collectives. He, like Kant before him, predicts different nations coming together under the umbrella of a World Union federation.
10. Spirituality - Sri Aurobindo also foresaw that present religions are on their deathbed and a universal spirit of fraternity based on spiritual unity will pervade humanity. This, he is confident, is an Evolutionary inevitability.
11. Science - Tools and methods of science are limited, reminds Sri Aurobindo. He emphasized upon higher methods of perception, like intuition, than mere rational approach. Logic of the Infinite.
12. Grace - Despite building formidable theoretical scaffoldings, Sri Aurobindo doesn't hesitate to accord an indispensable role to the Grace of The Divine Mother. Even, Upanishads avoided the grace element, wrote S.K. Maitra. Christianity has problems with the Divine Mother as Supreme.

Many of his contemporaries like Teilhard de Chardin, Samuel Alexander, A.N. Whitehead, and Jean Gebser have developed theories independently having some resemblance to Sri Aurobindo's. The Mother too worked on Divinisation of body, in line with Vedic Immortality, all through her life. The Life Divine, however, remains a possibility for the future as part of Vedic Evolutionary scheme. Right now Uber cabs are plying; Uberman may come flying.

Tusar Nath Mohapatra
February 21, 2020 (Fri)
(File pic at Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Delhi Branch)

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