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]

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]

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

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Immoderate moderator

Just read an absolutely hate mail posted by a supposedly moderate moderator in the guise of a joke seeking death of political opponents. This is indicative of a sick mentality akin to the terrorists. Scientists too floated their theories via fiction in olden days. [TNM55]

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In search of rigour

[The most rigorous expression of pluralism as a theoretical project I know of is expressed by Richard McKeon. - For The Turnstiles by DGA on Oct 31, 2011 10:42 PM]

[Keynesianism has conquered the hearts and minds of politicians and ordinary people alike because it provides a theoretical justification for irresponsible behaviour. Don't Look to Political Parties for a Solution? - Coordination Problem by Peter Boettke on Oct 31, 2011 9:51 PM]

[ Will a prioritization of political ideals seem fair to members of a secular society, and, perhaps more importantly, does it capture the challenges that face the kind of democracies we currently characterize as governed by secularism? My suspicion is that the answer is no ... Taking a stance - The Immanent Frame by Lars Tønder on Oct 31, 2011 10:17 PM]

[Press Council chief says he has a dim view of most journalists, TOI, 31 Oct 2011 - Press Council chief Markandey Katju has written to PM suggesting that the electronic media should be brought under its purview and should be given more teeth.]

[The lack of logical rigour is a running feature of the UPA's effort to attack the Jan Lokpal movement... There is adifference between the interesting and the important, the distracting and the dangerous and a key role of the media is to accord differential priorities to events rather than paint them all with a uniform brush. ...
Increasingly, ideology tends to overwhelm principle; the desire to support any action, however unsavoury, if it happens to be aligned with one's own views, is visible on both sides. Santosh Desai, Democracy without dissent? Times of India, October 31, 2011]

It is amusing to hear Santosh Desai - who hails from the advertising profession - recommending calibration to news media. Advertising, a key engine of Modern (also called Capitalist) society, is primarily responsible for inflated representation through mind-space manipulation. Paper-money system too follows the same route for creating a false sense of prosperity. All religions run on the basic premise of the devotee securing a promise from the God. Leftist thinkers keep on churning words with the certitude that they can successfully define the world without the hypothesis of God.

Thus, it is an irony to talk about rigour against the backdrop of irrational voters and irrational markets. The friction between ethics and aesthetics is perhaps key to the survival of the human race and hence finding the right balance or integration must receive priority by the society. [TNM55]

Monday, October 31, 2011

Restraint and hierarchy

If the Principal of a school run in the name of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo in Kolkata draws a salary of Rs. Three Lakh per month, can it be treated as corruption? Since we support Free Market enterprise, the answer, obviously, is No. Since we defend Property rights and inheritance, we are also not bothered about the intention of the deceased founders. Competition, ultimately, is the cure; and hierarchy can't be dispensed with. Restraint or generosity, if any, should happen voluntarily.

When a community become large, all kinds of people will be there covering diverse professions. It is, therefore, very difficult to enforce a uniform code of ethics or regimented pattern of incentive. But, bypassing of legal compulsions in functioning should be resisted and appropriate supervision modalities instituted. When even the Hazare team is under the searchlight, all of us must strive to keep the sacred names of the Masters above board. [TNM55]

Knowledge as whip

This year has been quite eventful so far and the fermentation observed in the political sphere can lead to radical changes in the next couple of years. Let's hope that it is not the usual wrestling between the UPA and the NDA, and the country gets the glimpse of an altogether new direction.

The ongoing Yatra by Advani is a drab affair as it is bereft of any uplifting inspiration or wisdom. Besides, the pre-Modern outlook of his party is a drag, not to speak of the charge of terrorism that is under probe. His embarrassment at Bengaluru on account of corruption is symptomatic of the rotten state of politics in most of the States in India.

When thinking of morality and modernity, we find elaborate guidance in the norms prescribed by The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. They recommend a flexible and pragmatic paradigm for life with ethical responses run spontaneously and not mechanically. Knowledge is the whip here and not any personal oath or subjective impression. And then we can hope to end corruption and embark upon more crucial journeys involving evolution. [TNM55]

We are seven billion

Seven billion human beings upon our planet is a landmark event. Let's assume that this is part of the overall path of evolution for fulfilment of the Divine will. About one sixth of the race have their home in India where Sri Aurobindo was born on August 15, 1872. He has repeated it several times over that India has the Knowledge and the rest of the world must benefit from it.

Many are used to the glib talk that the academia accredited critical theory is the most integral insight available. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, however, claim otherwise, and hence, we may say for certain that future solutions will ensue from their legacy. Even an iota of receptivity in this regard will be a huge collaboration and a giant leap forward. [TNM55]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hazare falters

Hazare is clueless about constituting his own team, but insisting to disturb the balance of power between the key Government figures through the JLB. Instead of demanding referendum and forcing the ruling party to pass the bill, the right course is to contest in the elections and come to power. Unwillingness to follow this democratic route is fascist as well as farcical. Flouting norms of decency and FairPlay is also corruption, and not to understand these intricacies is all the more scandalous.

We have been warning against Hazare and his cohorts from the outset and the recent exposes are eye openers. Unprincipled activism and media manipulation cannot bring the needed change. Clarity on policy matters as well as religion is a must for representing the people in this country of great diversity.

Savitri Era Party draws inspiration from The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, and it is pertinent to note that most of the present political parties can trace their lineage to Sri Aurobindo although they hardly acknowledge that. Unity, Mutuality, & Harmony are our aim and pursuit of true Fratenity is the driving force. If India is to lead the world, then it has to be led by Savitri Era Party. [TNM55]

Sri Aurobindo wrote a shelf full of books

Post-1926, we meet a different Sri Aurobindo. The tone of his letters varies depending upon the addressee, autobiographical references slip out at times, and he touches upon several subjects within a blog-length reply. His revisionist and liberal attitude as regards the Indian tradition comes to the fore, so also his irreverence towards his renowned contemporaries. He delves deep into poetry, dismisses scientific psychology, and flirts with politics. Interestingly, he is keen in running of the Ashram as well and never forgets to write out advisories when necessary.

Factional scholastic debates of the past and the Theosophical grandstanding can be said to have dictated the tone of the Arya expositions. Understandably, Sri Aurobindo is cautious and seems to be a conservative as the motivational motive is also in play. Having tried his hand in recreating old themes in plays and poetry, he is attempting to realign more serious themes like philosophy, religion, and yoga in his commentaries. Overall, he establishes himself "as a person who wrote a shelf full of books" so that the likes of Heehs are impressed, the overarching theme of Self notwithstanding.

Sri Aurobindo's distinction from Vivekananda should be seen as the essential contribution of the former and needs to be appreciated threadbare. Any attempt to amalgam the two is a disservice to both, and hence, maintaining an uncompromising attitude is a must. It is also important to note how Sri Aurobindo has introduced several variations after The Mother's arrival in 1920. His letters compiled in the booklets like Bases of Yoga and The Mother stand testimony of this.

The aesthetic aspect of both the prose and poetry of Sri Aurobindo can be an independent pursuit and ennobling experience. As far as intellectual challenge is concerned, they offer unending and multifarious opportunities. Besides, the inspirational and intuitive treasures they harbour is fathomless. So, the interplay of these three aspects can become confusing at times and in the case of Savitri, especially, it can turn intoxicating. A levelheaded approach, therefore, is what The Mother & Sri Aurobindo demand from us. They never recommend to encourage quackery and peddling of therapy or numerology. [TNM55]

Friday, October 28, 2011

Perez and Anderson

During the Symposium on Greece-India in 1996 at IIC, a member of the audience put up a question as regards the psychological significances assigned by Sri Aurobindo to Vedic deities, to which the speaker from Greece replied that Sri Aurobindo is a known creative writer. Such a convincing affirmation, though valid in an academic context, is not the whole truth and hence misleading. This dichotomy is at the root of much misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Sri Aurobindo. Heehs' remark that Savitri is a fictional creation, for instance, rankles many admirers of the poem to this day.

Finding a solution to this problem seems to be impossible. Sri Aurobindo himself has preferred an academic diction for his essays as well as letters. Even his poetry invariably displays intellectual clarity. So, judging his oeuvre with scholarly yardsticks cannot be protested. But to deprecate the profundity of his writings and its extraordinary character is criminal.

The truth is that, the way Internet has facilitated mass publishing, it is difficult to track uninformed comments and write rebuttals. On the other hand, people like Perez and Anderson from the Integral stable are airing very sympathetic appraisals of Sri Aurobindo with the potential of influencing many young minds and helping them find a genuine philosophy of life. An honest quest arriving at Sri Aurobindo is a must. [TNM55]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ashram's imprint

When the damaging extracts from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo came out in the open, obviously everyone was shocked. Since some people took it upon themselves to defend the book, it was a confusing situation for a while; and even today it is difficult to gauge the extent of harm the book has inflicted or will inflict in the future. There have been widespread protests against the author and the Trustee-in-charge but none has been hostile towards the Ashram.

Helio's Savitri, in contrast, is an anti-Ashram step. Not only it robs the Master's writing of the sanctity of the Ashram's imprint, but also causes financial loss to the Ashram. As devotees, all must think over this matter afresh and be careful in future initiatives. [TNM55]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Freedom is not freely available

[Interest rate on savings bank deposits deregulated - Hindu Business Line - Oct 25, 2011
In the run-up to the deregulation of SB deposit interest rates, the central bank had directed banks to pay interest on these deposits on a daily product basis with effect from April 1, 2010. Banks currently pay 4 per cent interest on SB deposits.]

Fixed rates create a false sense of security among people and diminish risk appetite while in actuality floating returns are the reality considering inflation and non-optimal assets allocation. Inertia, of course, drives (rather, doesn't) substantial savings justifying the rule that no decision too is a decision, but to be a Sarvarambha Parityagi (G.12.16) in matters finance is likely to fetch higher interest in future.

Since exchange transactions are irrational, the need for price discovery is a crucial role discharged by competition. Freedom, in this sense, though desirable, is not always freely available. Finitude is the ontological constraint here, and this basic reality needs to be understood instead of simply blaming the Keynesians. OWS-wallahs too should fresh up on their Whitehead and Hartmann. [TNM55]