Institute of Human Study, in collaboration with Samvit Kendra and Pragna Bharati organized a day-long seminar on Sri Aurobindo’s `Thoughts and Writings’ – Auro Adhyayan on 21st August 2022 at CESS, Hyderabad. The seminar ‘Sri Aurobindo and India’ is supported by Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
Sri Bal Reddy of Samvit Kendra introduced the day’s topic and invited the Hon’ble Governor of Telangana, Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan to inaugurate the day’s proceedings. Dr Tamilisai inaugurated the seminar online, she wished the delegates a fruitful and successful day of deliberations.
Prof R.S. Sarraju, Pro Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University, and a member of Governing Board Auroville, in his opening remarks commended the organizers for conducting a seminar on Maharshi Aurobindo’s writings, thoughts and views and stated that Sri Aurobindo’s views are more relevant today than ever. Dr Chhalamayi Reddy of Aurobindo International School, the moving force behind the seminar presided over the session.
In the first session of the day, Prof Murali Manohar introduced Prof Ananda Reddy from Auroville who has dedicated his life to spreading the vision of Aurobindo and that of the Divine Mother. Prof Ananda Reddy in his keynote address stated that Mother was sure that those who were receptive of Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts will absorb his worldview in the coming years. He said Sri Aurobindo was a multifaceted, multi dimensional visionary who went beyond philosophy, beyond Hinduism and belongs to the entire globe. This year we are celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Maharshi Aurobindo where we all take part in the understanding of his consciousness.
From the vast ocean of Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts, he wrote in 1905, ‘I was born with the great mission of liberating India and the entire world. Bhagwan Srikrishna’s Divine command received by Sri Aurobindo directly was to liberate and uplift the nation, `speak to your nation, India’s liberation will pave the way for the world’s future’. It was with this spirit of Srikrishna and Maa Kali that he plunged into the modern Kurukshetra of India’s freedom struggle. It was also important to regain India’s spirituality which would enable her Renaissance. For him, all human activity is replete with spirituality, entirely based on the principles of Sanathana dharma, there’s no part of life which is ‘secular’ and devoid of Sanathana principles. In the entire world, attempt of India itself is to make the very path of life spiritual, all life is infused with Brahmam, life itself is full of divinity. India need not imitate western secular mode of functioning, we need to integrate life and all walks of life including politics with a spiritual connect. The challenge is to make life into Life Divine. Sri Aurobindo said Indians were blindly imitating the west, India’s poverty is not material poverty, but lack of original thinking, and that we have a `thought-phobia’. Even today when we have a profusion of universities, are they really of a better quality? Speaking of national education, he said we require a national ‘yagna’ of integral education for intellectual rejuvenation & Emotional or resurgence of vitality of life; our life should be full of vitality and energy if we want to achieve great heights of creativity and intellect, like our ancient Rishis achieved. Spirituality can only grow in the vast and deep life vitality, from material growth as well as from national spirit. Preparation of a material base is mandatory for the dawn of new spirituality, which is keyed into the Divine Order.
True spirituality comes in phases, physically, vitally, mentally and spiritually. Until our minds are spiritual, the New Age of Spirituality doesn’t arise. Nature is always interested in taking the whole of humanity along, not just a few great men and women who are born in every age. Sri Aurobindo stated ‘Spirituality is India’s only Politics, the fulfillment of Sanathana Dharma is the only Swaraj’. This is the message that Bhagwan Srikrishna gave to Arjuna and to Sri Aurobindo. True Swatantrata and Spiritual Evolution emerge from India’s own Sanathana Dharma. Sri Aurobindo felt that parliamentary form of Govt is not suited to India, however India may have to go through it to realize the utter helplessness, and hence would ultimately get rid of it. Sri Aurobindo has given considerable thought to the form of governance of India even in those early days, he felt we were simply aping the western model of Westminster model of parliamentary democracy devoid of Indian ethos. Post 1947, the systems of education, of governance, of polity were not based on India’s culture and ethos; the systems we adopted are all unsuitable to India. He believed India should strike it on her own path, and he has given us enough hints. Those thoughts may appear utopian today as we moved very far away from those. Sri Aurobindo has thought about India’s education, agriculture, polity over a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, we borrowed all our models from west. Today, it’s with the Divine Providence that we are bringing forth the thoughts and vision of Sri Aurobindo. He said ‘The soul of Hinduism languishes in an unhealthy body, we need to make India United and One’. The divisions between India and pakistan would also go. India can be the Guru of the world if she chooses. Sri Aurobindo had the divine vision ‘God has a chosen country in which the higher knowledge is preserved, and in this chatur-yuga, that country is India’. Once again let India revive it’s spiritual awakening of the ancient knowledge and Dharma with no divisions of caste religion or creed, India is the future’. Dr Ananda Reddy said the title of the seminar should be `Sri Aurobindo’s India’ and not `Sri Aurobindo and India’; Sri Aurobindo defined ‘the nation is my mother’. Bhagwan Srikrishna commanded him to liberate the nation, and to take the Sanathana Dharma of this country to the entire world. Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts are spread out in 35 volumes, it’s for us to learn from the Guru.
Prof Makarand Paranjape, eminent professor, scholar, author, presented his keynote address. Decades ago, Dr Paranjape put together the authoritative `Aurobindo Reader’, a compilation of select passages of Sri Aurobindo.
Prof Paranjape presenting the special talk ‘Bhavani – Bharathi : Sri Aurobindo’s Zeitgeist of the Nation’, said we have the unique privilege of celebrating the unique and wonderful conjecture, [email protected], and Sri [email protected] We need Shraddha and devotion, to developthe receptivity for true learning. Sri Aurobindo in his thoughts reflected on the ‘Deva-sangha’, with a collective consciousness and formlessness devoid of sectarianism. We must give a new soul and life, to our endeavors in polity, education, literature, arts etc – Kaliyuge Sanghe Shakti. A few letters from the vast Aurobindo literature, gives the soul to the new India, and the Spirit of the Age. Sri Aurobindo in his ‘The 5 dreams’ talks of the spirit of the nation, as well as the nation of the spirit. In spirit, we are all one, harmonizing all species on earth. Human evolution and consciousness revolution is incumbent upon us at this point of time. The nation of spirit is all of manava jathi, the whole of humanity.
Swaraat- Viraat: The Vedic idea – Swarajya Sukta from Rig-Veda, Chandogya, Kathopanishad and other Upanishads state the ideas of Swaraat – and we can see it in the glorious traditions of our Rajarshis- Janaka, Ajathashatru etc, and that idea of Swaraat is indeed Viraat. Sri Aurobindo elucidates the idea of Swaraj in 1906 in Nashik, ‘Swaraj is life, Amrit and salvation, it’s the breath of life, Swaraj is the life of nation’. Even as early as in 1896, in Cambridge, in ` Lotus and Daggers society’, he reflected on the idea and body of the nation. Our knowledge needs strength or Shakti to save us. Sanathana spirit requires a new strong body in the era of technology and digitization. Bhakti without Shakti is not sufficient. Strength is life, weakness is death. Freedom is the law of the soul. Unfortunately, power operates through coercion and control, we have to resist it. Dr Paranjape said that the sense of historic destiny of Indian nation has very much permeated Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts and writings. When Sanathana Dharma or Spiritual Nationalism declines, the nation declines. He said Revisiting `Sri Aurobindo’s magnificent `Bhavani Bharati’ will enable us to work towards the unfinished business of India’s Renaissance. To move towards the spirit of nation, we need to cultivate not just Rashtra-Yagna, but Vishwa- Yagna.
Sri Ayush Nadimpalli, General Secretary of Samachara Bharati and Samvit Kendra introduced the speakers of the afternoon session. He remarked that Indian Arts and Aesthetics represent the Bharati aspect of the very same glorious Bhavani-Bharati tradition. Adi Shankaracharya’s Soundarya Lahari expresses the Divine Mother’s beauty and magnificence.
Dr Beloo Mehra from Auroville, prolific writer, author of several journal articles presented her talk on ‘Indian Artistic and Literary Culture in the Light of Sri Aurobindo’. The session on Indian Arts and Aesthetics was a `multi-sensory’ experience, with beautiful pictures and paintings. ‘Raso Vai Sah- verily He is the delight’- Sri Aurobindo is said to have remarked when asked about his humor and wit. The experience-oriented Indian art is reflected in Sat-Chit-Ananda as represented in the Shiva-Shakti cosmic dance of Tandava and Lasya. The quintessential aspect of the Indian view on art and beauty, is of harmony and oneness. Sri Aurobindo remarks in his epic poem `Savitri’- ‘beauty is his footprint showing us where he has passed’. The integral vision of art in India provides both pleasure and education and is deeply connected with life. The rock-art of Bhimbhetka, the yogic posture of Pasupathinatha and, Yagnavedis dating back to Vedic period, emphasize that man is one with the Supreme Soul. Indian art was always integral, never differentiated between classical or folk arts. Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Renaissance in India’ discusses Indian Sculpture, Temple Architecture and paintings including Ajantha. ‘The highest purpose of Indian art at it greatest, is to disclose something of Self, the Infinite, and the Divine to the regard of soul’ says Sri Aurobindo. He said ‘Reality for its own sake’ is the Tyranny of the Eye, similarly ‘Beauty for the sake of beauty’ is the Tyranny of aesthetic imagination’. Art according to him is a Yoga for the Artist.
Sri J. Nanda Kumar, scholar, author, RSS National Executive member, and Convenor Pragna Pravah in his interesting talk presented the idea of ‘Swatantra’ which permeates the land whether in the common man or in Parama Siva. Some Intellectuals believe that India got Freedom from colonists, this is not really true, and therefore it is an important duty of every citizen, especially youth to remember our history. For that we need to start understanding the true meaning of ‘Swatantrata’. Sri Aurobindo believed that, Awakening of India should happen in moral and spiritual ways, and not just mechanically. Swatantra should not be by limiting ourselves to changing the Government only. However, political spiritualization was only one part, ideal way involves the infusion of Dharma into all walks of life- Political, Social, Arts and Literature etc. Our Sanatan Dharma is not only our National religion but also the Universal religion; we have to keep fighting for Sanatan Dharma. As Prime Minister Modi, in his recent 75th Independence Day speech talked about `Panch Pran’, the second pledge clearly is meant to eradicate colonized mental slavery.
In his ‘Awakening of India’ Sri Aurobindo says that independence is not just a political change of govt, but the awakening of the soul of the nation as well as the ‘all-important Dharma, the national religion which is also universal’. The spirit of Sanathana Dharma has to mould all walks of life, which is actually the true independence. The Bengal partition by the British, `Vanga-bhanga’ of 1905, saw the uprising of Bharat singing Vande mataram- the ‘Swa’ of Bharat was the clarion call which forced British to reverse the partition. Avanindranath Tagore presented Maa Bharati as a Yogini. From 1905- 1911, Sri Aurobindo was politically very active. The motive of the British behind the Partition of Bengal was to divide the people, they did it as an experiment to test the waters. However, entire Bharat reacted to this partition. The Tamil poet Subhramanya Bharati, took darshan of the Lotus Feet of Maa Kali and received the Prasad; he believed that Bharat’s left hand is divided, and it is our duty to fight. Finally, Bharat won because everyone came forward. Here the `Swa’ was the main inspiration. We need to ask ourselves, What happened to Vande Mataram? What happened to ‘Bharat Mata Mandir?’, What happened to ‘Netaji?’ Unfortunately after 1912, the nationalistic spirit of Vandematharam itself was diluted to such an extent that by mid 1930s, the western theories of socialism and communism took hold in the then national leadership during the freedom struggle. In 1923 Kakinada AICC session, our national leadership wanted Western validation, and didn’t even allow the singing of Vande Mataram. Russia is the only nation, which followed its own way and did not require any validation from the West. If we want to be sovereign, we have to live upto the principle of swatantra, just `Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogan is not enough.
It is said that if the Mind becomes a vacuum, it will be filled with trash. We were not able to give a strong fight because even after Independence we were not completely free. History has to be remembered correctly without being selective. Even though we enjoy the fruits of freedom of the sacrifices of freedom fighters, they were tactfully sidelined. The real freedom fighters and icons like Alluri Sitaramaraju, Velu Nachiyar were sidelined and ignored. Presently, the Amrit mahotsav @75 is an opportunity to pay our gratitude to the forgotten heroes. Sri Arabindo’s Uttarapada speech stood for spiritual democracy and nationalistic fervor. He declared Sanathana Dharma as our nationalism. He said no evolution is possible without involution, he also defined the ‘Super mind’; unfortunately our Science Institutes have followed `Greek 4-elements theory’ and not the `5-elements’ of Bharat. India was the center of scientific advancement in ancient times. Sri Aurobindo stated that despite the emergence of brahmins as a knowledgeable class, India never slid into theocracy as in West; it is significant that above the Brahmins and Kshatriya kings, were Rishis who belonged to all communities. Kings were aided by advisory councils, the kings’ powers were never absolute. Dharma remained the basic principle of life equally applicable to kings as well as society. The impersonal sovereign sacred authority was always Dharma. Critics of Indian culture never accepted Indian antiquity, whereas Bharat was always supreme in its integral Sciences, Arts and Philosophies. All arts were always a manifestation and blessing of Maa Saraswathi. The vivisection of Bharat in 1947 was addressed only by the trikala-darshi Maharshi Sri Aurobindo, and he expressed the hope that this land will unite again, he said ‘partition of the country must and will go’. Sri Aurobindo’s followers must always remember this aim.
In the concluding remarks, Sri Ayush Nadimpalli said we must ponder over what happened between 1912-1947, and we need to think, express, write and talk on the various aspects that would lead to strengthening and unification of Bharat. He said Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Renaissance of India’ is a must-read for all people.
The sessions were followed by a lively Q&A, in which the speakers gave guidance and inspiration. If Sanskrit was made the national language during the languages debate after 1947, it would have given the opportunity for the people to go into the Indic knowledge systems, however the then leadership declared it as a ‘dead’ language, while it was and is alive and thriving. This was the respect given for Indic traditions after 1947. In the ensuing ‘amrit-kal’ before 2047, we need to take inspiration from Sri Aurobindo to realize the dream of unification of Bharat. If people have atma bal, buddhi bal and bhuj bal, and when we have the courage to fight for Dharma, the nation could undo the partition and reunify. Sri Aurobindo has given certain prophesies and implied assurances that Akhand Bharat would see the reunification again.
Dr Chhalamayi Reddy quoted the words of Maharshi Aurobindo regarding the unassailable indivisible soul of Bharat, and called upon all of us to rededicate ourselves to the cause of the nation. She suggested that universities and academia should seriously consider teaching Aurobindo studies. She stated that Institute of Human Study has been continuously doing courses and exhibitions on Auro Avalokan, Adhyayan, Sammelans and Utsavs on Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Giridharan from Pragna Bharati magazine proposed the Vote of Thanks and thanked all the speakers for the wonderful erudite talks delivered by them through the day on the special debate on Sri Aurobindo’s India.
- Report by Pradakshina