Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moral, intellectual and spiritual perfection of mankind is the aim

To celebrate the centenary of Sri Aurobindo's life in Pondicherry, the children from the theatre group Nishumbita presented a play focusing on the leader, philosopher, transformer and freedom fighter's journey to the seaside and the historic town of Pondicherry. The play
The story of the play started with Aurobindo Ghose’s life in Baroda when he was invited by KG Deshpande to take charge of the weekly paper Induprakash. It was during this time when Sri Aurobindo started engaging in revolutionary activities with Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Jatindra Nath Banerji. After the Bengal partition, he shifted base to Bengal where his activities for purna swaraj continued.
During to his revolutionary writing, he was arrested on the charge of keeping explosives at his home in regards to the Alipore Bomb Case. It was during his stay in the jail that he attained his spiritual power and became a devotee of Lord Krishna. With the help of firebrand lawyer Chitaranjan Das, he was finally acquitted. In 1910, tired of relentless British persecution, Sri Aurobindo retired from politics and moved to Pondicherry.
The play, being a complete children’s play, had active participation from them and projected commendable acting skills. But the highlight of the play was the performers’ familiarity with history and the inspirational message about the life of Sri Aurobindothat was sent to the children sitting in the audience.
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I was born into a world without villains. The British had left India. We were a free nation. There were many heroes: Gandhi, Subhash Bose, Sri Aurobindo, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Ambedkar. Remarkable guys who fought, each in his own way to bring us freedom. A spanking new nation was about to be built. Everyone was excited. It was heady times; it felt great to be an Indian. All our other identities were subsumed… It wasn’t only Marxism. Politics failed India.
The most urgent task that lies before the Indo-Europeans today is to recover their original spiritual character and reform the degenerate type of democratic government, which has been forced upon them. The natural revulsion to the Marxist democratic ethos is evident both in Indian as well as in European thinkers. I may point, for an example of the spiritual focus of politics, to one of India's earliest nationalists, Aurobindo Ghosh, who, in his essay "Asiatic Democracy", declared that, unlike most western democracies, Indian civilisation seeks "the fulfillment of the highest tendencies of human civilisation and it must include in its sweep the most vital impulses of modern life. It will include democracy and Socialism also, purifying them, raising them above the excessive stress on the economic adjustments which are the means, and teaching them to fix their eyes more constantly and clearly on the moral, intellectual and spiritual perfection of mankind, which is the aim.

Aurobindo identifies the fundamental weakness of modern democracy as being due to the fact that "It took as its motive the rights of man and not the Dharma [natural duty] of humanity; it appealed to the selfishness of the lower classes against the pride of the upper; it made hatred and internecine war the permanent allies of Christian ideals and wrought an inextricable confusion which is the modern malady of Europe."
India's task, however, is to regenerate the modern western concept of democracy in the light of its spiritual intuitions: Her mission is to point back humanity to the true source of human liberty, equality, and human brotherhood. When man is free in spirit, all other freedom is at his command; for the Free is the Lord who cannot be bound. When he is liberated from delusion, he perceives the divine equality of the world which fulfills itself through love and justice, and this perception transfuses itself into the law of government and society ... Dharma is the Indian conception in which rights and duties lose the artificial antagonism created by a view of the world which makes selfishness the root of action, and regain their deep and eternal unity.

The system of caste in ancient
India was indeed a necessary social framework for the cultivation of Hindu Dharma. It was instituted "in order to secure an ordered society in which she could develop her spiritual insight and perfect her civilization". In his essay "Caste and Democracy", Sri Aurobindo distinguishes castes from the European classes, which were a predominantly economic and materialistic division. As he says, The division of castes in India was conceived as a distribution of duties. A man's caste depended on his dharma, his spiritual, moral and practical duties, and his dharma depended on his swabhav, his temperament, and inborn nature ... Caste therefore was … a supreme necessity without which Hindu civilisation could not have developed its distinctive character or worked out its unique mission.

Interestingly, the urge to reform the mechanical conception of democracy as a rule by numbers according to a more authentic Indo-European socio-political ethos was most markedly present in the German conservative writers of the early part of this century, who sought to combat the false economic sociology of the Jewish thinker, Karl Marx. Oswald Spengler, for example, the author of the celebrated cultural history of the Occident, The Decline of the West, points in his essay "Prussianism and Socialism" to the merits of the traditional Prussian system of social organisation as compared to the capitalistic system of party politics and parliamentarianism: The Prussian style of living ... has produced a profound and vigorous rank-consciousness, a feeling of unity based on an ethos of work, not leisure. It unites the members of each professional group - military, civil service, and labour - by infusing them with a pride of vocation and dedicates them to activity that benefits all others, the totality, the state ... The bond of unity at all levels is a supreme ethos of dedication, not of success.
[Aurobindo: Prophet of human unity Sidney Kartus]

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