Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eschew muscular nationalism

[That Germany is an issue to German philosophers, I think this is due to the late emergence of Germany as nation in terms of European history. Similarly, Italy is a big issue for Machiavelli. For students of philosophy disinterested in Germany, Heidegger's insights into Aristotle stand on their own, irrespective of his moral failures. (title unknown) - by enowning on Dec 31, 2011 6:24 AM]

The mythology, nevertheless, persists, be it Heidegger, Paul de Man, or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, nearer home. The war against Hitler continues in various forms and this is a civilisational challenge for each one to espouse evolutionary causes and eschew muscular nationalism. [TNM55]

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thou shalt not shrink

Division of labour constitutes the warp and woof of creation and the gender difference on this score is no surprise. The Mother, however, was opposed to this distinction and used to encourage behavioural parity and occupational levelling. Even then, stereotypes continue to this day and segregation occurs in response to aptitude, merit, safety etc. This phenomenon in the world outside, expectedly, is much more prominent, and hence, software development employs a disproportionate number of women these days than the shop-floor. Even, The Mother's erstwhile impression about football is a reflection of the dichotomy between hard and soft options obtaining in almost all fields.

The way we have often argued that The Mother & Sri Aurobindo can't be restricted to their writings alone, their yoga too is not all about what transpires in the Ashram. Thus, a universal conception of yoga encompassing all of life, however, can't be said to be free from the virus of gender duality. Shrinking from jobs that are dirty or difficult is a commonly observed reflex in this context and dwelling upon beauty, for instance, might explain as a mere defence mechanism. Age and gender are crucial factors, therefore, in choosing to grapple with more adventurous and less advantageous aspects of life. Integral Yoga, if infected by involuntary amnesia or wonted omission, can hardly justify its own label. Confronting the cyclone Thane should be as important as making an ikebana vase, in this sense. [TNM55]

All life is divine

[The Life Divine projects this life as a game of gamble, where the immutable Spirit has thrown itself in to the mutable Matter, this bodily mansion, as great adventurer with destiny’s dice.
Sub: January 2012 issue of The Descent/Second revised Hand Book of The Life Divine. ]

It's surely a labour of love on the part of the compiler, but from the reader's point of view, this abridgement doesn't make The Life Divine any more accessible. Same is the case with the blog postings by sriaurobindostudies. Further, such compilations take away the charm of Sri Aurobindo's prose. Theme based commentaries and comparative metaphysics in concise form, rather, can engage new readers and stimulate thinking.

Thanks, however, for turning the focus on this incomparable book and its compelling content which each and every student should return to. [TNM55]

Manifestation matters

Combing the Net and watching its growing reach since 2005 has, understandably, been educative in a number of ways. But, absence of people advocating the worldview of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo has come as a great disappointment. Not a single journalist or columnist, not a single scholar or public figure in the whole country today speaks for Sri Aurobindo. What an opportunistic disdain for authenticity and quality! What a gigantic tragedy!

Centres across the country are busy with building construction, tax exemption, or such other mundane activities. Wellness retreats on contributory basis is a hot option for many institutions now. Education and culture remain the priority areas while much timidity prevails to take up social causes or rake up political issues.

The salience of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo lies in the fact that they are more interested in the manifestation and not in the occult alone. This almost matches with the definition that Politics is the art of the possible. Thus, if our objective is facilitating a harmonious collective life upon the planet, then politics as its dominant means can't be eschewed or overlooked. Besides, mistaking meditation as the sole tool of perfection also needs to be brought home. [TNM55]

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Those who disclose their experiences

Spirituality for a seventeen year old, more concerned with peers and careers, tends to be a subordinate proposition. The refined and somewhat fancy modes of religion has an attraction but what comes with the bargain is an overdose of ontological formulations, which, obviously, seem burdensome. The information, per se, may not be that irrelevant, and, in fact, teenagers process an avalanche of data as part of their studies and general awareness, but the vocabulary and the abstract notions turn it repellent.

Those who disclose and publish their experiences in public should understand that that helps no one. Firstly, one's own classifications and labelling may not be correct, and hence, misleading; and secondly, it prejudices others and intimidates the freshers. Further, there is no dearth of fictional literature of similar nature, and so, the veracity of such accounts bears a question mark, especially when the person's identity and address is unknown. Lastly, the propensity of such persons to broach subversive subjects on a routine basis raises doubts about their intentions. [TNM55]

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Savitri Era alternative

[Another important incident is revealed by Sri Aurobindo's biography (Published by Publication Division in the series of Builders of Modern India, by M.P. Pandit 1983 P.270) that Hedgewar the then secretary of C P Provincial Congress went to Pondicherry to draw back Aurobindo, who had been living sequesteral life since 1910 and was considered by Hedgewar as only alternative to fill the lull created by Tilak's death before the Nagpur Congress, in to politics. Hedgewar requested him to accept the Presidentship of the Congress in that hour of great crisis of leadership. Being a pioneer of cultural renaissance and a man of non compromising character, Aurobindo was fittest person to lead the Congress and freedom struggle. However Aurobindo moderately declined. (Explanatory letter of Sri Aurobindo dated August 30, 1920, Sri Aurobindo himself Vol.26, P.432-34, Sri Aurobindo birth centenary library). Author : Rakesh Sinha]

[But mostly the association of Indian civilisation with spirituality seemed mulishly insistent, which could be slippery in the context of nationalist activism. Swami Vivekananda, who interpreted India to the West in nationalist idioms, sought to strike a balance between the spiritual and the material. For, mere reflective spirituality could be a recipe for retreat; what Indians needed was “nerves of steel”; and if Indians needed to learn from the West, the West too had much to learn from the East. It was a striking riposte to the familiar colonial prose. Aurobindo, a revolutionary who turned a philosopher-sage, developed the same idea, though at a more abstract level, and highlighted the difference between the East and the West without conceding the inferiority of the former. B. SURENDRA RAO]

[The renaissance in thought initiated by Bankim Chatterjee, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Dr. Ambedkar, and Mahatma Gandhi in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in harmonizing the material growth and spiritual advancement, was aborted after 1950 when the Soviet Union’s influence took hold in the academia and intellectual discourse. Dr. Swamy's Keynote address points to the Twentieth Congress of Vedanta at JNU Campus, December 28 2011]

[On the high-role of the epics in forming and sustaining the collective life, Sri Aurobindo too, in line with his above cited contemporaries, saw them as vehicles of popular culture and as instruments that made available to the masses in a simple language and colourful manner the deep and arcane knowledge contained in the Vedas, Upanishads and other such texts: - Anirban Ganguly, Research Associate, VIF]

One major challenge at Savitri Era is to decouple the role of Sri Aurobindo from this brand of meta-narrative, and it is not an easy task. The fact that no one is bothered by such characterisation of him is an alarming aspect. In fact, it suits many factions and they are rather happy about it. Sri Aurobindo's writings on Indian culture and his commentaries on religious texts come handy for these sections to appropriate him for their muscular nationalism and civilisational chauvinism.

"Sri Aurobindo belongs to the future," and his message is universal. Attempting to bind him to any past religion or particular nation is anachronistic as well as anomalous. No doubt, his teaching valorises the wisdom emerging from ancient India, but he makes them relevant for the whole world. Along with The Mother, he produces a synthesis encompassing the aesthetic, intellectual, and religious needs of man irrespective of caste, race, or culture.

Leftists in India are sympathetic towards Islam and Western thought wrestles with Christianity. Hindutva has a well oiled machine (Meera Nanda), and the media plays a friendly tournament with religion. Thus, there are no takers for the alternative Sri Aurobindo offers, and in the absence of institutional support perversions and prejudices sprout. [TNM55]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The rest are anathema

The word evolution reminds us of Darwin and transports us back to dinosaurs and Neanderthals. But, instead of pondering over the state of affairs two hundred million years ago or even two centuries back, we can as well concentrate upon the next two years and how we are going to shape our lives in consonance with the evolution that is at work concurrently and incessantly. Let the wise men debate over the intelligent design vs. evolution endlessly, let the New Atheists rant against the creator to their fill, and let the realists speculate against correlationism by churning out n number of books; inviting evolution to our day to day lives, instead, is a much more meaningful task. Theory, of course, is important to discriminate the helpful from the undesirable, but falling prey to hype and rhetoric is also a danger. Eventising and Kolaverising that can pulverise the collective intelligence too need to be guarded against.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, in such a confusing scenario, are a pillar of strength and a fount of hope. What they gifted us in black and white are a source of endless light and unfathomable delight. They, alone, in the whole history of mankind, have uttered what is true and what is right. To be with their words is to side with the evolution. The choice, thus, is absolutely simple and the message, crystal clear. [TNM55]

Monday, December 26, 2011

Salvation vs. Evolution

A myth propagated by the traditional yoga systems is that the seeker will hit the jackpot some day and have Self-realization. In Integral Yoga, on the contrary, progress is continuous and cumulative with no particular date as destination. Thus, while traditional yoga employs the bait of personal accomplishment, in Integral Yoga the motivation is collective and curative. This ontological dichotomy ensues from the premise of Moksha or individual salvation vs. universal evolution.

Further, meditation and other techniques of yoga are indispensable for old systems while Integral Yoga primarily relies on surrender. The bottom-up Kundalini of the old is perceived in Integral Yoga as the Grace acting from above in top-down fashion. Overall, instead of personal askesis, Integral Yoga is anchored to the Divine will and in being a willing participant in its progressive manifestation. [TNM55]

Impatience with the past

For the very same reason that Sri Aurobindo's highest realisation coincides with his death, all his writings have to be seen in an analytical, and not literal, manner. The way he has revised some of his writings beyond recognition is a firm pointer to his impatience with the past and insistence on testing assertions upon the touchstone of what is evolutionarily viable or desirable. Stressing that sadhana is "precisely a struggle between the powers of Light and Darkness" (35.635), he hastens to embed it in a historical context: "At each step something has to be conquered" (ibid). So, the question is, how much we have won collectively as this year draws to a close.

Digging into museums or palm leaves archives might be academic activities, but when aligned with aspiration become a drag. Celebrating sundry festivals, likewise, can have toxic effect on our collaboration and retard evolution. The rejection aspect, therefore, assumes importance, for, through a rigid regimen only leash can be put on to certain playful habits and innocuous occupations. Many a normal function of ours will fail to pass once this test is applied and such small victories will surely add up to larger conquests in the long run. [TNM55]

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The call of the future

While on the one hand he attained the acme of his lifelong quest on December 5, 1950, it also became imperative for Sri Aurobindo on the other hand, to leave his body. We can never understand the inside story of this mystery, but this simultaneous victory and defeat constitutes a momentous event in the history of mankind. That the lever of the next evolution has been pulled successfully was confirmed by The Mother through a subsequent breakthrough on February 29, 1956. Besides, it is not without significance that when large parts of the world was engulfed in turmoil in 1968, Auroville blossomed upon the earth with the promise of a new future. Although, The Mother is no more with us for almost four decades, aspirants across the globe invoke her presence and inspiration on a daily basis as though nothing else is more worthwhile in their lives. This also forms collaboration with the earth atmosphere for a leap forward into the next level of evolution.

India, with its 1.21b population, has turned a veritable melting pot with the onset of market economy and cutting edge communication. Plurality of languages, however, is still a bottleneck for spreading messages. The call of the future, nevertheless, would find its medium and nothing is at stake if we are by the side of the time. [TNM55]

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Aspiration is propelled by the emission of the past

It is said that there is no better way of learning a new language than start speaking it. The same holds true for aspiration, the cornerstone of Integral Yoga. Life is full of hopes and ambitions, no doubt, but aspiration for something unimagined and impossible is surely a heroic task. Further, to sustain it over the years and valorise it against all odds is no mean job.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have been categorical about this first and foremost necessity. Perfection is our birthright; we must achieve it. Harmony is our destination; we must arrive there. Such intense aspiration, however, is best propelled by the emission of the past. By cutting asunder all ancient shackles that we may hope to move towards a splendid destiny for the mankind. [TNM55]

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sri Aurobindo is more than a footnote

It is not an isolated instance that Sri Aurobindo is not taken seriously as a philosopher. His poetry, despite colossal output, is dismissed as mere versification. His pioneering role in the freedom struggle is but a footnote in the history books and he merely receives a passing mention as a political thinker. Even as a religious figure also he seems to be suspect and the Ashram and Auroville bear a pseudo tag.

The Bengalis disown him as he has not written much in their tongue. Besides, he is widely perceived as an escapist. Various neo-Hindu organisations in the country treat him as a competitor and ignore him. For the Hindu majoritarian movements, he is not considered as much helpful, and hence is marginalised. Thus, it is a travesty of our times how a great son stands devalued in his own land. [TNM55]

The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have unveiled the Savitri Era

Ken Wilber, with exemplary calibre, has put the contribution of Sri Aurobindo at par with other thinkers like Schelling, Hegel, Nietzsche, Bergson, Whitehead, & Teilhard de Chardin. Thus, it was expected that the academic world will engage with his major works and substantial discourse would follow. But, nothing of the sort happened. It's now clear that there is much resistance to come out of the safe Western/Christian zone. Intellectual lethargy coupled with cultural antipathy plays a big role in keeping Sri Aurobindo exiled from the University precincts. So much for academic freedom and spirit of exploration.

The ontology that The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have unveiled has its root in diverse sources. They have emphasised the fact that instead of repeating the past, they forged a new synthesis that was needed. Their teaching, therefore, has to be accepted in toto, and not through its ingredients, individually. This break with the past is painful for many but a necessity. The culture industry is eager to appropriate and encash them but is finding it difficult to lay a foothold.

Be that as it may, one thing is incontrovertibly sure. Sri Aurobindo has given us the most comprehensive explanation of the universe in a most sophisticated language. It's only by studying his writings that we contribute to the evolutionary force that is at work. If the learned Westerners don't need him, so be it. But, a day will come when Knowledge will rule and the present fog of obfuscation will vanish. [TNM55]

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Divinity is in the mind of the devotee

Writings apart, even the life (or, lives) of Sri Aurobindo is liable to misinterpretations. His insistence on the primacy of inner life is, of course, a different matter. But the story of his outward life, itself, can't be said to represent him wholly. Paradoxical as it may sound, perception of the Divine personification is a projection of the devotee's mind regardless of the inner/outer life of Sri Aurobindo himself. (Heehs has aptly recorded his frustration over not finding any trace of Divinity in his subject during the long quest).

Thus, the portrayal of the Master is incomplete without the devotee's appraisal. Lack of uniformity among the devotees is also another aspect, and hence, there is scope for multiple levels of loyalty. For one section, the minute details of the Master's life becomes irrelevant barring on considerations of lila. For others on the contrary, each turn in the story can be full of significance or in resonance with past occurrences or future prophecies. Needless to say that this is the point where a religion is born and it is impossible to throttle it by writing banal biographies.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, therefore, can't be restricted to the writings by and on them. Name & form, lila & dham, and much more memories and imaginings are abroad in the intransitive arena. So, no one person is capable of giving full expression to it or to deform it. [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo is not an easy subject

Quoting two sentences from a book by Sri Aurobindo can be utterly misleading. Many employ this practice to buttress their own point of view and add weight to the write-up. But, it is crucial to remember that Sri Aurobindo is not an easy subject. By citing him in a faulty context, one is at the risk of exposing his own ignorance. Most people, perhaps, understand this, and hence, avoid discussing his views in public forums. But, the compulsion of scholars is also understandable, for, how else can they spruce up their papers and articles?

Debate is on on the authenticity of Savitri and other unrevised writings, but deriving a settled view over the contents of well established publications also is not so sound. The reason is, each paragraph needs to be understood as refracted through his utterances in subsequent letters, conversations, The Mother's explanations, and in some cases, the exposions of direct disciples. Not only, this requires long years of devoted perusal of such varied literature, but also, is subject to subjective twists and turns over space and time.

A broad consensus, nevertheless, is possible once the question of a separate religion is tentatively agreed upon. Another difficulty is we have nothing to fall "back" upon, as our whole endeavour is an enterprise into the future. No past writing or rules of tradition is of any help to us; they are rather barriers. Thus, it is a huge responsibility today to carry the flag of our Masters. Voluntary clinging to superiority from the mere cognitive to the normative modes is not given to all, and hence, the moment is meant for immersing in humility and gratitude while simultaneously celebrating the Grace. [TNM55]

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lokpal is injurious to the health of the nation

Lokpal is injurious to the health of the nation. Devising a system that overcomes human failure is, of course, a tempting argument. But the system has its limits, and ultimately, it is man who makes or breaks it. Our existing governance framework is fair enough but needs good men. Elections are the best way to ensure this and it is futile to expect perfection in collective life, overnight.

The Gita is in news now, but as a character building treatise, it has not been effective till date. In fact, its content is borrowed from various sources, and as such, it lacks a central message. It is popular because of its ambivalence and impracticality. Besides, it needs to be dumped as it perpetuates a worn out mythology even in secular environs.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have crafted the most modern religious and ethical scaffolding which alone guarantees a safe road ahead for the humanity. By aligning our politics as well as education to it that India can show the way to the world. [TNM55]

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Onus on the Ontology front

[The .pdf version of The Democracy of Objects can be found here.]

I don't understand it fully either, but it's a groundbreaking book at the moment. Nothing wrong in returning to it from time to time as part of our mental gymnastics. At least, the book refers to Samuel Alexander, Bergson, and Whitehead et al with whom we are a bit familiar on the score of Evolution. We have a considerable stake on the Ontology front, and keeping track of the moves of adversaries is a necessary evil and an unenviable task. [TNM55]

Gender and juvenility


A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs ...

But I did not tell you that he is also characterless; I had it in my mind even at that moment, but felt it would be irrelevant. Today I am telling you that his character’s logical disease is so acute that even while writing about the Supreme Master he is possessed by his lust. Sudha Sinha 28.06.2010]

Gender relations is a tricky affair and more so within an ashram environment. How a community deals with expression of human emotions can never be a settled fact as Khaps and traps occur even today. But, in this case the perception of the accused smacks of juvenility conforming to the ordinary female worldview without a sympathetic appreciation of the male psychology and its implications with regard to human rights.

Aspiring for a higher consciousness is surely our duty, but to measure the present human behaviour with the supposed standards of the future would be anomalous. And, therefore, it is important to engage with the multiple dimensions of social sciences. [TNM55]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hypocrisy and ignorance

[Quotation of the Day… - Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux on Dec 17, 2011 5:26 PM
… is from page 209 of David Friedman’s excellent 1996 book Hidden Order; here, Friedman uses the term “economic imperialism” in its older form, namely, as a term to condemn private investment in ‘developing’ countries by firms and investors from ‘developed’ countries:

People who attack economic imperialism regard themselves as champions of the poor and oppressed. To the extent that they succeed in preventing foreign investment in poor countries, they are benefitting the capitalists of those countries by holding up their profits and injuring the workers by holding down their wages.

(BTW, if you’re in search of a really good book to introduce someone college-age or higher to the economic way of thinking – an introduction simultaneously packed with insights yet accessible and entertaining – you can’t do better than to give him or her a copy of Hidden Order.)]

This piece of advice is no longer hidden but an open secret, but in India, hypocrisy rules and ignorance reigns. [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo instead of Spinoza or Aristotle

[Sri Aurobindo has defined the 4 main lines of development as occultism, religion, philosophy and spiritual realisation. Each one of these has its rationale in the spiritual evolution as it speaks to a need of our nature and the development it is undergoing. Correlation of Four Main Lines of Development to Our Spiritual Needs - Sri Aurobindo Studies on Dec 17, 2011 1:13 AM]

[Again the chapter on ancient China is a great example here. It is clear that one of Bellah’s goals is to use the case of ancient China to test his general theory of religion and cultural evolution. However, the China chapter is much more than that. Any reader will be impressed by Bellah’s genuine curiosity and fascination about the historical, social, and cultural details of ancient China, many of which are not necessarily relevant for the purpose of confirming Bellah’s general theories and theses. It seems that Bellah wants to tell the story of early China and its religions for its own sake, trying to do justice to its particularities and diversities. The same can be said about the chapters on the other axial civilizations. The generosity and breadth of Bellah’s empathy and curiosity in humanity is on full display on every page. One will never see human history and our contemporary world the same after reading Bellah’s magnificent book. The return of the grand narrative - The Immanent Frame by Yang Xiao on Dec 15, 2011 9:34 PM]

[Larval Subjects links to Levi R. Bryant's recent book The Democracy of Objects. I applaud Levi for providing us with the full text of his book. I've been reading Reiner Schürmann's lectures onBeing and Time, and quite like his approach of interpreting B&T in light of the later works. Unfortunately, the book's content is not available on Amazon or Google Books, and I haven't had the time to OCR the bits I want to share. I can't imagine anyone benefits from keeping the book closed off. (title unknown) - enowning on Dec 16, 2011 10:24 PM]
Westerners are a bit confused now as to how to deal with the extensive intellectual resources scattered over rest of the world. Clinging to Aristotle or Spinoza has been an one-eyed adventure, and now that economic compulsions force them to venture out, Asian knowledge systems pose a huge challenge. Sri Aurobindo's writings, in this context, constitute a great help.
Sri Aurobindo offers a safe filter for the massive extant literature in ancient languages. He also brings out their neglected inner meanings thus making them relevant to the needs of modern times. Finally, the integrality of his vision is so empowering that one is never intimidated by the unending western discourse. [TNM55]

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sri Aurobindo is no revivalist

[On the high-role of the epics in forming and sustaining the collective life, Sri Aurobindo too, in line with his above cited contemporaries, saw them as vehicles of popular culture and as instruments that made available to the masses in a simple language and colourful manner the deep and arcane knowledge contained in the Vedas, Upanishads and other such texts: ... The Epics and our National Life: ignored perspectives, six examples and some views - Anirban Ganguly, Research Associate, VIF]

It is interesting to read this paper, especially against the backdrop of the Ramanujam controversy, but the author, though well versed in Sri Aurobindo's writings, fails to portray accurately the later's viewpoint with regard to the Indian epics. Classifying Sri Aurobindo as a revivalist or a perennialist is a mistake and his overall vision for the country and its place in the world needs to be taken into consideration whilst aligning him with other thinkers and ideological streams. [TNM55]

Bellah and Bryant

[Bellah’s book seems to be a sign that postmodernism is on its way out, and grand narrative has returned. Postmodernism can mean too many things these days, but its initial and defining meaning, as Jean-François Lyotard has claimed, is really its complete rejection and distrust of any grand narrative or universal history. However, as Bellah would certainly remind us, since nothing is ever lost, postmodernism cannot be completely forgotten. What we find in Bellah’s book is critical universal history because it has absorbed the postmodernist critique of the traditional, dogmatic, and provincial “universal history.” ...
Bellah believes that there are necessary links “between past and present,” and that “nothing is ever lost.” The return of the grand narrative - The Immanent Frame by Yang Xiao on Dec 15, 2011 9:34 PM]

[The Democracy of Objects for Kindle - Larval Subjects on Dec 15, 2011 8:09 PM
The .pdf version of The Democracy of Objects can be found here.]

Revolt of OOO against correlationism looks like postmodernism's criticism of grand narrative. Revolts and returns, thankfully, stay in the libraries and rarely touch the common human life. [TNM55]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In praise of incentives

"Slaps, not more than that," was JP's advice to the agitating students for dealing with the MLAs in Bihar in September 1974. Hence, Hazare's "Just one slap?" remark is a stark reminder of history repeating as both tragedy and farce. That Anna is forcing the country towards anarchy is becoming too evident now.

The very concept of a Lokpal is disruptive of the present constitutional balance of power and its votaries have no idea as to how supremely corrupt and authoritarian it can become. Purging politics of incentive is a utopian notion and it is only by legalising certain payouts and additional entitlements that quantum of corruption can be curtailed. [TNM55]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

India must follow Sri Aurobindo and not Anna Hazare

The mock Parliament held at Jantar Mantar the other day by the Hazare brigade is a sad event. The fate of 121 crore of people can't be left to the whims a handful of half-literate activists. Sri Aurobindo has told us of his vision and dreams for this country as well as the world. India must follow him and not Anna Hazare. Knowledge must rule and not ignorance. The youth of this country must be persuaded not to go for easy solutions and seek enduring results, instead. Populist and publicist methods might be successful for some time, but there is no substitute for sound theories. Savitri Era Party is assured of the fact that in the hands of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo only lies a safe future of the Indian people. [TNM55]

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Be wary of quotation-wallahs

The childlike hyper-inquisitiveness of Amal to ascertain the source and level of inspiration for particular poetical passages in order to label and grade them accordingly, despite The Mother's admonitions, constitutes a much valued documentation of calibration within the confines of Integral Yoga. For, while elaborate delineation of successive occult realms is available in theory, there is, practically, no means to evaluate practitioners as to their quantum of accomplishment or lack thereof.

In the absence of any such yardstick, obviously, charlatanism flourishes and people occupying positions of power acquire the halo of supposed spiritual realisations. Writers and orators easily appropriate such roles without clarifying on their own rung in the ladder of consciousness. Instead of believing in deliberately floated rumours, therefore, the key question is how to judge a person who is so adept at dishing out lessons on spiritual living.

There is no satisfying answer to this, apparently, and hence better to be wary of people who thrive on quotations but question others on the ground of being merely mental or intellectual. [TNM55]

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Harvard and Heehs

[Harvard University has decided to remove the summer courses on economics taught by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy after a furious debate over a controversial editorial written by him that was offensive to Muslims.]

But Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry lacks spine to discipline Peter Heehs who continues to justify his hostile writings through proxy voices. [TNM55]

Thursday, December 01, 2011

India is no island

The Left are known votaries of socialistic principles in economy, while the BJP pursues the same in the sphere of religion. Thus, the political ideal of Liberty stands compromised in different ways. Rest of the parties, too, are no worshipers of Freedom, but manage their policy on pragmatic basis. The fact that competition spurs innovation has, of course, received acceptance, but the conviction level is very low.

The present storm over foreign investment in retail trade is a ridiculous debate. A country of our size and potential developing cold feet at meeting the outsiders is a cowardly act. If India is to lead the world, obviously, it can't stay an island. [TNM55]

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Role of Jayantilal

Comment by Tusar N. Mohapatra
Re: An essay at clarification regarding Archival publications: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee (C)

The role of Jayantilal has not been discussed in relation to the judgemental remarks appearing in the journal. The reaction of the then trustees also needs to be elaborated for grasping the overall situation in the Ashram. [TNM55]

Monday, November 28, 2011

English prose and regional poetry

Without English, India will come to a grinding halt, although 90% of its population don't use it. The precarious companionship of English with the regional languages is a surprising project accomplished over several Centuries. Political parties in India, however, cleverly take cover behind this advantage to camouflage their ambivalence on various issues. What is articulated in English rarely matches the rustic rhetoric of local tongues in style or content. The duplicity in politics is thus amplified by this linguistic plurality.

Failure of English to infiltrate popular culture in India is, of course, a big defeat, but its hold on dissemination of thought through the print medium is intact. This means, we are forever torn between English prose and regional poetry. Not a very happy prospect, but that is our curious destiny. [TNM55]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Notes together

We have just compiled the editorial notes of all CWSA volumes by a strenuous process of first taking a snapshot of each page and then converting it into pdf aggregating 388 pages. It contains a mine of information and it would be a great help if the Ashram can make this compilation available online, separately. [TNM55]

Surrender or serendipity?

Comment by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Sat 26 Nov 2011 11:19 AM IST Re: An essay at clarification regarding Archival publications: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee (A)

Thanks Vikas for saying "point is certainly well made" which made my day. Without holding any brief for the journal article, I get the sense that it also meant something akin, but Jugal didn't weigh both sides as you have done so admirably here.

It was after The Mother's arrival that the Four Powers appeared in the Synthesis (which remain neglected to this day). Surrender to The Mother, thus, takes precedence over all other formulations and technicalities (including the Records). It is so simple and uncluttered that it can well be equated with serendipity. Sandeep, of course, comes from a different tradition. [TNM55]

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Prevent doctrinal pollution

What happened in 1926 on this day was practically a reaffirmation of what The Mother wrote twelve years earlier on March 30, 1914 upon meeting Sri Aurobindo a day before. One may further go back in time to May 30, 1909 when Sri Aurobindo had chosen to reveal his divinity in course of a public speech at Uttarpara. As more and more people turn towards The Mother & Sri Aurobindo for light, the significance of this mythology will come under searchlight, especially against the enigmatic backdrop of Colonialism, World War, and scientific advance.

In view of the economic and political churning engulfing the world today, the future of humanity turns out to be a grim question mark. The message of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is a formidable fount of hope on this score which presents a robust agenda for collective action as well. Through the Ashram and Auroville, the seeds were sown for transformation of the whole world which is in process in consonance with the evolutionary forces. The primary task, therefore, is to guard against adulteration and prevent doctrinal pollution. [TNM55]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jugal's list

Comment posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra
Re: An essay at clarification regarding Archival publications: Jugal Kishore Mukherjee (A)

Jugal's list of references to self-surrender or surrender to the divine seems to be slightly off the mark as surrender to The Mother is something else. I hinted about this thematic variation and not any textual revision, and obviously, no pre-1920 version of The Mother exists. [TNM55]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preferential Politics

[The true ‘enemy’ of the thesis is seen to be in the synthesis because it includes the thesis and ends the latter’s reason for being. (Intimate Enemy) ]

[The hermeneutic circle describes how we interpret a text through the circular feedback of parts and wholes. We start with the first word (a part) and a sense of what this text we are about to read is about (and so the whole of the text), and then we interpret each succeeding part using our conception of the whole. In turn we alter our understanding of the whole by the understanding we make of each new part.
So this is a continual, circular process by which interpretation occurs. At the end of the text our conception of the whole, the meaning of the text, has changed, and it has changed through the reading of the parts which got their interpretation through the then current understanding of the whole, which they, the parts, in turn, continually altered as we read.
Hermeneutic and Preferential Circles - philosophy autobiography by Jeff Meyerhoff on Nov 20, 2011 10:57 PM]

Between Katju and Hazare, we encounter a huge intellectual chasm comparable to Ravi Verma's opulence vs. Husain's minimalist representation of goddesses. Imagination or interpretation, though preferential and constrained by individual's horizon, can generate unpredictable response in the receiver that verges upon co-creation. The fleeting footwork of a dancer can be a life long cherished memory as much as a line of a poem one can't forget even after trying. While the abstraction involved is voluntary bypassing the rough edges is not always rational.

This disjoint torpedoes the truth-clams and even philosophy falls prey to rhetoric. The snares of hermeneutics, therefore, are too difficult to cut through. Most will agree that politics is bad, but that should not prompt us to hate Politics (with capital p). [TNM55]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sri Aurobindo alone is equal

[Great writers like Voltaire, Rousseau, Thomas Paine, ‘Junius’ (whose real name we yet do not know) played an outstanding role in this connection (see Will Durant’s ‘The Age of Voltaire’ and ‘Rousseau and Revolution’). The Encyclopaedists like Voltaire, Diderot, Helvetius, Holbach etc. created the Age of Reason, which paved the way for a modern Europe. Diderot wrote that “Men will be free when the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”. Voltaire, in his satirical novels ‘Candide’ and ‘Zadig’ lashed out at religious bigotry, superstitions, and irrationalism. Rousseau in his ‘Social Contract’ attacked feudal despotism by propounding the theory of the ‘general will’ (which broadly stands for popular sovereignty). Thomas Paine wrote about the Right of Man, and Junius attacked the corruption of the Ministers of the despotic George III. Dickens criticized the terrible social conditions in 19th Century England. These, and many others, were responsible for creating modern Europe. Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman, Press Council Of India, “The Hindu” dated 16/11/2011)]

Justice Katju lists his favourite writers but it would be fair to expect the present generation to be aware of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Peter Drucker et al as modernising influences. Movies too are an important source of motivation, and exposure to Internet, an ocean of inspiration. It is absurd, therefore, to go two Centuries back and invoke archaic tracts.

To overlook what Sri Aurobindo has dwelt upon as Renaissance in India, however, seems unnatural. Further, comparing Indian people with the Europeans is fraught with multiple layers of anomaly. Anderson has noted that all of Integral theory are but footnotes to Sri Aurobindo. And in the same vein, one may venture to interject that Justice Katju need not have taken the trouble of remembering so many names, and could have mentioned Sri Aurobindo alone, instead. [TNM55]

Bellah ignores Sri Aurobindo

On stumbling upon the observer-observed syndrome, Science went awry; but is yet to probe the third integrating factor so matter-of-factly stated in the third verse of Kena Upanishad. By recording his experiments with Yoga over a prolonged period, Sri Aurobindo has demonstrated how he proceeded with scientific rigour, and yet his discoveries matched with the seers of the Vedic lore. Unfortunately, Semitic theology and sectarian science have consistently neglected the Eastern knowledge systems, injuring thereby the cause of an integral and harmonising worldview. The juvenility of their Social sciences, likewise, has the propensity of being high on style and low on substance.

Bellah's book on evolution ignores the outstanding contribution of Sri Aurobindo. Such ignorance/indifference is in operation for almost a millennium now, and the resultant fractured learning is nothing short of Frankenstein's monster. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have pressed into service a potent Judeo-Vedic paradigm, in receptivity of which lies the salvation of humanity. [TNM55]

Onus is on Sri Aurobindians

[Tracking Modernity: India's Railway and the Culture of Mobility - Page 62
Marian Aguiar - 2011 - 272 pages - Another key Indian figure associated with a spiritual-based nationalism, Aurobindo Ghose, spoke of the machine in ... Aurobindo was in many ways Vivekananda's heir, and he refined the notion of autonomy by elaborating the concept of ...]

[The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy - Page 819
George Klosko - 2011 - 840 pages - The new interpretation of social action found in the theory of karma yoga and the application of traditional language and symbols to the modern Indian scene were Vivekananda's and Aurobindo's contributions to a distinctly Hindu ...]

The providential potential of evolution vs. its emancipatory possibilities is a fiercely contested debate of our time. The former's argument is teleology driven while the latter is firmly rooted in the contingency of human agency. Perhaps, the two meet in the assertion that the individual is the key, but then, the scenario turns a bit nebulous like in All life is yoga. If all activities and initiatives are to be seen as ordained, then the ethical standards would have no meaning. This objection, however, can be countered by the proposition that we are wired genetically with adequate checks and balances.

The provincialism of the West has been the most frustrating phenomenon. Now that it is being forced to look eastward, the onus is on Sri Aurobindians to focus on a possible synthesis suitable for the current Century. We need to be clear as to why and how both Occupy as well as Hazare are hazardous for the future. Let the debate be deepened so that we present a unified face before the fragmented world. [TNM55]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Varna thumbs-up

The libertarian passion for property rights is well known. So, the inheritance of social capital on caste lines can't be disputed. Seen in the light of the assertion that heredity is merely a mechanism, preservation and nurturing of skills within the safety of the family is surely a means that serves a larger social purpose. Thus, treating the Varna taxonomy as decoupled from progeny might not be wholly convincing.

As Mayawati woos the Brahmins in UP, the hold of the age-old social stratifications comes under focus. Justice Katju might choose to slam it as castiesm, but the logic of division of labour, calibration, and branding has been driving this whole system uninterrupted. [TNM55]

Boatman and black swan

Madhu Bhaina has recounted one of his pet stories that we often heard at Sundargarh in the current issue of Navaprakash. The ordeal of a highly educated man incapable of swimming rescued by the unschooled boatman is the theme of the parable that privileges the practical knowledge over the pedantic. So far so good, but methodologically, drawing inferences from inadequate instances of observations might prove to be dubious.

Kush once wrote in the Sabda Newsletter quite daringly that the age of Thakur Ramakrishna and his stories are over and the challenge for the mind is to delve into the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. Learning the ropes in philosophy, admittedly, is a great help in wading one's way through minefields of fallacies. [TNM55]

Iffy moves

[“A marriage gives birth to certain rights and liabilities, which are seldom described in the contract of marriage i.e. nikahnama. Right to be maintained and right to inheritance, sharing of joy and sorrow, affection towards each other as alter ego, feeling of joint ownership and of oneness — all these are salient features of marriage, which distinguishes it from a civil contract,” ADJ Shastri said. Muslim marriage not a civil contract: Court
Utkarsh Anand, Indian Express, Wed Nov 16 2011, 00:01 hrs New Delhi]

[Comment on Twin souls by ipi - Comments for Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother
by ipi on Nov 17, 2011 8:26 AM
Good that mike is not married to the twin soul other wise in few years will think as twin evil, sorry its true as marriage can do this magic.]

Unlike the Catholic Church, we don't consider marriage or family as an aid in Yoga. The example in the life of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo in particular and the pivotal role of the Ashram in general are dampeners in this regard. Besides, the usual frictions occurring within relationships, - lively peeps into which are provided by ipi from time to time, - are readily attributed to the undesirability of worldly life. As sociological studies pertaining to practice of Integral Yoga are almost nonexistent, a general attitude of being apologetic about marriage prevails and the need to search for the golden mean never acquires urgency.

Teenagers joining Ashrams and opting for celibacy may have been sanctioned by the tradition, but is hardly a sound means of modern collective life. Playing the second innings post-Fifty has its own bouquet of difficulties which can never be anticipated while in the Twenties. There can't, however, be a one-size-fits-all rule for everyone, and even each neuron has its own genome, but it's worthwhile to probe issues like gender equations, old age, and kinship against the pulls and pressures of spiritual aspiration. [TNM55]

Judeo-Vedic adventure

[Bellah, like Bruno Latour, shows how we have never been modern; that is, the West has never gone without myth and religion. As Hegel put it, “those moments which the spirit appears to have outgrown still belong to it in the depths of its present.” Thinking with Latour and Bellah: Religion beyond Nature and Culture - Footnotes to Plato by Matthew David Segall on Nov 16, 2011 3:09 PM]

[Seems to me the same could apply the Heidegger, also working in the 1920s, like Eliot, Pound, and Joyce. He casts his contributions in terms of the tradition, and after him the tradition is understood differently. Despite his de-structuring being construed as an origin for multifaceted post-modernism, Heidegger himself worked as a modernist, in this literary sense. by enowning on Nov 16, 2011 3:45 AM]

[Bellah’s account of the axial age is weighted to the Indian and the Chinese breakthroughs, but for the purposes of grasping the continuing role of narrativity it may be easier to think in terms of all the consequences that have stemmed from the particular breakthrough that occurred in Israel. ...
I have telescoped, glossed and simplified Bellah in order to bring out a central message that seems to me as true as it is controversial. ‘We’ are inveterate story tellers as well as theoreticians. ‘Nothing is ever lost’. Moreover, the platforms in consciousness from which we formulate our visions of how we might be, and how the world might be, were set up in the axial age. As ever in Bellah, his rigorous commitment to objectivity emits a normative aura: it is not a matter of putting stories behind us as childish but of telling the best stories to frame our collective existence. What should we now do differently? - The Immanent Frame by David Martin on Nov 17, 2011 6:21 AM]

The Mother's story encapsulates it all. The Judeo-Vedic agenda that she so heroically has unveiled is the hope of the future and hugely worthy of adventure. "Sing O lands, sing O peoples, sing O men, The Divine Harmony is there." [TNM55]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vedic battle against Hitler

Sri Aurobindo's role for liberation of India from the British rule is more or less known to everyone. But his fight against Hitler is yet to percolate into the popular lore. This episode assumes much significance once the Vedic implications is understood. Sri Aurobindo has not only unravelled the secret of the Veda, but also fought the Vedic battle against the epitome of evil in his own life.

Considered in this light, the teaching of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo reveals its intrinsic political nature. Yoga, itself, is a perpetual effort to break new ground and win fresh territory. But the paramountcy of the political unfolds when confronted with hostile forces, within and without.

Kaushalam, perhaps, becomes more relevant here than in the context of sundry mundane tasks. Best brains need to be harnessed for war and also the best of resources. The Mother was fighting a grim battle all through. Amal, her worthy child, called it a day recently. Wanted, bulk replenishments. [TNM55]

Good bye UP

The proposal to divide UP into four states is most welcome and its implementation must be put on the fast track. Additionally, if East Delhi is integrated with the new West UP state, then the development process could be galvanised for the whole region. Metro has taken away the border pains for many but a seamless movement of traffic within the whole NCR is a far cry. Being the most cosmopolitan habitat in the country, the fast growth in population should have matching infrastructural back up. Perhaps, the best paradigm of cultural synthesis and synergy will emerge here. [TNM55]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Katju's taraju

Tusar Nath Mohapatra on 15 November 2011 at 6:44 pm said:

The fact that the thought of Sri Aurobindo is yet to appear in the dominant consciousness of the nation proves Justice Katju right beyond any doubt. And sadly, both the elite and the laity are one under this criterion. [TNM55]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Integrating Life with Divine

A lot of scholarship has gone into studying religion in the recent years and we hear endless patronising noise from the secularists for the believers. But the irony is all such concerns surrounds the subject qua agent and not the object of his faith. God as a category in anthropological inquiry remains reified as ever. The Semitic imagery of creation continues to be ossified in the memory of the atheists and the academics alike.

This bottom-up approach of investigating the society has been the Achilles heel of every stream of Humanities. Themes on the Divine have fed aesthetics as well as rhetorics, but invoking a living presence has rarely been attempted. Marginalization of God in the secular age is well reflected by the shrinking Religious studies departments in the universities.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have effectively put a spanner in this mindless trend. They have valiantly put the agenda of the Life Divine in the forefront to demonstrate the integral reality of the different seeming twosome. Life, when studied divorced from the Divine, turns anomalous and sokalesque. Thus, The Life Divine alone can become the edifice for all future explorations into the human condition and destiny. [TNM55]

Silence is the bar

Agreed that RYD's deafening silence regarding the Centenary edition of Savitri is perplexing. He, like Hazare, has perhaps become a prisoner of his ambitious team members. His persistent complaint against "dignified silence" seems hollow if he follows the same tactic. He can't ignore valid criticism and must reply point-wise. [TNM55]

Time for Das Gupta to pack up

[CPI(M) puts limit of 9 years on party secretaries' term - India - DNA - Monday, Nov 14, 2011, 8:30 IST
In a historic move, the CPI(M) central committee has decided that party secretaries across all levels must limit their terms to a maximum of nine years, with the caveat that only under exceptional circumstances, extensions will be allowed.]

[November 13, 2011 6:23 pm
Ambani calls for generational change in India - By James Lamont and James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai
Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, has called for a generational change in the country’s gerontocratic leadership, and urged the government to move faster to implement reforms that would help meet its young population’s economic ambitions.
“We’ve had a mystery [in India] where we think that [important] jobs can only be done by 60-year-old plus [people]... I think we’re now fast moving to say that our 40-year-olds can take more responsibility and can perform better,” Mr Ambani, 54, told business leaders and policymakers at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in Mumbai.]

Time for Das Gupta to pack up. [TNM55]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

India adrift

The language question in India continues to be intractable. Hindi and its various dialects along with other regional languages complain of the hegemony of English, while Sanskrit, the source, languishes. As a result, a national culture or literature has failed to take shape. Pursuit of excellene has suffered due to limited appreciation and quality has become a casualty due to fragmented patronisation. Large scale migration of people is propelling proliferation of hybridity and rootlessness. TV, being a hostage of TRP, has proved ineffective in inculcating a pan-Indian ethos.

Although, the debate on High and Low Culture is yet to be settled, aesthetic paradigms are constantly being redefined. Palmtop devices are facilitating consumption of culture in new modes and media by the new generation. Seamless 24x7 services are transcending national and cultural barriers. Traditional categories like theatre, dance, and poetry, regrettably, are receiving short shrift. As it is difficult to answer the question, "Who decides?," the drift needs to be seen as ordained. [TNM55]

Healing Enlightenment

Heehs imbroglio brought into focus two oft-repeated fallacies, viz., Circular reasoning and Appeal to authority. The book, basically, was a meticulous attempt to steer clear of such glitches by debunking hagiography. Locating The Mother & Sri Aurobindo strictly as historical figures was a commendable academic venture. But, a fixation with sex and madness derailed the whole enterprise thus turning a prized project into a tragedy.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, however, are not only individuals, but also are universal as well as transcendent. Apropos such affirmations, the fallacies themselves turn illogical, as the logic of the infinite operates. All canons of cognition and empiricism bite dust in such instances. Enlightenment is clueless as to how to account for such a phenomenon. Immanence apparently is incapable of conceiving divinity and parent sacredness. This needs to be healed and the chasm bridged. [TNM55]

Hazardous potential of Hazare hurricane

[The huge success of Godrej's PUF (Polyurethane Foam) insulated refrigerators are an example to site as a successful ingredient branding strategy.
THE POWER OF BRANDS - Dr. Hemant C Trivedi, Vivek Khandelwal, Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad.]

Hazare hurricane is still hovering above the political landscape in a directionless fashion. But the puffed up appeal of the campaign has acquired a hazardous potential of pumping mass hysteria at any point of time. Saintly figures do impress the public in India despite their modest education but earning political fortune is a different avenue. Team Anna, it seems, is struggling to cope with its own internal politics and is sure to face dissensions at the time of future expansion and policy formulation.

Congress, BJP, and CPM too are facing internal turmoil over the leadership issue. A democratic culture of electing the captain has not taken root in our country so far. The feudal past forces people to look at dynasties, celebrities, and saints. The task, therefore, is to root for ideology and genuine grassroots empowerment and discourage emotional manipulation of the masses. [TNM55]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Emotion, memory, and myth

Emotion, memory, and myth are three problem areas in the realm of a modern mode of spirituality. While The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have gifted us a thoroughgoing ontological framework, the practice aspect is weighed down by too much dependence on certain emotions. The memory, similarly, is limited and progressively erasable, and therefore, the rational bedrock is liable to give way in course of time.

Myth, though integral to our existence, is subject to subjective appeal. Substituting a preferred version conforming to one's standards of enlightenment is a task that involves much attitudinal gymnastics. Despite the difficulties, however, Integral Yoga caters to all our faculties, and hence reigns supreme. [TNM55]

The posterity now

[By this time I have able to rattle everybody concerned out of complacency ... that is my sufficient consolation. ... Let the posterity judge the germaneness of my intervention albeit unsolicited.]

"JKM’s 50 page ordeal" can never be seen as signifying a contented heart. Rather, it clearly vents the sighs of a helpless soldier forced into subordination. He, however, pins his hopes on the posterity, and thus, it's not fair to hush up the ongoing discussions concerning the corrections in Savitri. "Consensus of a larger group of peers," likewise, cannot be a guarantee of flawless authenticity.

Unlike the Lives imbroglio, no one alleges bad faith in this controversy. The compulsion to defend the extant cold print is understandable, but discretion is the better part of valour in this highly complex matter. Fifty years down the line, the "approvals" would seem more suspect, and hence, it is high time to initiate a fresh attempt to have a re-look at the corrections in a technology-enabled transparent manner. [TNM55]