Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ontological presuppositions of the Constitution of India

Ontological presuppositions contained in the Constitution of India are rarely discussed and the secularists’ glee in banishing religion from the affairs of the State is rather too facile. The Constitution itself is accorded a somewhat sacred status, and elaborate oath taking ceremonies are conducted ritualistically for defending its provisions. The hierarchy that it sets forth resembles the pattern spelled out in mythological stories.

Lockean liberalism, of course, is the chief inspiration. But, privileging patriotism and democracy errs on the side of Humean passion, whereas universal suffrage leans unreasonably more towards Kantian reason. This supposed advantage, however, is invalidated by the irrational motivations of the voters. [TNM]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nation has more nuances than geography

Reading the Sunday TOI's All That Matters was heart wrenching:

  • "Twenty years later: Why the Berlin Wall fell - S A Aiyar Sunday October 25, 2009 We are approaching the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism. This comprehensively refuted the Communist claim to represent the people... Czech author Milan Kundera says of the Communists, ‘‘They had a grandiose plan, a plan for a brand new world in which everyone would find his place: the creation of an idyll of justice for all. People have always aspired to an idyll, a garden where nightingales sing, a realm of harmony where the world does not rise up as a stranger against man, nor man against other men.’’
    Problem: this supposed paradise was imposed at gun-point."
  • "Weak Opposition and a sad state of affairs The Siege Within M J Akbar Sunday October 25, 2009 Rahul Gandhi is the perfect post-ideological politician. Those who think he is preaching to the choir are missing the point: a significant chunk of the electorate is tired of grand creeds... But disdain for ideology can make you indifferent to ideologues... The strength of nations has more nuances than the single dimension of geography."
  • "No ifs or buts, defeat Maoist violence - Gurcharan Das Sunday October 25, 2009 Arundhati Roy writes seductively. Recently, i picked up her new book, Listening to Grasshoppers, and was mesmerized by her luminous prose but i disagreed profoundly with her conclusion... Like many in the 1960s, i was a Leftist and admired Charu Mazumdar who had founded the Naxalbari movement. Although one belonged to that idealistic middle class generation, i was not tempted to abandon all and join the Maoists. Perhaps, it was because i lived in sensible Bombay rather than Calcutta. "
  • "How the BJP lost the central plot -Swapan Dasgupta Sunday October 25, 2009 the saffron outfit is too narrowly ideological and blessed with too many social angularities and prejudices of ‘Middle India’ to emerge as an alternative common sense. It is often seen to be insufficiently ‘inclusive’ and its appeal is felt to be unduly dependant on a rise in the emotional temperature. In a land of multiple gods and goddesses, the BJP has often conveyed a picture of rigid monotheism. Ashis Nandy has even suggested it is too European for accommodative Hindu tastes."

Aiyar & Akbar, Das & Dasgupta; all four have harped on the theme how ideology matters and a few degrees of deviation can lead us astray. Savitri Era Party firmly supports their sentiments and arguments. [TNM]

Illogical geographical segregation in philosophy

The Internet is an astounding platform where geographical distance and time lag collapses facilitating instant meeting of minds. Its contribution has been phenomenal as far as diffusion of knowledge and fermentation of new ideas is concerned. However, if one glances at the philosophy landscape, it seems as if we are living in 1009 CE and not in 2009. The segregation that the Westerners have safeguarded so far is simply illogical and downright repugnant.

The recent endorsement of Marx by a Vatican publication has expectedly caused ripples. Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx by D. P. Chattopadhyaya is an outstanding study in this context. [TNM]

Monday, October 26, 2009

There’s no reason to privilege mind

Blogging by Larval Subjects is a high point of Cyberspace:

  • "Graham, of course, has had a decisive impact on my thought and has led me to read figures such as Zubiri, Bhaskar, and Latour. Mel introduced me to Latour, Kittler, Ong, Bogost, and a whole host of other thinkers. Shaviro got me back into Whitehead. And so on." October 22, 2009 Speculative Realism, Armies of Objects, and the Social Sciences
  • "However, if the last 300 years of philosophy have shown us anything, it has shown us that we do not have any direct or immanent or immediate access to our own minds. As Lacan liked to say, following Freud, the subject is split. This is true even in Kant, as can be seen in both the paralogisms and the the deduction where Kant distinguishes between the subject as phenomena to itself, the transcendental unity of apperception, and the subject in-itself. Similarly, phenomenology increasingly discovered just how elusive givenness is in intuition, or how there is no immediacy in consciousness.
    Yet if we follow through the implications of these points, then it would seem that there’s no reason to privilege mind (or some variant thereof) in our transcendental arguments." October 22, 2009
    Transcendental Realism?
  • "To be quite honest, I’m rather surprised that certain philosophers of religion and theologians haven’t exploited this point when characterizing me as the wicked, secular-humanist, materialist atheist.
    For if the ontic principle is rigorously followed through, then there’s nothing that allows me to prohibit God, and other things besides, from the order of being. A theology or philosophy of religion premised on the ontic principle might lead to some surprising results contrary to traditional theistic conceptions of God where God overdetermines everything else, but the very coordinates of my thought prevent me from excluding the divine as productive of difference... I also suspect that this is the reason that some theologians and philosophers of religion have been rather enthusiastic about object-oriented ontology and the ontic principle.
    In the end, I take it that as leaky as my ship is, this capacity to surprise is the mark of a good philosophy or ontology. Since I first formulated the ontic principle in January or February, I’ve been on a witches broom of thought, no longer knowing where I’m being led or am going. In other words, my basic ontological commitments might not only be surprising to others, but are surprising to me as I carry out their implications. I do not take this as a negative thing, but as precisely what a philosophy should do."
    Realism is not a Synonym for Materialism

Let's hope that the logic of Larval Subjects finally rams into Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine. [TNM]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

No one yet knows for certain what exactly Sri Aurobindo says

The judgmental spirit has overtaken us; a magisterial impulse. Everyone is on a spree to pass verdicts on anything under the sun. It seems that years of fear and suppression has found a vent as more and more of us are mustering courage to contribute to a discursive environment.

The difficulties are many. For instance, the complete works of Sri Aurobindo are yet to come out. So, no one can claim that he has gone through the Master’s entire oeuvre. In other words, no one yet knows for certain what exactly Sri Aurobindo says.

The publishing programme thus far has adopted an ivory tower approach. Evidently, complains and criticisms are surfacing. Involving informed users would go a long way in making the books blemish free in future.

Writings apart, the dynamics of interaction among the followers needs to be adequately debated upon and suitable structural apparatus put in place. Espousing a democratic and tolerant milieu for relating to The Mother & Sri Aurobindo at diverse levels is also a cardinal requisite.

Sri Aurobindian ontology and its socio-political implications is an unfolding story for which we need to be patient and polite without betting on any kind of finality. What all we have been told so far are just hints and allusions, and hence it would be foolish to make them prestige issues.

Public pronouncements by the followers, therefore, should be made after careful consideration of the matter. While commenting on socio-economic issues, responsibility should be assumed by disclosing full name, address and profession. Otherwise many a time, it looks like a childish hit-and-run tactic. [TNM-241009-Sat]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dialogical in Sri Aurobindo and Habermas

Affirming "We are all in his debt," on J├╝rgen Habermas’s eightieth birthday (The philosopher-citizen 6:39 PM), Charles Taylor underscores several points:

  • "Whereas for Kant the principal criterion of a rational and therefore defensible deliberation was that it was sought universalizable maxims, for Habermas the very notion of deliberation is transformed."
  • "In other words, for Habermas, ethical deliberation is primarily social, dialogical; it is worked out between agents."
  • "Drawing on the work of Weber, Habermas sees modernity as having brought about a transformation in our understanding of reason."
  • "For Plato and much of the Western tradition, reason is a single faculty or power which can strive to define not only the True, but also the Good and the Beautiful. That is, the same reason can establish the shape of all the important dimensions of human life: establishing what really is, deciding what we ought to do, and determining what is truly beautiful. We might speak of the scientific, the moral and the aesthetic dimensions of human life. What Habermas proposes in the place of this is not, as we have seen, a restriction of reason to the scientific domain, and a relegation of morals and aesthetics to the arbitration of emotion or subjective taste. Rather it is a diversification of the very procedures of reason."

Sri Aurobindo too expounded on a similar need for diversification and self-enlargement in the last issue of Arya (January 1921) as below:

  • "The German thinker’s idea that there is a categorical imperative laid upon man to seek after the right and good, an insistent law of right conduct, but no categorical imperative of the Oversoul compelling him to seek after the beautiful or the true, after a law of right beauty and harmony and right knowledge, is a singular misprision. It is a false deduction born of too much preoccupation with the transitional movement of man's mind and, there too, only with one side of its complex phenomena. The Indian thinkers had a wiser sight who, while conceding right ethical being and conduct as a first need, still considered knowledge to be the greater ultimate demand, the indispensable condition, and much nearer to a full seeing came that larger experience of theirs that either through an urge towards absolute knowledge or a pure impersonality of the will or an ecstasy of divine love and absolute delight, — and even through an absorbing concentration of the psychical and the vital and physical being, — the soul turns towards the Supreme and that on each part of our self and nature and consciousness there can come a call and irresistible attraction of the Divine. Indeed, an uplift of all these, an imperative of the Divine upon all the ways of our being, is the impetus of self-enlargement to a complete, an integralising possession of God, freedom and immortality, and that therefore is the highest law of our nature." (Page-214, The Higher Lines Of Truth Part II, The Problem of Rebirth)

It is interesting to note that the Arya began with an invocation to the Kantian categories of God, freedom and immortality in the opening paragraph of The Life Divine, and the scrutiny was on even in the last issue and remained inconclusive. [TNM-201009]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ancient India fables

[Sri Aurobindo on the nature of true democracy
by Paulette
Auroville Today August 2004
Sri Aurobindo saw history as unfolding cycles... Ancient India was the repository of the highest form of democracy: the Sacred determined the political and social order... Before the sixth century B.C there were republican states as well, contemporary to the Greek city-states; those with a strong organisation lasted until the beginning of the Christian era. Afterwards these too were replaced by the monarchical state. In the simpler as in the complex polities none of the social orders was predominant; nor was uniformity needed. The social, political and economic dharma and its artha shastra harmonised the pre-existent patterns with newly evolved ones. The State stood for co-ordination, with no right of infringing on the autonomous functioning of the varnas (social classes), kulas (clan families), sanghas (spiritual communities) or any polity. From king to servant, all were bound to maintain the dharma.
At a latter stage the rishis envisaged a unifying political rule by a universal emperor (cakravartin), yet without destroying the self-governance of the autonomous polities; although there is no evidence of its application. ]

Such neat visualisations evoke suspicion. [TNM]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sri Aurobindo too manicured away many 'awkward' historical facts

[Sri Aurobindo idealized ancient India in a similar way as Heidegger did the ancient Greeks. However with respect to the Enlightenment tradition although Aurobindo critiques its rational foundations he does show a respect for the values of the Enlightenment (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) and does seem to adopt its progressive view of civilization. by Tony Clifton on Sat 17 Oct 2009 04:06 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Re: John D. Caputo: A Postmodern, Prophetic, Liberal American in Paris by Michael E. Zimmerman, Continental Philosophy Review, 31 (Spring, 1998), 195-214. Science, Culture and Integral Yoga]

Sri Aurobindo too manicured away many 'awkward' historical facts from his narratives, as critiqued by D. P. Chattopadhyaya in Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx. [TNM]

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo are not accorded the central role

[Sri Aurobindo does concur with the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that the Divine is ultimately single and unitary, and that It represents itself in humans as immortal souls. However, he prefers the Hindu metaphysic of polymorphous monotheism, according to which the one God can differentiate itself into in a plethora of attenuated forms, vehicles, creations, forces, and beings. So, in summary, Sri Aurobindo believes that God made all, all is God, God is in all and also beyond all, the All is all growing, God is growing in all, and we are all growing into God. Towards a spiritual psychology Bridging psychodynamic psychotherapy with integral yoga
Michael Miovic
Consciousness and Its Transformation Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001)]

[Sri Aurobindo calls the soul the “psychic being”, coining his term from the Greek root psyche, and defines it as the true and eternal entity within us that is part of the Divine and persists after the body dies. Sri Aurobindo concurs with the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that God (the Divine) is ultimately the sole reality and supreme being. However, he prefers the Hindu metaphysic of polymorphous monotheism, which generously allows the one God to differentiate into the multitudinous forms, beings, and forces of the spiritual and material worlds. This kind of God is simultaneously transcendent, immanent in all creation, and personally present for the individual according to the needs of his/her character and culture. Sri Aurobindo does accept the Hindu notion of reincarnation, but places a new emphasis on the evolutionary aim of the Divine plan. That is, he believes that the purpose of reincarnation is not to prepare the soul to transcend the cycle of karma (as in the classical definition of nirvana), but to increase the soul’s capacity to perfect life in the world. Indeed, he argues that this evolution of consciousness is the spiritual force driving the evolution of biological forms that are increasingly able to express it (e.g., the evolution of the mammalian brain culminating in the human brain). TOWARDS A SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY: Bridging Psychotherapy with the Yoga Psychology of Sri Aurobindo
Michael Miovic, M.D.
A Journal of Integral studies - February 2005]

In such an ontological frame, The Mother & Sri Aurobindo are not accorded the central role. [TNM]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"East-West synthesis" traces its genealogy to Sri Aurobindo

[It is a historical fact that Wilber and others have interpreted Aurobindo in particular ways, have borrowed wholesale major concepts from Aurobindo's work (certain of which Aurobindo in my view had himself borrowed from others), and put them forward in particular terms. This cannot be undone, and it is not my responsibility. My position is that if one wants to understand how "integral theory" works, with an eye toward transforming it into something of practical use for authentic transformation, one needs to examine the methodology and assumptions that underlie it. Many of those assumptions are said to have originated in Aurobindo; Aurobindo is a claimed antecedent, certainly among the most important, arguably the most important. (title unknown)
from For The Turnstiles by DGA]

[To adapt a meme attributed to Whitehead: if European philosophy amounts to a footnoting of Plato, Integral theory may very well amount to a conversation about Aurobindo. This bit of context foregrounds Aurobindo’s achievement: while philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche responded to Asian ideas in European terms, the notion of an "East-West synthesis" traces its genealogy to Aurobindo Ghose. Of Syntheses and Surprises: Toward a Critical Integral Theory Daniel Gustav Anderson (published in The Integral Review, Issue 3, 2006)]

[Sri Aurobindo and his co-worker the Mother have provided us with the first complete Integral spirituality and post-intellectual Integral teaching and praxis, and thus the promise of an integral divinisation of the physical body and the Earth consciousness as a whole. Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral, Part Four, Alan Kazlev integral world]

[The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo is perhaps the greatest single work of philosophy ever written, a vast and often repetitive work that provides a powerful alternative to both materialism and asceticism: a world affirming evolutionary spirituality culminating in the Divinisation of the physical world. It is a shame that the turgid 19th century style puts off many, for lighter reading I would suggest Letters on Yoga. or just read the last four chapters. This book, together with Mother's Agenda and more recently Synthesis of Yoga, defined my own worldview and spirituality, and still does, although now I am less of an Aurobindo-fundamentalist and am incorporating other perspectives. Nevertheless, if there is one book alone that I would suggest you read to appreciate the Integral Paradigm, this is the one. An Informal Integral Canon - Selected books on Integral Philosophy page by M.Alan Kazlev. last modified 18 August 2009]

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo are the peak from whichever angle we look. [TNM]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spend some time in the Aurobindian archive

[For The Turnstiles By DGA - My position is that Aurobindo is a writer of significance, a major cultural figure, who is sadly under-read by those who are not his disciples.... If one is concerned that Aurobindo is not represented properly or fairly or in a balanced way in academic discourse (I am such a one), spend some time in the Aurobindian archive, develop a worthwhile question, do your research, and publish your findings. For The Turnstiles]

Thank you, Anderson. [TNM]

Not Hindu ashram

[Hindus welcome rapper Kanye West's plan of retreat in Hindu ashram in India Little About (blog)
Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, welcoming West's reported plan to stay in Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry to ...]
Sri Aurobindo Ashram is no Hindu ashram. [TNM]

Religion, language and region

[Guard against politics of religion, language and region: Sonia
Times of India - Vishwas Kothari - ‎KOLHAPUR: In a veiled reference to rival Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said here that people need to ask those who play politics of votes in the name of religion, language and region, as to what work they did for Maharashtra ...]

What is politics then? one wonders. [TNM]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shed emotional bonding with past religious icons

[Savitri: the Light of the Supreme Re: The Gita on Avatarhood
on Fri 09 Oct 2009 07:56 AM IST
Profile Permanent Link
Sri Aurobindo is more than his works, prose or poetry, including perhaps his Savitri. And didn’t he say, apropos of his Arya-writing, that had he continued it, not for seven but seventy years, still his knowledge would not have been exhausted? In The Life Divine he has taken a certain stand to present a certain point of view for a certain type of the soul-need, which does not make it sole or absolute or exclusive in every sense. This is true in other works also. by RY Deshpande on Thu 08 Oct 2009]

Re: The Gita on Avatarhood
Tusar N. Mohapatra on Sat 10 Oct 2009 08:57 AM IST Profile Permanent Link

The word "Avatar" is intrinsic to a specific ontology. The question is whether we, the followers of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, should accept that or try to erect one that would serve us best.

When The Mother wrote, "He whom we saw yesterday is on earth," a new era began. Past poetic speculations are certainly a guide, but not necessarily binding. An ontology centered around The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is definitely possible if we are willing to shed our emotional bonding with past religious icons. [TNM] Reply

Friday, October 09, 2009

How to choose a leader

[AMBANI DISPUTE: The finance minister advised the feuding Ambani brothers to reflect on the impact their quarrel is having on the corporate sector, days before they face off in the Supreme Court in a dispute over the sharing of gas from the KG Basin. An old friend of the Ambani family, Mr Mukherjee reminded Mukesh and Anil that their dispute “is not merely an individual matter” and hoped that "good sense would prevail on the two brothers.” Economy to pick up pace from 2nd half: Pranab Mukherjee
Economic Times - Andy Mukherjee]

['Loyalist' Venkaiah thickens Advani quit plot
Calcutta Telegraph - New Delhi, Oct. 8: LK Advani “loyalist” M. Venkaiah Naidu has indicated that Advani will quit as leader of the Opposition at a time of his choosing,]

Not only the Ambani brothers, leadership struggle is currently an integral part of every political party. Even our professedly Hindu parties have no clue as to how to choose a leader in consonance with traditional wisdom. [TNM]

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo and Ramana Maharishi

[Hardselling Gandhi®- Hindustan Times: As a philosopher, Ramchandra Gandhi explored how Gandhi was a product of — as well as a departure from — the long line of modern Hindu spiritualists that begins with Ramakrishna and includes such figures as Sri Aurobindo and Ramana Maharishi. Ramachandra Guha, October 06, 2009]
Ramachandra Guha, it seems, is aware of Sri Aurobindo. [TNM]

Monday, October 05, 2009

How in heavens to do you translate 'daiya!'?

[Google Reader (14): We might run our governments in English and write our balance sheets in Roman, but we sing, cry, laugh and love in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Kashmiri, Tamil or any of the innumerable mother tongues with which our nation is blessed. A paean to India's melody queen
from M.J. Akbar - Author and Veteran Journalist by M J Akbar Appeared in Times of India - October 4, 2009]
Blessed or cursed? [TNM]

Socratic nook

[Google Reader (51): Comments from Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects
In light of recent events, and after lots of reflection and a good deal of regret, I have decided to follow the advice of a number of you and turn off the comments section on Larval Subjects.]

As one of the most invigorating spaces, this would be shortlived, one wishes. [TNM]

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Buddha disinformation

from Tusar N. Mohapatra to Jagannath Chatterjee
date3 October 2009 10:18
subject Re: [DevComm] Orissa is the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
The popular notion of Buddha, like many relics of the past, is a myth. Emotional bonding with a certain legend is a childlike quality and hence harmless, but to prop it with rational seeming proofs is a political misadventure likely to spread disinformation.
Reading the works of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo can teach us many things. Rectitude in thought is one of them. [TNM]

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Karlekar's own clan is no less responsible

[The Pioneer > Online Edition : >> A nation in amnesia: OPED Thursday, October 1, 2009 Email Print
A nation in amnesia
Hiranmay Karlekar
Why pundits ignore Sri Aurobindo’s vision
Prof Sachidananda Mohanty says in his well-written and painstakingly-researched work, Sri Aurobindo: A Contemporary Reader (Routledge), “I have often wondered why university intellectuals are reluctant to engage with Sri Aurobindo.” ... However carefully nuanced Marx’s critique, his rejection of religion was total; so was that by Marxist intellectuals, whose influence grew in a great measure because of the support of the entire global and Indian Communist movements behind them. On the other hand, the Vedantic tradition no longer had a charismatic leader like Swami Vivekanand and Sri Aurobindo or a stalwart literary and mystical figure like Rabindranath Tagore. Finally, given the growing complexity of modern societies and the increasing importance social, political, administrative and economic activity, subjects related to these commanded precedence in the universities. Growing specialisation in the academic world left one with little time for anything-including one’s own spiritual heritage and its exponents — outside one’s own discipline. This is an absolute shame. Sri Aurobindo’s universal and cosmic vision has much to offer to a troubled world.]
Karlekar's own clan is no less responsible for neglect of Sri Aurobindo. [TNM]