Friday, October 31, 2008

The unity of the subcontinent was a cherished wish of Sri Aurobindo

from aju mukhopadhyay <> to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" <> date 11 October 2008 21:26 subject Re: World Union and Supramental
8, Cheir Lodi Street, Pondicherry
Of the possibility of a World Government on Spiritual Foundation
by Aju Mukhopadhyay

That mankind is proceeding toward some kind of unity is without any doubt. If hindrances are found Nature will seek and find the right course to move on. If it is based on spirituality the problem will almost go for men will see others as themselves, the relation among them will be based on psychic and soul realisation.

Clash of Religions
Joy and pride of triumph take the people and nation to such heights that they always ride on their high horses. Romans persecuted Jesus and built Christian religion after him using his life and work as the symbol of their religion. The European nations, proud of their riches and modern civilisation, thought of their religion as superior to others. They conquered large number of countries and converted many of the vanquished to Christianity with the lofty idea of civilising them as they were. With the advent of aggressive Islam, who conquered nations and converted the infidels to their religion, the two highly ambitious religions clashed. Religion became the source of power and pride. Religious war continued for centuries. Still now it plays its role. Trying to convert others to one’s own religion is a kind of expansionism. Converters do not wish to face any hindrance on the way. The Pope has expressed displeasure at the effort in some province in India to ban conversion by passing act.
In this connection a story told by the Mother of Pondicherry comes to our mind. She was coming by ship from France to meet Sri Aurobindo for the first time in 1914. In the ship she met a Presbyterian who conducted the Sunday mass in a cabin. All joined him except the Mother. She was later told by the clergyman that he was going to China to convert the ‘heathens’. At this she became serious and told him, ‘Listen, even before your religion was born- not even two thousand years ago- the Chinese had a very high philosophy and knew a path leading them to the Divine; and when they think of Westerners, they think of them as barbarians. And so you are going there to convert those who know more about it than you?’ (The Mother. Pondicherry; Collected Works. V-8. p.150)
The war continued for years in Bosnia-Herzegovina and adjacent areas among Slavs all of whom originally belonged to Yugoslavia. Sir Arthur Evans, a scholar, wrote after his visit to the area in his book, Through Bosnia-Herzegovina on Foot (London:1876), ‘ After the 11th century many Bosnians were no longer Catholics but followed agnostic, puritanical form of Christianity. The Catholic rulers and those of neighbouring kingdoms were frequently ordered by the Pope to chastise them. . . for more than three centuries, many thousands were killed, many more tortured; once 40000 were arrested and many of them were dragged in chains all the way to Rome (As reported in The Asian Age of 10.7.1995).

In 1450 many such Bosnians appealed to Turkish Sultan and were converted to Islam in due course. The fight continued to the present era in different forms.
Afghanistan was a melting spot of cultures. It was a Buddhist centre up to ninth century when Islam entered the valley. Buddha statues, 50 and 34.5 metres in height at Bamiyan, were two pieces of great heritage of human art and culture. On 2 March 2001 Taliban, one of the crudest religious fundamentalists, destroyed such statues by gun, rocket and tank fires in the face of world wide protest. Mr. Mulla Mohammad Omar, the supreme leader of the fanatics, said that it was in line with the fatwa from local Islamic clerics, designed to prevent worshipping of ‘false idols’.
Persecution, torture and death at the hands of religious fanatics continue to grow. Fight between the Turkish army and Kurdish workers continued for 16 years. Both Hizbollah and Fazelet fought to replace Turkey’s secular system with an Islamic agenda.
Three extremists were sentenced to death and many others punished as they tried to overthrow the Malaysian Government and replace it with an Islamic State in 2000-2001. A Muslim State in Nigeria pronounced fatwa to kill the author of an article which was insulting to Prophet Mohammad. Such fatwa were issued against authors by the Iranian Head of the Government, Ayatollah Khomeini and the clerics in Bangladesh.
In recent months world has witnessed series of massacres on different countries for publishing caricatures of Prophet Mohammad by cartoonists in response to an invitation by the Danish Government as a symbol of the freedom of expression. Writers like Salman Rushdie, Tasleema Nasrin, philosopher Henri-Levy, Chahla Chafiq and others issued statement expressing fear of Islamic totalitarianism.

Muslims constitute 40 out of about 180 nations of the world. They cover about one sixth of the global population and 40 per cent of the oil rich areas of the globe. Yet they clash more among themselves than with others. Oil rich countries are more aligned to the West and have less affinity with poor and populous Muslim countries. The longest war after the Second World War was fought between Iraq and Iran. The Gulf war was triggered by Muslims.
Islamic terrorism has spread everywhere: Chechneya, Moscow, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa. As all countries have become cautious and prepared so soft targets are more preferred, calling for more innocent lives. A writer like Hasan Suroor laments that all the miscreants crying jihad or killing innocents are doing it in the name of Allah and there is no pious Muslim to decry it. The writer feels that it is the wrong doers who are at falut, not the Islam.
Besides the largest Islamic religious groups there are violent activists otherwhere also, like LTTE in Sri Lanka or Maoists and other regional groups in India. The Hindu fundamentalists brought down the historic structure Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and complicated the issue.
Religionists would do well if they stop thinking that their religion is the only great one to be followed by others and begin to follow Sri Ramakrishna, who said that all paths lead to the same goal, the divine. Long back our Veda pronounced, Ekam sadvipra bahudha vadanti. The Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.

Clash of Ideas
After religion, moderns clashed violently over the world of ideas. Communism and Capitalism/ Democracy are the two rival ideas which influenced the largest number of people in the modern world. Communism brought the hope to many that it would spread throughout the world and men would unite under the leadership of the proletariat. But it turned out to be a mechanical dictatorship; dictatorship of a few and finally of one autocrat. After the sacrifice of innumerable human lives, ambitious communist Governments became expansionist, suppressing large number of people and race under it. The two largest Governments were USSR and China. People never lived peacefully under them until the changes occurred. Internecine fights continued. The internal state of affairs in communist countries was exposed by some writers of the lands. A few such names are, Mikhail Solokhov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Svetlana Aliluyeva, Silviu Craciunas and Jung Chang.
Utter lack of freedom, discontent and various other troubles brought fissures in the apparent solid bodies of such Governments. The constituent countries of the erstwhile USSR revolted. Mikhail Gorbachov avoided the blood shed and led the people through his unique Perestroika and Glasnost from communism to democracy. 12 constituent parts of USSR became independent nations united by commonwealth of CIS countries. East European communist countries gradually came out of the chains and became independent countries. Some countries like Tibet and Hongkong have been brought under the communist China and Taiwan is also in the process of inclusion as China is said to be their Mother Country. China has realized the world order and has shifted from its previous stand. It has invited huge foreign investment in the country. The right to individual property has been accepted and its economy is running in sort of capitalist line.

There has never been any communist Government in India. The Governments formed by left parties in three provinces functioned democratically under the Indian Republic. West Bengal is a province with longest record of such Government. A recent interview with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, published in The Hindu, revealed the position. Excerpts from a few replies given by him will clear the point.
‘We are closely observing the development taking place all over the world; changes are taking place in China and Vietnam on one side and Latin America on the other. . . .
‘China and Vietnam, they learnt lessons from the failures of the Soviet Union that stemmed from being totally cut off from world economy, its highly centralized command economy. . . . These countries have decided that this command system does not work
. . . .
‘Earlier communists used to think, as might have been in the case of erstwhile Soviet Union, that communists know everything under the sun. This is not right.’

Though the leaders have of late realised this, Sri Aurobindo predicted this long ago in his The Ideal of Human Unity. Rabindranath was overwhelmed by the material progress of the Soviets but he too foresaw a crack down of such a mechanised system. Devoid of God and spiritualism, there is no possibility of Unity under this system.

Clash of Civilisations
Ultimately it seems to be a clash and conflict of civilizations. Each civilization sticks to its root in spite of tremendous progress in transport and communication, reducing their apparent differences. Professor Huntington, the author of Clash of Civilisations, defined civilization as the highest cultural grouping of people at the broadest level. While Arnold Toynbee identified 21 major civilisations of which six existed, Huntington listed eight.
Relations between countries and nations have significantly changed. Many isms have vanished from the scene. The cold war between the US and the USSR ended but another cold war between China and USA raised its head, as thought Deng Xia Peng. Another type of cold war developed between the West and the rest of the world. Europe and America, though Christians, have their differences. West feels threatened by the non-western countries. Muslims think that Islam is in danger. Above all, the American ego, represented by its president, wants to dominate the rest of the world. In the face of prevailing cold wave flowing between countries, efforts to adjust and mitigate differences are on at different levels.

The Ego of the Super Power
The most disturbing aspect of the relations is the whimsical, arbitrary and imperial behaviour of the United States of America. It will be quite apposite to go into some details.
On 3 July 1988 an American missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner killing 290 civilians. When questioned, George Bush first, the then US President replied, ‘I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are’. They invade countries not in favourable terms with them, for some reason or the other, even defying the presence of UNO or compelling them to accord sanction against their enemies. The list may be longer than Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Libya, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 1963 US President John F Kennedy wished a regime change in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was given all support when he massacred Shias and his other enemies. From before the year 2003 they again desired a regime change and George Bush, the present president of USA, violently attacked Iraq on the plea that they were keeping weapons of Mass Destruction and they were behind the 9/11/2001 attack of their Trade Tower. Britain supported. France did not. They did not recognise US to be the super power. While destroying Iraq US destroyed the remains of thousands of years old Mesopotamian civilisation and placed themselves on a par with Taliban, the vandals. Though European Powers later came forward to their support, respecting the super power position of America, people of India vehemently opposed the sending of Indian troops in Iraq. The occupation of Iraq by the US still continues, though they have managed to establish there a puppet Government of their choice. Arundhati Roy, the writer, concluded her lecture in New York on 13 May 2003 with the words, ‘I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no means a great nation. But you could be a great people. History is giving you chance. Seize the time.’
The whites of USA occupied the old country, driving out the original inhabitants. So, truly, they are by no means a great and ancient nation.
We strongly feel that Israelites/ Jews have right to their place on earth like others and that they should not be hounded by terrorists as India is hounded persistently by them. Terrorism has become global. But it is ironical that Israel, who is creating havoc in Palestine and Lebanon, killing innocent lives and destroying properties to suppress the Hamas and Hizbollah with support from USA, celebrated their own terrorist act, the bombing of King David Hotel, on 22 July 1946 against Britain at a time when British prime minister is busy defending them. While United States supports and encourages the Israeli bombing, it does not support Indian bombing of terrorist hideouts in other countries for their own arbitrary and selfish strategy. Afghanistan is still burning. Both USA’s and Pakistan’s presence there cannot be ignored.

United States is keen to see that no country other than those already equipped with nuclear warhead possesses it. Both U.S. and Russia have stockpiled large number of such weapons. Some Europeans and Asians are also good nuke powers. Countries ambitious to have such weapons are regularly threatened by the US and warned by the UNO.
37 noble laureate scientists representing the Federation of American Scientists, have strongly objected to the Indo-US civilian nuclear technology deal as it will jeoparadise the NPT idea which is 30 years old now. They felt that the NPT should be replaced by a new international frame work. They further opined that America cannot continue to treat nuclear weapons as militarily useful and politically salient while expecting to stop global nuclear proliferation. The American motive is exposed by this. They want to rule the global roast, want forever to dominate others. But they can feel the pulse of others so adjustments are made in specific cases. Now Indian Nuclear Scientists have also appealed to the Indian Parliamentarians to see that Indo-Us agreement does not infringe on our independence, that we should be able to hold on to our nuclear programmes and that nothing short of Universal Nuclear disarmament must be out ultimate aim. They have claimed that India is one of the most advanced countries in the technology of fast breeder reactors.

The founders of the United Nations were determined ‘To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to mankind . . . .’
The first purpose of the UNO is to maintain international peace and security. But in the context of the latest act of aggression by Israel one notes that UNO tackles crimes by the weak but is mute and unresponsive in the face of lawless behaviour of the powerful.
Sri Aurobindo wrote in the P.S. chapter of The Ideal of Human Unity, ‘The League of Nations was in fact an oligarchy of big powers each drawing behind it a retinue of small states and using the general body. . . for furtherance of its own policy much more than for the general interest and the good of the world at large. . . . In the constitution of the U.N.O. an attempt was made, in principle at least, to escape from these errors; but. . . . A strong surviving element of oligarchy remained in the preponderant place assigned to the five great Powers in the Security Council and was clinched by the device of the veto. . . .’ (SABCL. Pondicherry; V-15. p.559)
‘The League of Nations came into being as a direct consequence of the first war, world-wide conflict. If the third war . . . does come, it is likely to precipitate as inevitably a further step and perhaps the final outcome of this great world-endeavour. Nature uses such means, apparently opposed and dangerous to her intended purpose to bring about the fruition of that purpose.’ (ibid. p.557)
So he warned, ‘The leaders of the nations . . . must be on guard against unwise policies or fatal errors; the deficiencies that exist in the organization or its constitution have to be quickly remedied or slowly and continuously eliminated. . . . ‘ (ibid. p.558)
‘National egoism, the pride of domination and the desire of expansion still govern the mind of humanity, however modified that may now be in their methods . . . until the spirit is radically changed, the union of human race by a federation of free nations must remain a noble chimera.’ Sri Aurobindo wrote (ibid. pp.328-329).
His observations still hold good after some 90 years. The earth is burning with fire of war from place to place. The suffering of people inflicted with injury or death is the same even if such wars are not given the World War status.
Confused with the global scenarios the great scientist and intellectual, Stephen Hawking recently posed a question to the Internet, ‘In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain for another 100 years?’
There have come some 25000 answers through Yahoo. Many saw technology as the panacea, as our President often thinks. Others saw hope if we could just get along with others, invoking the combined power of God, Love and Peace.

The Unity on Spiritual Foundation Reviewing his theory in 1950, after about 34-35 years of writing The Ideal of Human Unity, Sri Aurobindo observed that his theory of ultimate union of the world’s people remained unaltered.
We find indeed that the world is moving closer for needs through different associations like UNO and its different bodies, European Union, NATO, SAARC, WTO, Group of Eight and many others. But these, based on needs, through the mode of diplomacy are something like outward unity which Sri Aurobindo called externals of civilisation like unity in dress, manners and habits, details of political, social and economic order. He wished a greater, living unity in the psychological life of humanity. He said that oneness is secretly the foundation of all things. Evolving spirit in Nature is destined to realize it consciously. Through diversity evolution moves from a simple to complex oneness. One day the human race must realize this, he confirmed. But by unity he did not mean uniformity; logically simple and scientifically rigid, beautifully neat mechanical sameness but a living oneness full of healthy variation and freedom.
Cultural affinity, the same origin of country and birth are reasons for natural unity. Living in the same country Ireland and Britain are always at loggerhead but Pakistan, Bangladesh and India have the natural affinity among the people, most of whom originally belong to India. In spite of ban on Indian cinema in Pakistan, the people zealously guard their right to enjoy them even through illegal means. Samuel Baid writes that once Bhutto asked poets Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Josh Malhiabadi to record their views on the culture of Pakistan on Radio Pakistan. While Faiz Ahmed said that the roots of Pakistani culture lay in Delhi and Agra, the other poet said that Jinnah’s two nation theory aborted the process of Ganga-Jamuna (composite) culture that was evolving between the Hindus and Muslims. The records were shelved but made public in 1978 for political purpose. The unity of the subcontinent was a cherished wish of Sri Aurobindo. It is expected to happen in the course of time as happened in Germany and Vietnam or through federation.
‘The ultimate result must be the formation of a World-State and the most desirable form of it would be a federation of free nationalities.’ (ibid. p.571) Sri Aurobindo said and stressed the need of free individuals who would remain at the centre of such nationalities.
The unity would be solid and secured if it is on a spiritual foundation. About the coming of a spiritual age Sri Aurobindo said in his The Human Cycle, ‘There will be a labour of religion to reject its past heavy weight of dead matter and revivify its strength in the foundation of the spirit. . . .
‘If mankind is to be spiritualised, it must first in the mass cease to be the material or the vital man and become the psychic and the free mental being. It may be questioned
whether such a mass progress or conversion is possible; but if it is not, then the spiritualisation of mankind as a whole is a chimera. . . .
‘The spiritual age will be ready to set in when the common mind of man begins to be alive to these truths and to be moved or desire to be moved by the triple or triune spirit.’
(SABCL. Pondicherry; V-15. pp.234-244)

The Conslusion
Though it seems that a world Government on spiritual foundation is a far cry at the moment, we may pause a little and deeply ponder over it. Sri Aurobindo said that the drive toward spirituality would be pioneered by individuals and groups of individuals. We find such individuals and groups, spiritual centres already established, not only in India but across the globe. It may take the world toward fruition of its goal at the appropriate time, the length of which is beyond our anticipation. * * * (c) Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2008 Email: and 10:10 AM

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