Sunday, September 27, 2015

Van Vrekhem does not inquire into matters like avatarhood or divine force
Mar 4, 2001 - The Mother and the biographer's dilemma
Biographers tend to idolise their subjects or portray them as all too human. Georges Van Vrekhem's biography of Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of Auroville, manages an ideal balance, says PETER HEEHS.

HOW should a writer recount the life of an extraordinary person? By concentrating on what makes that person different? The result is likely to strain our credibility. Of course, this is what most readers want. For them, the more incredible the events in remarkable people's lives, the greater their appeal. But some readers will be put off by this approach. For them, what is interesting about extraordinary people is the qualities they share with the rest of us. If they achieved great things, it was by making great efforts, often by overcoming great obstacles. But writers who stress the "humanity" of their subjects, often end up debunking them. How to avoid these two extremes is the biographer's dilemma: too much stress on what makes the subject extraordinary, and the work becomes hagiography; too much stress on what makes the subject human, and it moves towards iconoclasm. The problem is to find the right balance, and this is not an easy task. When the subject is a yogi or a saint, it is all but impossible.
Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, was, by any measure, an extraordinary woman. An intelligent student, gifted painter and musician, remarkable writer and speaker, she was at home in the highest cultural circles of Paris when Paris was the cultural capital of the world. At the same time, she had a vibrant inner life which led her first to Algeria, where she studied with a Kabbalistic master, and then to India, where she met Sri Aurobindo. Eventually settling in Pondicherry, she was acknowledged by him as his spiritual equal and collaborator.
When he retired from public view, she became the active head of his ashram, showing a remarkable genius for organisation and administration. If the ashram, and Auroville, have become respected centres of spiritual and practical experimentation, it is due to the Mother's fostering touch.
There are many different narratives hidden in the Mother's life, but the one that stands out is the transformation of a girl from a non-religious family in France into a woman worshipped by thousands in India as an incarnation of the Divine Shakti. The little girl seemed ordinary enough but, when she sat in her room, she had visions of a more perfect world. The young artist painted well enough but was developing her psychic abilities along with her drawing and brushwork. A few years later, when she went to meet the formidable occultist Max Theon, and he told her: "You are now at my mercy. Aren't you afraid?", she shot back: "I am never afraid: I have the Divine here, in my heart."
Back in Paris, she got to know Abdul Baha, Inayat Khan and other spiritual teachers, yet remained dissatisfied; but the moment she met Sri Aurobindo she knew that this was the one she had been seeking. He too seemed to have been waiting for someone. He said later that she was one of only two people who had been able to give him spiritual help. When the ashram was formed, he handed its spiritual as well as its material direction over to her.
The life of such a person is likely to defeat the best efforts of the biographer. Several attempts have been made to tell the Mother's life-story, but they give either too much or too little. Some writers tried to pack every available fact between two, or ten, bulging covers. Readers willing to plough through these tomes will find many things of interest but no coherent picture - or if they do find one, it is more a reflection of the author's bias than a reliable portrait. A second group of writers reduced the material to a bare minimum, leaving only an assemblage of familiar anecdotes and events. The need for a full but not fulsome biography remained. This need has been met by Georges Van Vrekhem's The Mother: The Story of Her Life.
A poet and playwright in his native Belgium before coming to India in 1970, Van Vrekhem joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and eight years later migrated to Auroville. He has translated several books on Indian spirituality into Dutch, and is the author of a well-received biography of Sri Aurobindo: Beyond Man. In writing about the life of Sri Aurobindo's collaborator, he enjoyed a number of advantages: an exhaustive knowledge of the Mother's works in French and English, an acquaintance with everything written about her in those and other European languages, and, above all, the privilege of having met her. He has made good use of his printed sources, doing an especially fine job of situating the Mother in the world of fin-de-siecle France, and, at the other end of her life, plumbing the mysteries of her attempt to divinise the body. No academic historian, he sometimes accepts sources that would better be ignored, and fails to cross-question others that are generally reliable but incomplete. As a result, he sometimes commits minor errors of fact. But his intention was not to write a critic-proof monograph but rather an evocative narrative. In this he has succeeded admirably. If he lacks the academic's precision, he has the dramatist's flair for framing a scene, using his own wide knowledge, and a variety of historical works, to place the Mother on an authentically fashioned stage. And the drama he has her play in is the noblest one imaginable: the struggle of the divine in humanity to evolve its highest possibilities.
But how does Van Vrekhem deal with the biographer's dilemma? The Mother he gives us is human but not bound by her humanity, extraordinary without being a caricature of sainthood. Some may feel that he takes too much for granted, does not inquire into matters like "avatarhood" or "divine force" in a way that would satisfy the unconverted. But his book is both more complete and more balanced than any previous biography, a rich and readable introduction to the life of one of the most remarkable women of the 20th Century.
The Mother: The Story of Her Life, Georges Van Vrekhem, HarperCollins, p.545, Rs. 495.

How do you write about a man who is known to some as a politician, to others as a poet and critic, to still others as a philosopher, and to a not inconsiderable number as an incarnation of God? This is one of the problems a biographer of Sri Aurobindo (Aurobindo Ghose, 1872-1950) has to face. Known in the West mostly to specialized audiences (people interested in South Asian history, literature, philosophy, and spirituality), Aurobindo is renowned in his native India as one of the most outstanding, and most many-sided men of the twentieth century. This has not prevented his legacy from being bitterly disputed... I tried to do justice to all sides of this versatile man, but to do so I had to be unconventional in more ways than one. Posted by Columbia University Press

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Schools of Sri Aurobindo institutions in West Bengal

Sri Aurobindo Teachers' Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015

Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015  Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015  Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015
The teachers' conference aiming at bringing the schools of Sri Aurobindo institutions in West Bengal together to meet and deliberate for a day was organized by Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre, New Alipore, on Saturday, 17th January 2015, where the Centre schools participated with their respective delegations. Among those present were :
- Arun Nursery (the pre-primary section of Future Foundation School), Kolkata
- The New Horizon High School, Kolkata
- Sri Aurobindo Centre of Education, Hooghly
- Sri Aurobindo Vidyapith, Dogachia
- Rishi Dham, Tamluk
- Sri Aurobindo Society, Durgapur
- Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Krishnanagar
- Sri Aurobindo Education Centre, Habra
- Sri Aurobindo Patha Bhavan, Kalyani
- Sri Aurobindo Education Centre, Purulia
- Ushagram Vidyaniketan, Ushagram
- Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir, Kolkata
Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015  Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015  Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015
Apart from the above-mentioned institutions, delegations from the Education Cell of Sri Aurobindo's Action - West Bengal and students of the Montessori Teachers Training Centre of Netaji Subhash Open University were present. The participating institutions gave presentations on the topic "Children's Education - daily problems faced and their solutions in your own experience". The conference began at 10.00 am and ended at 4.25 pm with an hour's lunch recess in between. Delegates participated with enthusiasm in the question-answer sessions exchanging views amongst themselves. A memento commemorating the event was released and given to all participating institutions. Certificates were handed over to all participants.
Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015  Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015  Sri Aurobindo Teachers" Conference 2015 - 17th January 2015
About 150 delegates attended the Conference.
In the summing up session, Sri Subrata Sen, Secretary, Sri Aurobindo's Action West Bengal Chapter, urged the participating institutions to think of forming a Forum of the Sri Aurobindo institution schools and other such schools following the ideas and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in West Bengal which was seconded by Smt. Bonhishikha Sarkar, Principal, The New Horizon High School.

Seminar : Sri Aurobindo & The Mother on Education

Seminar : Sri Aurobindo & The Mother on Education  Seminar : Sri Aurobindo & The Mother on Education  Seminar : Sri Aurobindo & The Mother on Education
On 20th December 2014 (Saturday), a seminar was organized at Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre, New Alipore, with the pre-primary teachers' training wing of Netaji Subhash Open University conducted by the organization Agami Nirmaan where the trainee pre-primary teachers undergoing the course of the University participated. Sri Subrata Sen and Sri Partha Sarathi Bose spoke on the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on education. Dr. Anirban Ghosh, Head of the Vocational Training Wing of Netaji Subhas Open University and Dr. Sanghamitra Mukherjee, Director of the pre-primary teachers' training centre of the University at New Alipore spoke on the occasion. A presentation was made by the teachers of Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir on their experiences of implementing the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in their day to day teaching.

Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose

Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose  Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose  Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose
To recognize the invaluable contribution of individuals, especially women — the Shakti behind one and all — for their outstanding contribution in the fields of literature, art, education and music, Overman Foundation has started a new award — the Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar — named after the late Bulbul Mukherjee (4.10.1934—15.8.1990). The inaugural Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar was awarded to Mrs. Chitra Bose, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre Trust and Honorary Secretary cum Principal of Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir (New Alipore, Kolkata) for her contribution in the field of education.
Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose  Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose  Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar awarded to Smt. Chitra Bose
The award ceremony was be held on Monday, 10th November 2014, at 6.30 p.m. at Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre, New Alipore, Kolkata. In the programme conducted by Mr. Anurag Banerjee - the Founder Chairman of Overman Foundation, Mr. Subroto Sen, the Secretary of Sri Aurobindo’s Action West Bengal Trust, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and handed over the award. Prabrajika Divyaprana Mataji, Secretary of Sree Sarada Ashram (New Alipore) also graced the ceremony as a Special Guest. Apart from addresses by the Guests, Sri Partha Sarathi Bose, Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre, spoke on the journey of Sakti Centre from the past to the present. Mrs. Chitra Bose reminiscended her childhood days and the legacy of her father Late Harendra Nath Majumdar, a devotee of the Mother and the erstwhile Chairman of Sri Aurobindo Society, West Bengal, who was a minister in the cabinet of Dr. Prafulla Ghosh; her meeting the Mother at Pondicherry; starting of a kindergarten school in 1977 christened Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir with only 5 students and mattresses to sit upon owing to lack of basic furniture in the then dilapidated building and bringing it up to be one of the eminent pre-primary schools of south Kolkata based on the ideas and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, providing quality education with a present strength of more than 350 students in Nursery and Kindergarten sections.

Certificate Programme - Introduction to Sri Aurobindo Studies

Introduction to Sri Aurobindo Studies  Introduction to Sri Aurobindo Studies  Introduction to Sri Aurobindo Studies
Perhaps for the first time in West Bengal, a Certificate Programme has been initiated titled Introduction to Sri Aurobindo Studies where participants interested in getting an introductory knowledge on Sri Aurobindo - his life and works - are being given an idea on topics like Principles of Integral Education, Sri Aurobindo and History, The Problem of Life and Sri Aurobindo, Socio-political development of man, Foundations of Indian Culture, Sri Aurobindo and Art, Sri Aurobindo and The Gita, Sri Aurobindo and The Vedas, The Supermind in Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy, Sri Aurobindo's Vision of the Future, Sri Aurobindo and Future Poetry w.s.r.t. Savitri, Sri Aurobindo's Vision of the Life Divine along with his life. Faculty members conducting the sessions include Sri Anurag Banerjee of Overman Foundation, Sri Subrata Sen - Secretary, Sri Aurobindo's Action, West Bengal Chapter, Prof. (Dr.) Indrani Sanyal of Jadavpur University and Sri Gautam Banerjee. The Programme has begun on 4th September and is supposed to end around mid-December. Sessions are being held on Thursdays and Sundays. The Programme has been drawn up and organized in collaboration with Overman Foundation, Kolkata - a forerunner research organization on Sri Aurobindo.

Talk Session : The Mother on Education - 26th April

Four aspects of The Mother  Four aspects of The Mother  Four aspects of The Mother
On 26th April (Saturday) evening, Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre organized a talk session on the topic - The Mother on Education (Siksha prasangey Sri Ma in Bengali) by Sri Anurag Banerjee of Overman Foundation, Kolkata. After a brief on the thoughts of The Mother on education, an interactive session followed in which teachers narrated their experiences in handling students and organizing their classes where The Mother's thoughts could be brought in. An interview of Sri Manoj Dasgupta, Managing Trustee, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, narrating the ideas and ideals of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram School (later International Centre of Education) and what The Mother expected of teachers there was shown to the assembled audience who could catch the essence of education in the light of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. A group of teachers of Sri Aurobindo Centre school, Purulia, travelled to Kolkata to attend the session. Apart from the teachers of Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir, teachers and administrators of five other schools of non-Aurobindonian background (including a government school in the rural belt of South 24 Parganas District) attended along with other members and devotees. A book recently published by Sri Aurobindo's Action, West Bengal Chapter, on the problems faced by the child and their solutions was distributed to members of the teaching community present.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sri Aurobindo's symbols from the Vedas are pregnant with deep spirituality
Sri M. P. Pandit has done a great service in aiding the reader in obtaining a deeper and more complete understanding of the concepts of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga.
Indrani Sanyal, ‎Krishna Roy - 2007 - ‎Snippet view
This Volume Explores Various Dimensions Of Thoughts Of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), Respected As A Patriot, Nationalist, Social Reformer, Educationist, Historian, Poet, Visionary, Yoga And A Philosopher.
Monica Gupta - 2014 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
A new vision of human development based on Sri Aurobindo's understanding of humanity discussed above, can provide a framework through which one can understand and facilitate the need for con- scious self-growth of humanity.
Sachidananda Mohanty - 2012 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
This book compiles some of the finest writings of Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950) — the nationalist, visionary, poet-philosopher.
Santosh Krinsky - 2014 - ‎Preview
Accepting the fact of rebirth turns our understanding of karma in a spiritual direction. It means ... “Sri Aurobindo has provided what may be the most comprehensive, cogent, clear and balanced view of karma and rebirth available. Aurobindo  ...
Santosh Krinsky - 2013 - ‎Preview
... from many forms of human iniquity such as we find in the lives of Rama, Krishna, Jesus, and even Sri Aurobindo himself. ... books of readings in Sri Aurobindo, Santosh Krinsky has taken the primary points of Sri Aurobindo's understanding,  ...
Many of us face the difficulty of trying to change something in our nature, only to find that it is either difficult or virtually impossible.
Peter Heehs - 2008 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
A. Roy, ed., “Conversations with Sri Aurobindo,” Sri Aurobindo Circle 35 (1979): 21. 83. Sri Aurobindo, talk of May 12, 1926, Haradhan Bakshi Papers, notebook 3 , 125–126, in SAAA. 84. B. Ghose, “Sri Aurobindo as I Understand Him,”87–88.
Sri Aurobindo . he concept of evolution is the key to understand Sri Aurobindo's Metaphysics as well as his Social Philosophy. That, again, is the basis of his speculations about the future of mankind. The validity of these speculations, is the  ...
Verinder Grover - 1993 - ‎Preview
At least such should be the basis of approach to the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. ... In another way, to understand the Truth — the Truth that the words of the Mother of Sri Aurobindo express — you must start by living it, approaching ...
We talk about “space-time” for instance and yet we do not really gain anunderstanding of what is going on. ... Similarly in the field of life, Sri Aurobindopoints out that while we can see the process of a seed developing into a tree, and we can  ...
Sri Aurobindo has successfully achieved this understanding and hence his symbols from the Vedas are pregnant with deep spirituality. It is the same understanding which has enabled him to adopt these Vedic and mythological symbols so  ...
Rāmacandra Miśra - 1998 - ‎Preview
So it is difficult to understand how there can be an evolution after supramental transformation. The triple principle of Saccidananda, namely, bliss, consciousness and existence will surely manifest according to Sri Aurobindo after the  ...
Prefatory Here I propose to delineate the main conceptual characteristics of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Sociology and to stress ... Sri Aurobindo is against the method of trying to understand and interpret human nature primarily in terms of external  ...
XIX), first serialized in Arya and revised during the l930s, articulates Sri Aurobindo's theories of existence, knowledge, evolution, ... Nozick (Leiden, E.J. Brill, l986) is an important recent contribution to understanding Sri Aurobindo's philosophy.
M. P. Pandit - 1987 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Sethna's writings on Savitri and Sri Aurobindo the Poet, Purani's Approach to Savitri, Prema Nandkumar's doctoral ... and Pandit's Readings in Savitri (of which five Volumes are out so far) are helpful for a proper understanding of the work. Sri ...