Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pursuit of justice can be much enhanced by open and well-aimed public discussion

Amartya Sen's story of justice
Times of India - 26 July 2009 Rashmee Roshan Lall - ‎In an exclusive interview with The Times of India, the Nobel laureate speaks about his most ambitious book yet.

Justice is a complex idea (I was not surprised that it took me 496 pages to discuss it), but it is very important to understand that justice has much to do with everyone being treated fairly. Even though that connection has been well discussed by the leading political philosopher of our time, John Rawls, I have argued that he neglects a couple of important connections. One neglect is the central recognition that a theory of justice has to be deeply concerned with systematic assessment of how to reduce injustice in the world, rather than only with the identification of what a hypothetical "perfectly just society" would look like. There may be no agreement on the shape of perfect justice (and also perfect justice will hardly be achievable even if people did agree about what would be immaculately just), but we can still have reasoned agreement on many removable cases of manifest injustice, for example, slavery, or subjugation of women, or widespread hunger and deprivation, or the lack of schooling of children, or absence of available and affordable health care. Second, analysis of justice has to pay attention to the lives that people are actually able to lead, rather than exclusively concentrating only on the nature of "just institutions". In India, as anywhere else, we have to concentrate on removing injustices that are identifiable and that can be remedied.

Is justice essential for democracy to flourish?

One of the main arguments of the book is the role of open public discussion for our understanding of the demands of justice, and particularly of the removal of injustice. Indeed, democracy can be seen as "government by discussion" (an approach made famous by John Stuart Mill), and the pursuit of justice can be much enhanced by good democratic practice - not just well-fought elections but also open and well-aimed public discussion, with a free and vigorous media. In an earlier book, I discussed a remark of a very poor and nearly illiterate peasant, who lived in a village close to Santiniketan (where I come from). "It is not difficult to silence us," he said, "but this is not because we cannot speak." In that quiet confidence there are reasons of hope for the future of justice and democracy in India.

Seek justice, only if you deserve it Wendy Doniger Times of India - 26 July 2009

As Amartya Sen discusses the idea of justice in his new book, it's interesting to note that justice, like just about everything else in ancient India, has been a much debated topic since time immemorial (a point that Amartya Sen made very well in an earlier book, The Argumentative Indian). Dharma can often best be translated as 'justice,' though dharma also means law, rightness (as opposed to wrongness), religious ethics, and simply the way things ought to be or even the way things truly are. The authors of the many texts about dharma always cited, with respect, the opinions of several other authors on any particular topic, before putting forth their own views as the best.

The great epic, the Mahabharata, which is often called a dharma-shastra, constantly contests dharma. Time and again when a character finds that every available moral choice is the wrong one choice, or when one of the heroes does something wrong, he will mutter, or be told, "Dharma is subtle (sukshma)," that is, thin and slippery as a fine silk sari, elusive as a will o' the wisp, internally inconsistent as well as disguised, hidden, masked. People try again and again to do the right thing, and fail and fail, until they no longer know what the right thing is. As one of the early dharma texts put it, "Right and wrong (dharma and adharma) do not go about saying, 'Here we are'; nor do gods or ancestors say, 'This is right, that is wrong'." The Mahabharata deconstructs dharma, exposing the inevitable chaos of the moral life. [...]

This is a brilliant story about the subtlety of justice, the need for it to be constantly challenged, re-examined and re-understood in every age. The writer teaches Sanskrit and the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and has published translations of the Rig Veda and the Laws of Manu. Her latest book, 'The Hindus: An Alternative History', was published earlier this year

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kittu Reddy’s book A Vision of United India is a must-read

A Vision of United India: A Review
By Anurag Banerjee

On 15 August 1947 Sri Aurobindo had given a message to commemorate the independence of India in which he had spoken of his five dreams. What follows is a significant passage from his message:
“But the old communal division into Hindus and Muslims seems now to have hardened into a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled for ever or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Let us hope that that may come about naturally, by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose. In this way unity may finally come about under whatever form—the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance. But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India’s future.”

In his message Sri Aurobindo had spoken of his grand vision—the vision of a unified India which means India and Pakistan would exist as one single nation. This vision is echoed in Prof. Kittu Reddy’s book A Vision of United India: Problems and Solutions. Prof. Reddy is an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram since 1941. An intellectual par excellence and scholar of the highest rank, he combines in himself the qualities of a teacher and a motivator. He has been associated with the Indian Army since 1987 and has conducted workshops dealing with motivation, leadership and Indian nation with them. Those who know him closely would never fail to notice that he is one of those rare beings who have combined the paths of Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga which has, in turn, led to his progress as a sadhak of the Integral Yoga. Therefore when he writes, words that flow down from his pen finds its source in the higher levels of consciousness which explains the root of his profound insight.
A Vision of United India is divided into two sections: Problems and Solutions. In the first part of the first section, Prof. Reddy has discussed the political history of ancient and medieval India and also evaluated the success and failure to establish a sound political unity in the country. He has spoken of the cultural and spiritual unity that prevailed in ancient India but rightly remarks that those could never be ‘a sufficient basis for a vigorous national life’; in order to achieve so, a political unification was required. However this unification was never achieved. According to his observation: ‘But each time an attempt to find such a solution was made, a solution that might securely have evolved and found its true means and form and basis, it did not last. The difficulties were great, the conditions were not ripe, and there was instead at attempt to establish a single administrative empire.’ (p. 18) And he remarks: ‘One might even say that the guardians of India’s destiny wisely compelled it to fail so that her inner spirit might not perish and her soul barter for an engine of temporary security, the deep sources of its life.’ (Ibid.) He goes on to explain the advent of the Sultanates and Islamic thought discussing the traits of the Muslim Rule followed by a brief history of Islam and the fundamental concepts of Hinduism accompanied by its tenets and consequences. After discussing the consequences of Islamic invasion of India he gives an overview of India under the British Rule till 1947.

The second half of the first section comprises of a significant and meticulous discussion and evaluation of the political scenario of India from the post-partition era to the present age where the author speaks of the Kashmir problem and the other troubles India had to face from Pakistan. A detailed discussion of the Bangladesh War is followed by a write-up on the Military Rule in Pakistan which contains an informative analysis of the working of the dictators who ruled Pakistan as Presidents. In the chapter The Present Situation of Pakistan, the author makes a serious observation (p. 201): ‘A sinking Pakistan will insist on sinking India too.’ And he explains that this might happen since ‘proxy-war’ is a very cost-effective strategy for Pakistan as it consumes a small portion of its defence expenditure whereas it inflicts an excessively high cost on India. However, he says that in this process Pakistan would ultimately disintegrate from within.
The second section of the book (Solutions) puts forward the reasons leading to the prospective eradication of the division between India and Pakistan which is based on Prof. Reddy’s detailed study of Political Science under the light of Sri Aurobindo. After analyzing the obstructions to unite India and Pakistan, he has focused on the points that may help in establishing the unity between the two countries. He cites the instances of the unification of Germany and Vietnam and adds that the unification of India and Pakistan can be an attainable reality. This section is particularly important as it include thought-provoking chapters like Factors Leading to Unity in the Subcontinent and The Hindu-Muslim Unity where he speaks of the various measures that should be adopted by the Government of India to materialize the unification of India and Pakistan. He suggests that the partition should not be accepted as final by the Indian Government and a policy decision needs to be taken for the annulment of the partition. He states the following steps (p. 263):
· ‘Increase people to people contact in a big way in every field of activity…
· Increase economic cooperation between the two governments if possible and between the people of the two nations even if the Government of Pakistan does not cooperate…
· Take the strongest steps to curb terrorism in any form; give the Army a free hand in their operations against the terrorists. Ensure that political interference is completely stopped.
· Take steps to create a climate of understanding and goodwill between all the religions within India itself. This is an important factor and needs to be pursued vigorously.’

At the same time he proposes certain steps to be taken towards Pakistan which are as follows:
· Weakening the military of Pakistan by supporting democracy in the country. Prof. Reddy adds that one can envisage the unification of the armies of the two nations at a later stage.
· Developing and nurturing the constituencies in Pakistan whose livelihood and prosperity depends on good relations with India for the purpose of developing trade relations.
· Enable the secular minded people of Pakistan to come closer to India thus enabling the exchange of educational and cultural activities.
· Strengthening India’s relation with the United States, Russia and China as Islamic fundamentalism can be a threat to the stability of their society as well.

To bring about the much-desired unity among the Hindus and the Muslims, Prof. Reddy suggests that the cultural leaders of both Hinduism and Islam will have to bring forward ‘the deeper Indian ethos’ that is ‘intrinsically tolerant of all religions.’ In his own words (p. 313): ‘This ethos will give all minorities their civic dues but will not keep pampering them out of fear of losing their votes. And it will insist on a common civil code as indispensable to a genuine secularism, a code for all communities which will override whenever necessary in the interests of the whole country, the code peculiar to each community. That ethos will also do away with the current custom of special reservation of seats in the parliament on a communal or else caste basis. No communities or castes should be recognized. All citizens will be Indians and they will be members of parliament by popular election according to their merit. Equal opportunities will be given to all elements of the nation to progress and share in the guidance of the country.’ Another suggestion Prof. Reddy makes is that it is essential to re-interpret Islam and all other religions ‘in their true historical perspective.’ These steps could prepare the platform for promotion from Religion to Spirituality as it is the only way of overcoming the religious division.
This book is also significant as it includes certain illuminating passages from Sri Aurobindo’s writings where Sri Aurobindo has discussed the various means by which the much-desired Hindu-Muslim unity can be achieved. These passages are particularly important as it reveals how much concerned Sri Aurobindo was to bring about the said unity. In the much-publicized biography of Sri Aurobindo (The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs), Sri Aurobindo has been accused of being responsible for the disunity among Hindus and Muslims and partition of India as well and there are many who believes in this aforesaid nonsense. This masterpiece from the pen of Prof. Reddy would certainly shut the mouths of those who propagate against Sri Aurobindo of being a Hindu fundamentalist.
Prof. Reddy is a visionary who dreams of the unification of India and Pakistan and in this monumental work of his, he has explicitly discussed how the vision could be materialized. This book serves as a guideline which shows us the ways to be taken to eradicate a historical blunder called ‘Partition’ whose decision was taken by a handful of men (who were hailed as leaders) and its consequences were suffered by millions. It also led to the creation of an environment of non-stop tension between the two nations which still prevails in a glorified form. This book is special because it comes from the pen of a spiritual person with an astounding political consciousness. This book is a must-read for all those who love India truly.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The shakti is suppressed under poverty, hunger and ignorance

Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part E
rakesh on Thu 09 Jul 2009 11:56 AM IST Profile Permanent Link
"Therefore to say that he would have revised his opinion about the Partition of India after fifty years is not to enter into the Aurobindonian spirit. The question is not of Partition going which it must; it is the question of mutuality and harmony which is the only mechanism for perfection and progress."

Why should we only think of India and pakistan....I would love to see all the borders broken and all the people live in harmony. I think that was the spirit in which The Ideal of Human Unity was written. Every country has its own swabhawa that the people living within those borders carry with them.

India has not yet heard the message of Sri Aurobindo. We need good leaders who can take us forward to that unique destiny. Every country is important to us because we are not only Indians but also part of the whole world. Let other countries fulfill their destinies and we ours. Only by sacrifice can purity come and not by indulgence. We need to sacrifice to see a better world. Every individual and country matters in this world. India can rise when we can give minimum freedom for our citizens in terms of speech, education and health to individuals.

When we start thinking of our society. One of the poorest in the world live in our country. We see it but we do not do anything. If individual shakti's are not allowed to express themselves how are we going to see the nation shakti awaken? We need to give greater oppurtunity to our poor citizens. The shakti is suppressed under poverty, hunger and ignorance.

Those interested in spirituality are not bothered about the country and is left to the goonda's to rule our country. Is this the message of the Gita?

Unless our politics, economic policies, primary education funding and spending of tax money, leadership does not improve our shakti, our mother shall not awaken. Its been almost 60 years now. Why is India suffering. What is the government doing with our tax money? The problem is that the citizens are not even asking such questions?

We should be ashamed of our poverty and backwardness of our poorest citizens. Reply

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To bar religion from public life is to remove one of the key voices in the harmony of state

Caritas in Veritate and Promoting Authentic Human Development
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

Having just spent some time reading Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit and parts of his Phenomenology of Spirit, I found it the Pope’s point about the need “to operate in a climate of freedom” to be in great continuity with Hegel’s thought. For example, in the section on “Objective Spirit” in Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit, he explores the concrete institutional structures that promote human flourishing. According to Hegel, political institutions-those which over time have developed various traditions and customs-are the conditions required for the possibility of human advancement and flourishing. Though I in no way agree with Hegel’s narrative regarding the details of the master/slave dialectic, he does claim that this dialectic must be overcome through recognition of our mutual rationality and freedom-that is, the other must be recognized not as my tool but as an “I” who has the ability to step back from the causal matrix and act as a free being.

The first triad under Objective Spirit is the movement from abstract right (thesis), to morality (Moralität, antithesis), to social ethics (Sittlichkeit, the synthesis of the previous two). Abstract right deals with law articulating various rights and duties of the citizens. Morality focuses on the individual conscience and what s/he takes as morally binding on her/himself. When we get to social ethics, however, we have moved beyond mere private conscience (though private conscience has not be eradicated) to a higher synthesis of private morality and social living in the customary life of a concrete state. Here the triad moves from the immediacy of the family to civil society to the state.

The structures of a civil society are based on contract and private interests where the most basic unit in the atomistic individual. Yet, Hegel also emphasizes that a civil society should allow for voluntary entry associations such as churches, fine art societies and the like. The state, of course, represents the synthesis of this triad, and it is here that we find not only the government of the people but the lifeblood of the people as well. Here the individual finds greater meaning within the larger whole, while, according to Hegel, still remaining an individual. Interestingly, Hegel stresses that the state’s constitution is not to be externally imposed on a people, but rather must arise from within the state’s own history and tradition. That is, it must express the state’s innermost being-its Spirit/Geist.

Consequently, for Hegel, religion plays a huge role in the development of the state, as religion is tied to the ultimate and deeply felt concerns of human beings. This is not to suggest that a state’s constitution ought to quote bible verses in its legislation; rather, the idea is that the intelligible principles and moral insights of religion have an essential role to play in public life and to bar religion (in that sense) from public life is to remove one of the key voices in the harmony of state. (Charles Taylor seems to articulate something along these lines).

Hegel also notes that the history of states has gone through many developments. In some expressions, freedom was experienced by few; however, in the modern state, the possibility of freedom for all has been unleashed. In no way am I suggesting that what Hegel says is identical in all its details with what Benedict XVI articulates in his encyclical. However, there are some interesting overlaps here to be explored [...]

In short, both Hegel and Benedict emphasize the importance of human freedom, the formative role of concrete institutions and tradition, and the need to appeal to common, shared truths available to all apart from revelation (which is not to say that Christians in the public square, for example, ought not to allow revelation to inform their views. Indeed they should and must. It’s the how that various Christians disagree over).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sri Aurobindo’s Nationalism progresses beyond internationalism to a spiritual universalism

The Integral Vision of the Mother
Sri Aurobindo for the New Age

The Institute of Integral Yoga Psychology, Mirravision Trust has offered to hold a series of workshops with the captioned title. Under its auspices the first National workshop will be held to commemorate the historical centenary events connected with the Bengal Phase (Banga Parva) of Sri Aurobindo’s Active Political Life viz. the Alipore Bomb Trial (1908-1909), his release from the jail (May 6, 1909) and his famous Uttarpara Speech (May 30, 1909). The present workshop has been entitled as follows: Sri Aurobindo’s Political Life, the Alipore Bomb Trial and his Uttarpara Speech – A Centennial Perspective
THE VENUE: National Library Auditorium, Alipore, Kolkata,
DATES: August 1 & 2, 2009; 10 AM – 5 PM (on both dates).

This workshop is important for several reasons:

  • Sri Aurobindo was the first person to publicly articulate the demand for complete independence.
  • Sri Aurobindo’s intense and compact political life in the first decade of the 20th century was primarily aimed to construct the idea of India as a Nation as a settled fact in the psyche of the race. This built up the foundation of Nationalism which was later used by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in their own innovative ways.
  • Sri Aurobindo’s concept of Nationalism denotes a dynamic movement that progresses beyond internationalism to a spiritual universalism. He was a seer – a mystic par excellence but has the pragmatism that both socio-economic and spiritual freedoms in political servitude were sheer impossibilities.
  • A centennial reappraisal of his thought is not a mere homage as it has actually taken a century for his ideas, too futuristic at inception, to get consolidated in the general consciousness of the global mind-set. The élan vital of that nationalistic time-spirit has the potentiality to widen, deepen and elevate our vision of a new world-order where India plays the role of the soul-rejuvenator of the globe.

The workshop will be conducted from 10 am to 5 pm on August 1 and 2, 2009. The salient themes of discussion following Sri Aurobindo’s Political discourse will include:
1. An overview of Sri Aurobindo’s Nationalistic politics during 1893 to 1910 – with an introduction to the multi-faceted genius of Sri Aurobindo such as Statesman, Political Columnist, National Leader, Educationist, Poet, Philosopher and Yogi.
2. Proletariat, Bourgeois, Emergent polity in Indian context.
3. Economic considerations – His support to Drain Theory, Famine Reporting, Coinage of the term ‘Swaraj’ and its link up with ‘Swadeshi’.
4. The village as self-reliant yet non-isolated unit, Panchayat Raj, Swadeshi Industries.
5. The building up of the Nation and its notional difference with the State idea, the ideation of Composite Nationalism – formulation of the explicit demand for Complete Independence of India and pleading for Socialistic Democracy –a true initiative of complete decolonization.
6. Sri Aurobindo’s political agenda of passive resistance and active resistance elucidating these strategies with their materialization through the realistic steps of Swadeshi (Nationalism), Swaraj (Self-rule), National Education, Arbitration, Constitutional form of Agitation, Demands for the ‘Rights of Association’ etc. in the light of ‘selective assimilation’ of the ideals of the nationalism emerging in Ireland and Japan such as Parnellism and Samurai culture under the dominant discourse of the doctrine of Political Vedantism.
7. Reappraisal of Morley-Minto Reforms and its later implications.
8. Sri Aurobindo’s conceptualization of the idea of an open armed revolt along with the exploration of its underlying ideological similarities and differences with the militant political movements of Europe such as Sinn Fein, Bakunin etc. – the application of the theory of Just war of Bhagavad Gita and its ethical imports.
9. The Alipore Bomb Trial – Facts, C.R. Das’s arguments, Beachcroft’s judgment and significance.
10. Revelations of Prison experiences for the future of India by Sri Aurobindo.
11. Sri Aurobindo’s creative writings viz. Poetry, Drama and Art during his political life as contribution to Indian Renaissance.
12. National Education and its pedagogies.
13. Concept of Sanatan Dharma – its import as Perennial Philosophy and significance of Sri Aurobindo’s famous Uttarpara Speech.
14. Nationalism to Internationalism, en route to Spiritual Universalism – Reason for leaving Active Politics and a glimpse of Sri Aurobindo’s Socio-Political Agenda for the New Age.

The themes will be presented for discussion and interaction by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts representing the various social sciences (viz. law, political science, economics, journalism, history, psychology, education and anthropology), philosophy, physical and biological sciences, politics and spirituality.
Mirravision Trust is a non-profit, public charitable trust formed to study, design and apply the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the field of social sciences and allied disciplines and deliverance of its benefits to the humanity at large. One of its projects is The Institute of Integral Yoga Psychology ( Mirravision Trust is registered at Pondicherry and has its offices at Pondicherry and Kolkata.

CONVENER: Dr. Soumitra Basu, Secretary Mirravision Trust 09433060156 (M). From: DIBYENDU MUKHERJEE 8:25 AM

Friday, July 3, 2009

India will still have a part to play in helping to bring about the unity of the nations

Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Disciples > Rishabhchand > Sri Aurobindo His Life Unique > Sri Aurobindo At Pondicherry

After the Congress of 1914 Sri Aurobindo gave an interview to a correspondent of the Madras paper, Hindu. We quote the following as it appeared in the Hindu:

"But what do you think of the 1914 Congress and Conferences?" I insisted.

'He spoke almost with reluctance but in clear and firm accents. He said:

"I do not find the proceedings of the Christmas Conferences very interesting and inspiring. They seem to me to be mere repetitions of the petty and lifeless formulas of the Past and hardly show any sense of the great breath of the

Page - 407

future that is blowing upon us. I make an exception of the speech of the Congress President which struck me as far above the ordinary level. Some people, apparently, found it visionary and unpractical. It seems to me to be the one practical and vital thing that has been said in India for some time past."

'He continued: "The old, petty forms and little narrow, make-believe activities are getting out of date. The world is changing rapidly around us and preparing for more colossal changes in the future. We must rise to the greatness of thought and action which it will demand upon the nations who hope to live. No, it is not in any of the old formal activities, but deeper down that I find signs of progress and hope. The last few years have been a period of silence and compression in which the awakened Virya and Tejas of the nation have been concentrating for a greater outburst of a better directed energy in the future."

"We are a nation of three hundred millions," added Mr. Ghosh, "inhabiting a great country in which many civilisations have met, full of rich material and unused capacities. We must cease to think and act like the inhabitants of an obscure and petty village."

'I asked: "If you don't like our political methods, what would you advise us to do for the realisation of our destiny?"

'He quickly replied: "Only by a general intellectual and spiritual awakening can this nation fulfil its destiny. Our limited information, our second-hand intellectual activities, our bounded interests, our narrow life of little family aims and small money-getting have prevented us from entering into the broad life of the world. Fortunately, there are ever- increasing signs of a widened outlook, a richer intellectual output and numerous sparks of liberal genius which show that the necessary change is coming. No nation in modern times can grow great by politics alone. A rich and varied life, energetic in all its parts, is the condition of a sound, vigorous national existence. From this point of view also the last five years have been a great benefit to the country."

Page - 408

'I then asked what he thought of the vastly improved relations that now exist between the Briton and the Indian in our own country and elsewhere.

"It is a very good thing," he said, and he explained himself in the following manner: "The realisation of our nationhood separate from the rest of humanity was the governing idea of our activities from 1905 to 1910. That movement has served its purpose. It has laid a good foundation for the future. Whatever excesses and errors of speech and action were then disclosed came because our energy, though admirably inspired, lacked practical experience and knowledge.

"The idea of Indian nationhood is now not only rooted in the public mind, as all recent utterances go to show, but accepted in Europe and acknowledged by the Government and the governing race. The new idea that should now lead us is the realisation of our nationhood not separate from, but in the future scheme of humanity. When it has realised its own national life and unity, India will still have a part to play in helping to bring about the unity of the nations."

'I naturally put in a remark about the Under-Secretary's "Angle of Vision".

"It is well indeed," observed Mr. Ghosh, "that British statesmen should be thinking of India's proper place in the Councils of the Empire, and it is obviously a thought which, if put into effect, must automatically alter the attitude of even the greatest extremist towards the Government and change for the better all existing political relations.

"But it is equally necessary that we Indians should begin to think seriously what part Indian thought, Indian intellect, Indian nationhood, Indian spirituality, Indian culture have to fulfil in the general life of humanity. The humanity is bound to grow increasingly on. We must necessarily be in it and of it. Not a spirit of aloofness or a jealous self-defence, but of a generous emulation and brotherhood with all men and all nations, justified by a sense of conscious strength, a great destiny, a large place in the human future - this should be the Indian spirit."

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'The oneness of humanity is a topic dear to the heart of Babu Arabinda Ghosh and when I suggested to him that Vedantic ideas would be a good basis for unity, his reply was full of enthusiasm:

"Oh, yes," he said, "I am convinced and have long been convinced that a spiritual awakening, a re-awakening to the true self of a nation is the most important condition of our national greatness. The supreme Indian idea of the oneness of all men in God and its realisation inwardly and outwardly, increasingly even in social relations and the structure of society is destined, I believe, to govern the progress of the human race. India, if it chooses, can guide the world."

'And here I said something about our "four thousand" castes, our differences in dress and in "caste-marks", our vulgar sectarian antipathies and so on.

"Not so hard, if you please," said Mr. Ghosh with a smile. "I quite agree with you that our social fabric will have to be considerably altered before long. We shall have, of course, to enlarge our family and social life, not in the petty spirit of present-day Social Reform, hammering at small details and belittling our immediate past, but with a larger idea and more generous impulses. Our past with all its faults and defects should be sacred to us. But the claims of our future with its immediate possibilities should be still more sacred."

'His concluding words were spoken in a very solemn mood:

"It is more important," he said, "that the thought of India should come out of the philosophical school and renew its contact with life, and the spiritual life of India issue out of the cave and the temple and, adapting itself to new forms, lay its hand upon the world. I believe also that humanity is about to enlarge its scope by new knowledge, new powers and capacities, which will create as great a revolution in human life as the physical science of the nineteenth century. Here, too, India holds in her past, a little rusted and put out of use, the key of humanity's future.

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"It is in these directions that I have been for some time impelled to turn my energies rather than to the petty political activities which are alone open to us at the present moment. This is the reason of my continued retirement and detachment from action. I believe in the necessity at such times and for such great objects of Tapasya in silence for self-training, for self-knowledge and storage of spiritual force. Our fore- fathers used that means, though in different forms. And it is the best means for becoming an efficient worker in the great days of the world."

We have to live in the present and not in the past

Re: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part C
by rakesh on Tue 30 Jun 2009 09:16 PM IST Profile Permanent Link mirror of tomorrow
"Today we dismiss those words as time-barred, forgetting that he had put his yogic force in them in the context of what he saw as falsehood and fraud. By forgetting them, we are entrenching ourselves more and more into falsehood and fraud. We are strengthening falsehood and fraud more and more. Has the power which Sri Aurobindo put in his words waned and disappeared? Or is it that we are putting more and more obstacles in its working? It seems there is no end to our stupidity."

We do not know what Sri Aurobindo would have said about the state of current affairs since the possibilities have changed. There seems to be a lot of evidence in his writings that he changed his views depending on the world circumstances and possibilities. We have to live in the present and not in the past. We have to learn to judge for ourselves the present circumstances and take action or have a participatory discussions with people to come to the right decision.
You are right when you say that government is not supposed to do everything. We as citizens have to participate in building better democratic institutions in the field of education, art and culture, health. People are not free do act. They are still deprived of basic necessities like education, food and health. How can we expect them to act wisely and build the nation when we have not even given them basic necessities. Am I straying away from spirituality? NO, absolutely not.
People who are fortunate to have a better education, wealth and culture should work for the betterment of the underprivileged society. We Indians have multiple excuses not to help the society. The most popular unfortunately is spirituality. Reply
by rakesh on Wed 01 Jul 2009 05:40 AM IST Profile Permanent Link
My point is that although knowledge of the past in important for future action, the present circumstances matter the most. We cannot extrapolate the past to the present and say that somebody would have done the same thing now. That would be mental speculation on our part.
There are several instances where Sri Aurobindo talked about possibilities of action on current circumstances in Nirod's talks with Sri Aurobindo during the second world war... Sri Aurobindo has written a lot about Indian state of social life and how it degraded due to other worldly spirituality whose impact still shows in our callousness about society. Reply

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Contrast Gandhi’s rejection of the use of force with Sri Aurobindo

Deconstructing Gandhian Satyagraha
Radha Rajan
01 Jul 2009

The permanent removal of the offender of dharma by use of force is effected with the precision of a surgeon wielding a scalpel: dispassionately, precisely, and as a necessary measure... Gandhi in his treatise on Satyagraha ignored the compelling arguments for use of force and advocated Christian non-violence and love, on the basis of a flawed reading of the Bible and a faulty understanding of its central character, Jesus Christ. Contrast Gandhi’s un-Hindu rejection of the use of force with Aurobindo:

Justice and righteousness are the atmosphere of political morality; but the justice and righteousness of a fighter, not of the priest. Aggression is unjust only when unprovoked; violence, unrighteous when used wantonly for unrighteous ends. It is a barren philosophy which applies a mechanical rule to all actions, or takes a word and tries to fit all human life into it.

The sword of the warrior is as necessary to the fulfillment of justice and righteousness as the holiness of the saint. Ramdas is not complete without Shivaji. To maintain justice and prevent the strong from despoiling, and the weak from being oppressed, is the function for which the kshatriya is created. ‘Therefore’, says Srikrishna in the Mahabharata, ‘God created battle and armour, the sword, the bow and the dagger’ [6]

Aurobindo’s advocacy of force and articulation of kshatriya dharma is in line with Hindu tradition of statecraft as exemplified by Kautilya’s Arthasastra. Gandhi’s absolutism on non-violence contrasts sharply with Kautilya’s exhortations on the use of force, and it is pertinent that notwithstanding the motivated propaganda about Kautilya’s ‘evil genius’, the Arthasastra is addressed to the dharmic king. Nor was Kautilya unique in prescribing the use of force or State power; he cited earlier opinions while explaining his own views:
Excerpted from
Eclipse of the Hindu Nation: Gandhi and his freedom struggle
Radha Rajan
New Age Publishers (P) Ltd., Delhi, 2009 Price: Rs 495/- ISBN 81- 7819 - 068- 0
The book may be ordered from the publishers at
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