Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quitting quietism, illusionism, asceticism, and monasticism

Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx: integral sociology and dialectical ... - Page 105 - Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya - 1988 - Preview On the contrary, the excessive security of the outer life at the collective level often brings about a cultural decadence in the inner life of the individual. Russell remarks: ' Security is merely a refuge from fear; opportunity is the source of hope.
The Political Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo - Page 90 - V. P. Varma - 1990 - Preview - More editions Aurobindo does not accept the theory that India has borrowed from Greek art in the post-Christian era, and is severely critical ... Havell and Coomaraswamy refer to the decadence of the Gandhara art but V.A. Smith, A History of Fine Art in India ...
The Lives of Sri Aurobindo - Page 361 - Peter Heehs - 2008 - Preview - But “one of the marked aspects of Sri Aurobindo's teaching and practice have been precisely his insistence to put aside the inert and life-shunning quietism, illusionism, asceticism and monasticism of a latter-day and decadent India.” What he ...
Derrida and Indian Philosophy - Page 115 - Harold G. Coward - 1990 - Preview - More editions 49 Aurobindo speculates that the fixed relation found in Vedic language between the different notions and the cherished ... of the past may prove unable to respond to the enlarged breadth of vision demanded and may fall into decadence.
The Golden Treasury Of Indo-Anglian Poetry (1828-1965) - Page 37 - Vinayak Krishna Gokak - 2006 - Preview - More editions A study of Sri Aurobindo's poetry from this point of view is highly rewarding. Like Browning, he presses into service vocabulary of many diverse kinds. He does not confine himself to 'poetic' words like Swinburne and the Decadent poets.
Papers On Indian Writing In English : Poetry - Page 54 - A.N. Dwivedi - 2001 - Preview - More editions In short, he belongs to the future.6 It is interesting to note that there is a marked difference between Sri Aurobindo's early poetry and the poetry of the Savitri period. The early poetry has been written under the influence of the Decadent poets.
Tagores Chitra And Aurobindos SavitriA Comparative Study - Page 29 - Ketki N. Pandya - 2004 - Preview Aurobindo, had a career that extended to six decades till his death in 1950. His activities related to ... Aurobindo had swiftly outgrown the romantic and decadent influence of Keats, Shelley and Swinburne, and this departure from influenced ...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Combating the built-in drag away from goodness

Central to Aristotle’s ethics is his concept of living well (eudaimonia), which he describes as living in accordance with the virtues. He places friendship as one of the virtues necessary for living well, an essential ingredient for attaining the virtuous life. Aristotle says, “A discussion of friendship would naturally follow, since it is a virtue or implies virtue, and is besides most necessary with a view of living”. “For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods” (1155a). In fact, Aristotle sees friendship as an essential aspect of a life of happiness and morality, “the friendship of good men is good, being augmented by their companionship; and they are thought to become better by their activities and by improving each other; for from each other they take the mold of the characteristics they approve” (1172a). Friendship seems to have an especially close connection with moral virtue, standing as a crucial link in a chain that the treatment of the separate virtues has not yet completed. In the lives of virtuous agents, friendship is far more involved and significant than just good will, actually aiding their progression towards fulfilling their ultimate end goal, which for Aristotle is human flourishing. Aristotle is committed to the unity of virtue and happiness and rejects the commonly held notion that what is really good for us is not what is most pleasant, and that what is right or noble is often neither good nor pleasant. Aristotle argues, to the contrary, that the activity of virtue is the very substance of human happiness and this unity for Aristotle seems best achieved within the context of serious friendship.
Aristotle also bases his political theory on friendship. Amity among people in the society is requisite for the proper function of the social order, which for him, of course, was the Athenian polis… Egoism and selfishness in the Aristotelian sense seems rather to be only discernible when one carefully dissects man’s activities and relationships, recognizing that his ultimate goal is his own enlightenment, virtuousness, and eudaimonia. The actual behaviors and the day-to-day living of such a man would not be observable as selfishly motivated nor egoistic. For Aristotle, self-love and selfishness motivate us only in so far as the achievement of virtuousness and nobility result in our own self-fulfillment and happiness or eudaimonia. Rand’s egoism is overriding, demanding, and in-your-face. It is all about self-interest, self-preservation, and self-promotion. That she is also able to view the ultimate human goal as fulfillment of self does not justify drawing any significant similarity with Aristotle. These are two very different views of the self , its motivation, and its relationship to others. I see little or no justification for Rand’s claim to Aristotelianism as the root of her rational egoism or of her objectivism.

Why I choose Team Anna - YOGENDRA YADAV : Indian Express, Tue Aug 07, 2012
I wanted to tell her about my political guru, Kishen Pattnayak. For a full-time politician and former member of Lok Sabha, he was unbelievably self-effacing; you felt embarrassed talking about him in his presence. He did not draw any attention to himself; the media paid virtually no attention to him. He was as close to a fusion of morality and politics as I have seen in my life. He did not compromise on his principles, but he kept losing colleagues and followers to mainstream parties. He was the opposite of mediocrity: I think of him as one of the original minds of our time. His own followers did not quite understand him and the academia did not glance at someone who did not write in English. He was not frustrated or dejected. But the kind of alternative politics he spent his life building never ever took off.
I know what I do not wish to say to her. I am not saying that politics is not for the intelligent or the thin-skinned. I am not saying that palitiks mein sab chalta hai. I guess I wish to draw her attention to a deeper paradox of modern politics: politics opens at once the possibility of ethics in public life and also becomes the source of its routine negation. In our times, the pursuit of goodness draws you to politics, at the same time immersion in politics has a built-in drag away from goodness. For those who keep their eyes, ears and soul open, political choices are always very delicate, very complex, very painful. The writer is senior fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Kishen Pattnayak's death did not make headlines. Only one news channel ran this story on September 27, the day he died… Clearly, our media that loves to hate politics had no space for the one politician who did not fit the stereotypes of a politician. Yet this is one politician who needs to be remembered and what better day than Gandhi Jayanti to look again at the politics of someone like Kishen Pattnayak. 

Kishen Pattnayak's concept of politics was the comprehensive pursuit of social transformation. He was a radical who centred his activities on social movements, while simultaneously participating in electoral politics through the instrumentality of a political party. In both, the stress was on principles and ideology, whatever the length of time and sacrifice it might involve. He pursued peaceful struggles for social change and had debates with the Naxalites on this issue.

Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty Two outstanding thinkers-cum-workers Odisha has produced: Kishen Pattnayak (1930-2004) and Chittaranjan Das (1923-2011). 2:28 PM  
1m - Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty Combating the "built-in drag away from goodness" is the Vedic imperative, precisely for which Savitri Era roots for FIVE DREAMS Manifesto.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Those born to rule

The Myth of the Muslim Vote Bank from Kafila by Sohail Hashmi
The assumption that Muslims are more religiously inclined is based on selective observation, Muslims congregate for prayers every Friday at a specific time and so their religiosity becomes more visible… The idea that the lives of Muslims are governed more by religion than is the case with other communities is also based on selective readings of the life of Muslims… And yet this stereotyping continues. And now about Muslims being a Monolithic block?
Muslims  have been divided between Shias and Sunnis for centuries…To the sectarian divisions among the Muslims you can add the peculiarities created through the interaction of Indian traditions and Islam and you have Muslims who think of themselves as the Ashraf- those born to rule and according to whom the non Asraf are the Arzal – those who are not fit to rule. The Ashraf would be the Sheikhs, the Syeds and the Pathans and everybody else will fall in the category of the Arzal… to these you must also add the modern day differences between the Land-Lord and the Poor-Peasant or landless labour, between the industrialist and the factory worker and all other economic distinctions and classes that exist among the general population, it may come as a surprise but it is a fact that there are Muslim scavengers, who face as much discrimination as do the Dalits… So what do we have now, we have Muslims divided in a large number of sects, Muslims divided among high and low, Muslims divided among contending classes and there isn’t one religious leader whose pronouncements have universal acceptance. Is there then any possibility of Muslims still behaving like a Vote Bank? […]
The very Idea that Muslims in India, almost 13% of the population, close to 160 million individuals, more than half of whom, 80 million people, are voters, with all their sectional, professional, cultural, economic, social, linguistic diversities and differences, at times rather antagonistic differences, can be herded like sheep and be guided, persuaded, pressurised to vote for a party or a set of parties or candidates is so stupendously devoid of commonsense that it is breathtaking in its stupidity. […]
The idea that 13.4 % of this country has stopped thinking is an idea that betrays a fascist bent of mind. Such an idea has its foundation in the assumption that Muslims are different from other human beings, that they are genetically designed to not have a brain. The idea that they can be led by their leaders and religious leaders at that in such, this worldly, secular, matters and made to do  things that  saner elements – read non Muslims- can’t be made to do is an idea that is born out of the tendency towards stereotyping, branding and profiling an entire segment of population? […]
After the demolition of Babri Masjid and more specifically after the Gujarat Genocide, the Muslim Voters try to ensure in whatever manner they can, that as far as possible the candidates put up by the BJP should not win. But that is not vote bank politics that is sheer self-defence, what else can they do? […] (A slightly different version of this article has appeared in Think India magazine.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Extracting advantage by speaking good English

Democracy Sans Politics - by Aspirant By Aspirant S. from Critique of The Lives Blatant partiality of all kinds: It may take the form of a bias in favour of
  • those who are in one’s own power-circle,
  • those who are financially well-off,
  • those who have been in some high position outside and come here for their retired life,
  • those of the same language,
  • and those who are aggressive and liable to be a nuisance.
  • Surprising, but true, just being able to speak good English sometimes helps.
People in the powerful ones' own circle always find it easier to get what they want even if it is a luxury, while those outside it may not get even their justified needs fulfilled… Some of the current aspiring busy­-bodies are given more and more power in spite of their unscrupulous activities because they are the utility men for the authorities. Their enthusiasm towards work obviously lies in their seeking to enlarge their power base... 
Perhaps the whole issue of Peter's book has come about to highlight the declining values here which many of us have been gradually getting accustomed to and even beginning to accept slothfully, avoiding the inconvenience and work that it would take to at least express to the Trustees our aspirations for better administrative policies from them. 

‘Where are you from?’ is usually the first question they ask when they are sizing you up. People’s surnames are usually a giveaway but with mine, they don’t know whether I’m from Haryana or Howrah or somewhere else altogether. And so they pry, some of the more earthy ones even ask our caste, and it took me a while to figure out just why.
When I’d tell them I was from Delhi, they didn’t really know what that meant. They thought, and rightly so, that no one can be originally from Delhi, it’s just this dog-eat-dog place where people came for work, out of necessity. For them, the capital city was all about wily bureaucrats, power brokers and fat cats who weren’t to be trusted. And when they looked for people they could really talk to, journalists who could be trusted, who’d present their perspective, it had to be people who knew where they came from — who’d get their private jokes, who’d understand the sentiments of their people. If they weren’t from the same village, they’d at least have to speak the same language.
And that’s when I looked around and saw the various regional packs that were at work in Parliament. You had the Thakur and the Bihar gang, which extends not just to politicians but also to powerful bureaucrats. You have the South Indian journalists, with the Mallu lobby being especially useful, but none of these can come close at this moment to the much-hyped importance of the Bengali brigade.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Salvation for Sri Aurobindo doesn't have a religious meaning

Humanity has tried to improve or perfect itself through the modalities of physical organisation, vital enhancement and mental systems or rules. None of these has the capability of transforming human life or ushering in a divine life on earth. Each of them suffers from limitations that lead to various forms of systemisation or legislating behavior which fail by either a too restrictive regimentation or by an over-emphasis on one aspect or another at the expense of the rest of human development. Many past attempts to define a higher formation of life on earth have failed due to reliance on external methodologies.
  • We have witnessed, just in the last centuries a number of such attempts, such as the Third Reich which attempted through strict regimentation and exercise of vital power to cull out humanity and create a master race.
  • We saw the attempt in the People’s Republic of China to massively re-educate citizens to fit into a pre-determined regimented formulation by restricting individual initiative and creative thought.
  • We have seen in the West an attempt to enhance humanity through “free enterprise” and through the increasing understanding and control of our environment through application of science and technology.
  • And we have seen any number of religions attempt to unify and create harmony through bringing about adherence to a particular belief set, even if it required coercion and rigid fundamentalism to create that adherence.
Clearly none of these approaches has proven itself capable of leading humanity to a true spiritual future based on Oneness while supporting the diversity and multiplicity of approaches that are modeled for us in Nature.
Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy of Social Development - Page 182  - Preview No Miracles: The follower of the integral method of yoga does not believe in miracles. It’s a slow and gradual process, … Sri Aurobindo's Social Philosophy is based on hard facts. Every game has its rules. One who wants to play must follow the rules or ... It may be questioned whether such a mass progress or conversion is possible; but if it is not, ...
“Yoga”, asserts Aurobindo, “is the exchange of an egoistic for a universal or cosmic consciousness lifted towards or informed by the super-cosmic, transcendent ...
According to Aurobindo, the progress of the civilization depended on its advance towards human unity. “The perfect society”, affirmed Aurobindo, “ will be that which most entirely favors the perfection of the individual; the perfection of the individual will be incomplete if it does not help him towards the perfect state of the social aggregate to which he belongs and eventually to that of the largest possible human aggregate, the whole of a united humanity.” Aurobindo saw the perfection of the individual as a widening and a heightening in human and cosmic development. This heightening results in the integration of all levels of life and the achievement of unicity by the mind. As such salvation for Aurobindo does not have a religious meaning. It is a rebirth of Man as a supramental being.
The Indian Imagination: Critical Essays on Indian Writing in English - Google Books Result - K. D. Verma - 2000 - Fiction - 268 pages - Preview But it is the "prophetic mind" of Whitman, asserts Aurobindo, that "consciously and largely foresaw and prepared the paths" to future poetry: He [Whitman] belongs to the largest mind of the nineteenth century by the stress and energy of...
Sri Aurobindo and Whitehead on the nature of God - Satya Prakash Singh - 1972 - 196 pages - "A nothing which is full of all potentialities," asserts Aurobindo, "is the complete opposition of terms and things possible".4 Just as the mathematical zero, which, although apparently standing for nothing, really constitutes the ...
The future of man according to Teilhard de Chardin and Aurobindo Ghose J. Chetany - 1978 - 500 pages - And the purpose of the evolutionary process is the "finding of his own individuality and its perfect disengagement," asserts Aurobindo, "from the lower subsconscient in which the individual is overpowered by the mass-consciousness of ...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Responsibility, integrity, compassion and an urge to drive change

Thinkers such as Donna Haraway with her cyborgs, Andy Clark with his extended mind, and Latour with his alliances of actors, Barad with her agential realism, Bennett with her distributed agency, and Alaimo with her trans-corporeality have significantly complicated our understanding of just what a person is… Indeed, Marx and Engels, in The Communist Manifesto, go so far as to argue that the peasant farmer and the factory worker belong to two entirely different species. Here they sound a lot like Deleuze and Guattari who say that we should distinguish beings by their capacities and that a work horse has more in common with an ox than with a race horse. Larval Subjects: Differends Adam Kotsko said... DECEMBER 20, 2006 10:55 AM
I neither believe that secularism leads ineluctably to violence nor that religion is likely to stop "secular" violence. I find the worries about "religious violence" to be overblown and one-sided -- why would I just flip it upside down? I do not take responsibility for your dichotomies. In such terminology as "doctrinaire atheist" or "knee-jerk secularist," the emphasis is on the adjective.
It seems to fall outside the realm of your conceptual competence to understand that I'm not an apologist for religion. And of course, the swipe about me being "effectively" an apologist for the religious right was absurd.

My contribution to the Agamben symposium from An und für sich by Adam Kotsko The Political Theology blog has published my contribution to their symposium on The Kingdom and the Glory, which discusses Agamben’s method in dialogue with Alberto Toscano’s critical review of the book.
I have tried to show elsewhere that Agamben’s method, drawn from Walter Benjamin, places no importance on the line between the religious and the secular (see my essay in After the Postsecular and the Postmodern). In The Sacrament of Language, for instance, he frequently castigates theorists of religion who too easily demarcate “the religious” as a purely separate sphere, and in The Kingdom and the Glory, he takes a similar line on the “secularization debate.” […]
While I don’t agree with Toscano that Agamben betrays the genealogical method, I do concede that Agamben’s “pervasive Heideggerianism” (128) is problematic in several respects. The difficulty, however, is not so much that the influence of Heidegger leads him to a too-substantial view of the concepts or “signatures” at play in his genealogy, but rather that his Heideggerian sympathies lead him to flatten out the historical field through which they move. Like Heidegger, Agamben seems to view “the West” as an unproblematic historical unity, for which the advent of modernity represents at best a particularly extreme development. He certainly does not appear to regard the Christian era as something notably different from the late classical era, and his account of the history of Christian thought treats the patristic and medieval periods as essentially one undifferentiated field.
Agamben’s fidelity to the genealogical task pushes against this Heideggerian oversimplification, but the Heideggerian influence does artificially limit the number of “pivot points” in his narrative. It is clearly the case that Agamben has more work to do in connecting up his “theological genealogy” with modernity, but in my view he also still has more work to do in fully developing the “theological genealogy,” with greater attention to the twists and turns of the history of Christianity and of Christian thought. I would argue in addition that he needs to cast a wider net in terms of filling out the context within which the notion of “economy” operates in any given era—for instance, “economy” is central to the way the patristic writers understood the salvation that God had brought about in Christ, and so why couldn’t Agamben look at some of their narrative accounts of how that plan was supposed to have been carried out? The very significant difference between patristic and medieval narratives of salvation would have made it clear that no easy continuity can be found between the two era’s notions of “economy” (I carry out a detailed comparison of patristic and medieval accounts of the narrative of salvation in my book Politics of Redemption). Adam Kotsko is Assistant Professor at Shimer College. He is the author, most recently, of Why We Love Sociopaths (Zero Books, 2012). He blogs at An und für sich.

Why I will not make it to Parliament The Asian Age Jun 10, 2012 - Vandana Gopikumar
Life took a different course and I ended up working with some of the most marginalised eople in poor rural and urban pockets — people affected by mental health issues, including the homeless. It’s now been 20 years. I have seen stark poverty, gross inequality, appalling corruption, mind-numbing inertia and shocking apathy as political structures operate in a top-down fashion — a style that certainly does not befit a nation that we describe as the world’s largest democracy.
Aspiration and idealism have given way to cynicism. Here are five reasons why my dream of becoming a parliamentarian will remain just that, a dream.
1. Power is for the rich, the famous and the well-networked: Politics more often than not is an incestuous world where everyone knows everyone else. Outsiders are rarely accorded a warm welcome. If you desire to fit in, you have to conform. The ability to rise above political differences and be human and civil, even friendly, and yet subscribe to different ideologies isn’t the way to stay close to the hot seat of power.
2. Only stereotypes, please: We are a society that likes its leaders — political, spiritual or social — in attires and gatherings that have popular sanction; speaking a language that places them above the rest, in a position to wield power and bestow privileges on those beneath. This creates a distance between the common man and the leader and builds a vertical hierarchy, which is typically feudal in character.
We get what we seek. We seem to be awe-struck by larger-than-life personalities. A common platform that brings together unequals is an aberration. We are enslaved by class and status.
3. Always perfect, always correct: They are confident, make the right noises and always seem to offer solutions to the most complex problems. I, on the contrary, am flawed and have in my insignificant life sometimes been confused, arrogant, misled, foolish and articulated poor logic just as I have been kind, strategic, fair and smart. While I learn from my mistakes and life in general, I will not compromise on the spontaneity of my behaviour, be guarded, and toe a boring, straight line. I should have the freedom to be me and not portray an ideal merely because it is believed that being both profound and a bumbling fool is a paradox, and thus unacceptable.
4. The root of all evil — money: In some panchayats that I work in, it is normal to spend anything from `20-70 lakh on an election. Voters expect gifts as a norm; this is now seen less as a violation of ethical code and more as an entitlement. Any aspirant, not backed by big bucks, will watch his/her dreams of a political career die a natural death.
5. The victim card: This for me is unthinkable. How can I throw my caste/gender/race as a trump card? In my case, of course, my caste wouldn’t “work” for me, though my gender could serve me well. However, I don’t want to exploit it, especially since I was born into a family that desired a girl child. This doesn’t negate the pain of millions of others who live lives of misery and discrimination, owing to their status and gender. I do understand the politics of representation and opportunity. But does suffering, disempowerment and difference alone qualify as a ticket to leadership?
In a country like ours, a leader must show extraordinary commitment, an unparalleled sense of responsibility, integrity, compassion and an urge, ability and talent to drive change. Chasing unidimensional notions of economic progress alone will not do.
Imagine if honesty were an appreciated value; imagine if barriers weren’t created every time idealism spoke or emerged; imagine if the world judged its leaders on the basis of his/her merits; imagine if fervour and passion were encouraged, recognised and cultivated. Imagine a world where you and I capture the imagination of our people and gain entry into an otherwise intimidating circle of power. It is only then that we will be free, equal and alive as a nation and do India justice. We are, after all, a nation of a billion people; it’s time we found our heroes from amongst the common man. The writer is the co-founder of The Banyan, a civil society organisation that works closely with people with mental disabilities
and marginalised groups, particularly the homeless

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sri Aurobindo was influenced by Carlyle, Ruskin, and Arnold

Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx: integral sociology and dialectical ... - Page 163 - Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya - 1988 - 336 pages - Preview The World-Union or the World-State The ambivalence of Sri Aurobindo's political sociology is evident from the fact that while he recognises the inevitability of the centralising tendency leading to a world-state, he consistently ...
Encyclopaedia of Eminent Thinkers: The political thought of Aurobindo - Page 35 - K. S. Bharathi - 1998 - 111 pages - Preview We find emphasis both on the organic concept of the social totality and the spiritual-cosmic character of the individual. The key political concept of Aurobindo's political philosophy is reciprocity and mutuality between the individual ...
Empire, the National, and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920: Resistance ... - Page 82 - Elleke Boehmer - 2005 - 239 pages - Preview Some of Aurobindo's political reference points therefore coincided with those of the twenty-something Margaret Noble, who, during the period that he was in Cambridge, the early 1890s, was teaching in Wimbledon in the company of ...
The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the Human Potential Movement: The ... - Page 31 - Walter Truett Anderson - 2004 - 352 pages - Preview Like that of his contemporary, Gandhi, Aurobindo's political thinking was on a cosmic scale, in which ideas of social change mingled with ideas of spiritual transformation. He was profoundly influenced by India's religious traditions, ...
Life and Times of Netaji Subhas: Yogi Sri Aurobindo's "terrorism", ... - Page xvi - Adwaita P. Ganguly - 2003 - 224 pages - Preview Along with Yogi Sri Aurobindo's 'political philosophy of terrorism' as a technique to fight against British imperialism we have examined the influence of Tagore's universalism, especially manifest in his poem Gitanjali (which made him ...
The Lives of Sri Aurobindo - Page 144 - Peter Heehs - 2008 - 496 pages - Preview 127 This experience of the silent brahman coming at the peak of Aurobindo's political career was the most dramatic turning-point in his life. He had arrived in Baroda as a leader ofa movement that involved the lives and energies of ...
Nationalism, religion, and beyond: writings on politics, society, ... - Aurobindo GhosePeter Heehs - 2005 - 364 pages - This is not to say that Aurobindo's political and social writings have no contemporary value. His overviews of European and Indian history are still of considerable interest, and the lines of future development he extrapolated from his...
Principles Of Education - Page 218 - S.S. ChandraRajendra Kumar Sharma - 2004 - 246 pages - Preview Swadeshi was the avowed principle in Sri Aurobindo's political philosophy. Each nation, according to him, has to grow and develop in tune with its peculiar Swabhav and Swadharma. This principle has been advocated by Indian thinkers ...
Modern Indian political thought - Vishwanath Prasad Varma - 1971 - 640 pages - To a pure materialist, Plato and St. Augustine and Hegel sound reactionary; while to a spiritualist, Machiavelli and Hobbes appear superficial. To a believer in the powers of the spirit, Aurobindo's political philosophy has a great ...
All India Conference on the Relevance of Sri Aurobindo Today, ... - Aurobindo GhoseSri Aurobindo Samiti - 1975 - 106 pages - To turn from Fascism and Nazism to Sri Aurobindo's political ideas is to turn from the cult of intolerance and unfreedom to an intellectually rich theory of sanity, and faith in man. The ideal of human unity is to be achieved through ...
Hinduism in public and private: reform, Hindutva, gender, and ... - Antony R. H. Copley - 2003 - 303 pages - Aurobindo's political and social ideas were strongly influenced by poets of the English Romantic movement, notably Shelley and Wordsworth, by later English critics such as Carlyle, Ruskin, and Arnold, by European political theorists ...
Sayajirao of Baroda, the prince and the man - Fatesinhrao Gaekwad (Maharaja of Baroda) - 1989 - 397 pages - Sayajirao was perfectly aware of Aurobindo's political views and activities and, by all accounts, secretly sympathised with them. He was also aware that, to harbour a well-known extremist in his educational service was, for someone in ...
Political thought in modern India - Thomas PanthamKenneth L. Deutsch - 1986 - 362 pages - 4 The year 1908 became a watershed year in Aurobindo's political career. Bengal in that year was a likely site for the growing Indian spirit of repression and even terror. These clashes became highly dramatized in the Alipore Bomb ...
Glimpses of Vedantism in Sri Aurobindo's political thought - Samar BasuSri Aurobindo Ashram - 1998 - 73 pages - Chapter I Appearance of a Young Politician with Deep Insight "The world needs India and needs her free. The work she has to do now is to organise life in the terms of Vedanta, and that is a work she cannot do while overshadowed by a ...
Sri Aurobindo's integral approach to political thought - Shiva Kumar Mital - 1981 - 268 pages - He also adds an appendix to show how Sri Aurobindo's political philosophy differs from Tilak, and the views of BC Pal and CR Das. ... He also refers to the idealistic and utopian elements in Sri Aurobindo's political thought.
The Political Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo - Page 412 - V. P. Varma - 1990 - 494 pages - Preview (d) Reflections on Aurobindo's Political Idealism For the realization of the sociological, political and economic programmes of the spiritualized society, a consecrated spirit of religious surrender to the divine is necessary.
Aurobindo's philosophy of Brahman - Page 90 - Stephen H. Phillips - 1986 - 200 pages - Preview Aurobindo's political life and nationalism Aurobindo was politically active in many ways including speaking and organizing, but he became famous through his writing. He contributed to the Yugantar, a Bengali weekly first published in ...
Tradition and the Rhetoric of Right: Popular Political Argument in ... - Page 61 - David J. Lorenzo - 1999 - 339 pages - Preview One analyst of Aurobindo's political activities, Jean Sherer, argues that only the modernist aspects of Aurobindo's early career are important. Her thesis is that during the Partition crisis and after, Aurobindo "encountered" the world ...
Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy of Social Development - Page 152 - Preview 29 Gospel of Nationalism Nationalism is the greatest God in Sri Aurobindo's political philosophy though his nationalism extends to internationalism and ultimately to divinity. The gospel of nationalism does not mean that Sri Aurobindo ...
Mother India: monthly review of culture: Volume 58 - Sri Aurobindo Ashram - 2005 - Every day father would try valiantly to make these junior professors understand and see Sri Aurobindo's political vision and wisdom. In the meantime the Japanese began bombing Chittagong and Cox Bazaar. At once Feni turned into a ...
Indian idea of political resistance: Aurobindo, Tilak, Gandhi, and ... - Ashok S. Chousalkar - 1990 - 131 pages - Aurobindo's political theory ] was dominated by three ideological factors (a) in India religion ' and politics were not different, they were one and the same (b) ! India did not want to become carbon copy of west; in fact, ... 
The Essential Aurobindo - Page 36 - Aurobindo GhoseRobert A. McDermott - 2001 - 288 pages - Preview The spiritual method and goal of this revolution, however, included a radical political program which Sri Aurobindo later summarized as follows: There were three sides to Sri Aurobindo's political ideas and activities.
The Indian Scriptures and the Life Divine - Page 6 - Binita Pani - 1993 - 367 pages - Preview Sri Aurobindo's political life was limited to a short period of fifteen years from 1893 to 1908 of which the first ten years were mostly devoted to secret activities and the last five years were only his active period.
Political science review: Volume 2 - University of Rajasthan. Dept. of Political Science - 1963 - A detailed examination of Sri Aurobindo's political thoughts yet remains a desideratum Speaking generally there are two difficulties in appreciating Sri Aurobindo's political ideas. For one thing, to grasp his thoughts properly one ...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dynamic entanglement with the forces of world politics

Our worth lies only in the measure of our effort to exceed ourselves, and to exceed ourselves is to attain the Divine. -The Mother (1973)

One must not forget that both Sri Aurobindo an the Mother were very aware of the social context of yoga. Sri Aurobindo can be considered a social philosopher with the development of conditions propitious to the emergence of consciousness being at the base of his social thought. The same can be said for the Mother in the practical formulation of Auroville. However, as part of the modernist discourse within which they articulated their ideas, the social, cultural and psychological were separated, so that yoga became articulated outside of its social/cultural conditions purely in terms of psychology.
A postmodern discourse has problematized this exclusive differentiation, since particularly in our times when modernity has entered its global chapter, to think psychology in isolation from social and cultural realities is to blind oneself from social/cultural/historical inscription of discourses on human subjectivity and even anatomy (after all the body is a structure of consciousness). We live in a world saturated with economic and political power. In such a world, we may seek to find a “purity” of collective existence by taking shelter in ashrams or Aurovilles where we seem to be absolved of the need for thinking of these things because someone else has provided the sheltered social conditions. Or we may act as if such conditions are irrelevant to yoga by wishing them away in favor of a purity of psychological concern. However, in the present rapidly uniformalizing phase of neo-liberal globalization, the Hegelian end-of-history, there is no “inside” whether social or psychological which is immune from the determination of this fundamentally political regime. I am convinced that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were very conscious of this and that their personal yoga through their acts of personal consciousness, was also a micropolitics. The scope of this micropolitics, in their case, was in fact hardly micro and is better seen as a macropolitics. Nevertheless, what I am saying is that there is a different way of perceiving the yoga, which does not isolate it from its dynamic entanglement with the forces of world politics and thus enables its action not only as a psychological “progress of consciousness” but as a being-in-the-world in the micropolitical sense. This is one way to understand the statement of Sri Aurobindo, “All Life is Yoga.”
One sees a good example of this active today in the increasingly overt politicization of the ashram. I see this as the inability to see yoga simultaneously as social/cultural/psychological. The continuing denial of their intimate braiding has lead on the one hand to a rupture of the yoga in its alignment with extreme right wing politics and on the other to the willed refusal of the ostrich.

Comment on Introduction to The Seven Quartets of Becoming by debbanerji from Comments for Posthuman Destinies by debbanerji … “an eternal perfection is moulding us in its image.”
What is the yoga of self-perfection but an ethics (will-to-right) and aesthetics (will-to-beauty) of self-fashioning? As one aspect of the Record, Sri Aurobindo was literally engaged in aesthetic self-fashioning since a siddhi of the sharira chatusthaya (quartet of the body) is saundarya (beauty). He understood this term in many ways, including the shaping of his body parts into the image of the perfection of an archetype.
In the Foucauldian sense, an aesthetics of the self through disciplines of truth telling is a goal which can be thought of as an alignment with the Nietzschean project of overmanhood. Reading Nietzsche closely, one finds his overman as that being which exceeds environmental determinations through the power of creativity. This requires first a consciousness of the forces within and without which subject us. Freedom from subjection is the condition for the exercise of psychic and spiritual forces of self-perfection. The disciplines of truth telling help us to disentangle ourselves from the compromised life to which we have acceded through our weaknesses. It thereby strengthens that which is autonomous in us and its creative power, to refashion ourselves in the image of beauty (saundarya), an aesthetics of the self.
As I said earlier, there are many descriptions of the Integral Yoga which Sri Aurobindo held simultaneously, and “an aesthetics of the self” leading to the image of Beauty, I believe, is one such description.

SA in his language practice privileges the One over the Many, leading to misunderstandings, imo. Because a close reading makes it clear that the Integral is radically One and radically Infinite. This cannot be logically comprehended and any attempt to language it leads to difficulties. Deleuze’s Univocity, for example, which he characterizes by the formula Monism = Pluralism, can be misunderstood, as a kind of unity as Badiou has done, or even translated in Vedantic terms to a visistadvaita (qualified non-dualism) of the Ramanuja school, where one cannot know the One-in-itself, but the One-as-difference. According to SA’s integrality, this is one poise of the supermind, the other two being those of the One-in-itself and the Different-Ones. One may call these Radical Monism, Monism = Pluralism and radical Pluralism. To mind, there will always be the game of musical chairs between these three contenders without any conclusion. But it is important to empower each of these if one is to think the unthought within thought or aspire for that which is logically unthinkable.

Management of Human Energies - Fourth Dimension Inc. - Towards ...
A Monthly Ejournal by Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondichery. SAFIM. Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Management - Management of Human Energies by M.S. Srinivasan
Similarly a just, equitable, transparent and open social and political structure with minimum of hierarchy and a maximum of free and direct interaction between people, driven by a feeling of equality, comradeship and fraternity, releases a vast amount of energy in the work-life.
Liberty, equality and fraternity are some of the eternal and universal human values and they are part of the highest evolutionary destiny of humanity. So all creative and sincere attempt to realise these values in the human life, brings in the supportive sanction and energies of universal Nature. So an important part of the effort for progress is to strive for a pragmatic manifestation of liberty, equality and fraternity in the outer life of the organisation or the community or in other words towards a more and more free, equitable and fraternal corporate life. The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

To make everything fit inside theory of social action

Back to his roots from The Immanent Frame by Matteo Bortolini
As Talcott Parsons’s beloved student at the Department of Social Relations at Harvard in the 1950s, Bellah was subject to high expectations… From the point of view of the sociology of ideas, this strategy might be seen as both a homage to a venerable sociological tradition—going all the way back to Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer and the incredibly vast array of interests of 19th-century sociology—and as an attempt to bring Talcott Parsons’s work to a higher level of complexity and explicative power. Many may not know, but Parsons was a biology major and remained a voracious reader all his life, eager to make almost everything fit inside his signature “theory of social action.” …
Luhmann’s, as well as Bellah’s, silence about historical change in general should not be mistaken for lack of scholarship or courage: on the contrary, it comes from a lucid understanding of the promises and the limits of theory vis-à-vis the study of individual historical facts and processes that takes Parsons’s tendency to over-theorize seriously and tries to find a way to transcend its shortcomings.
The story of Robert Bellah and Religion in Human Evolution can thus be told as the quest a hero had to bring to an end against all odds and impediments, and as the dutiful effort of a metaphorical son to resume and further the work of his metaphorical father within a long line of ancestors—even putting the clear Weberian inspiration aside, Bellah’s decision to go back to pre-axial and axial-age civilizations after a life of work on modernity and modernization might be read as parallel to Durkheim’s decision to focus on Australian aboriginals after The Division of Labor in Society and Suicide, a choice that Bellah himself once interpreted as a journey into the unconscious sources of social existence analogous to Freud’s work on dreams…
I would make a fool of myself by saying that the main thrust beyond Bellah’s latest work is the resentment of the unappreciated intellectual. No need to call Nietzsche into question: I am just saying that besides the aspiration to bring his self-assigned life plan of research to an end, Bellah might have had another, all too human, desire to fulfill.

Perhaps more importantly the author does not write to simply address followers of Sri Aurobindo but has done an even greater service by attempting to make the Record available to a wider audience by drawing comparisons with the work of several of the most renown philosophers of the late 20th Century including Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and especially Gilles Deleuze who figures most prominently in his analysis of the Record of Yoga.
Contemporary philosophy or theory is now in a post-metaphysical stage given the myriad of problems associated with ideologies that have been spun from worn out metaphysical creeds throughout the 20th century. It is a stroke of genius to analyze Sri Aurobindo’s yoga by employing the language of Gilles Deleuze because of its relevance to contemporary thought. Given the fact that The Record of Yoga and Sri Aurobindo’s many other important texts were written close to 1o0 years ago and thus are cloaked in the language of metaphysical idealism, that although appropriate for the times, now represent a discourse largely removed from the necessities of our Post-Metaphysical Age, Banerji has performed an invaluable service for contemporary scholars, theologians as well as followers of integral yoga. Because of the seemingly incommensurable discursive gap between Aurobindo and Deleuze one would never gleam the similarities if someone as skilled as Banerji has not attempted his comparison.
R: A short note on the... Posted March 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
Reading them today I can not help to smile because language – as we know from Future Poetry – charts the leading edge of our evolutionary turn. So for example to read these words in the 21st century well after the intuitive poetic vision that inspired their first utterance has passed, I can only wonder what the signifier psychicization differs and defers to? If one takes SA seriously about the infinite expressive potentialities of the Divine then one would be real surprised if this did not also correspond to an equally expressive ever-evolving language.
Therefore it seems to me rather unlikely that what Sri Aurobindo may have first gleamed in language from an intuitive vision over 75 years ago would in fact be the very same language he would cloak his “guru english” in today. Over time sublime experience becomes reified in language, inspirational poetry quickly becomes stale ideology. While one can memorize his system and learn to parrot Sri Aurobindo’s words mapping his experience onto the countless differences that shape the experiences and inner topography of each one of us is a whole other enchilada.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Autocracy propped up by falsehood, intimidation and bribery

Throughout the world there is an unmistakable trend of common people rising up against their autocratic overlords and tyrants. No doubt there is a Divine decree that has gone forth that is behind this rapid overturning of all dictatorships and the breakdown of political thuggery. 
If the Ashram is a microcosm of the world and what happens in it is a representative of the world outside, then the Divine Will, as it manifests in the world, is also an indicator of what It seeks to achieve in the Ashram as well. The writing is on the wall for all to see. 
This issue can only be resolved if the average Ashramite stands up and quietly, but firmly, rejects the stifling apparatus of unaccountable and non-transparent autocracy propped up by falsehood, intimidation and bribery, which the current management has foisted on them and now seeks to legitimize in the name of the Mother, specifically by recourse to the Trust Deed. 
The true friends of the Ashram, as well as of the trustees themselves, are those that speak out and call a halt to the suicidal downward slide on which the collective has been accelerating under their reckless and negligent misrule. A positive outcome of the current crisis in the Ashram will surely constitute the next step in a virtuous cycle of more transparent and better accountable governance of people throughout the world. Reply

Robert Wilkinson is misinformed when he says the Ashram Archives "lists Heehs as one of its founding member". He is merely repeating Heehs' false claim. In fact Heehs was originally one of 40 proof-readers of the SABCL publication unconnected with the Archives when it was started. The Mother blessed two young men as the first researchers at the Archives founded by Jayantilal Parekh. Heehs was nowhere in the picture. Since Jayantilal headed both projects (Archives and SABCL), eventually after 1973 the proof-reading group was folded into the already existent Archives. That is how Heehs came to join the Archives as a proof-reader. By that time, the actual researchers at the Archives (approved by the Mother) were already at work for over two years

With a little bit of luck Vancouver Sun  By DOUGLAS TODD, Vancouver Sun March 16, 2012 Is life just random chance? Or is it pre-determined, either by God or by the inexorable laws of a mechanistic universe?
Going a bit further than O’Driscoll, some spiritually inclined philosophers – such as Sri Aurobindo from India and Hartshorne and others from North America – have taken to heart that the universe is continually evolving.In the world’s process of becoming, they say that “God” is basically the natural force that draws order out of chaos, out of randomness. Like Aristotle, 20th-century philosophers and scientists such as Charles Peirce, David Böhm and Robert Kane are convinced there is more than spontaneity, accident or blind luck. There is also an organizing principle. As Hartshorne put it, “Neither pure chance nor the pure absence of chance can explain the universe.”
Even while rejecting the notion of an all-controlling Designer of the Universe, Anglo-American physicist Paul Davies said new “post-modern” science reveals that “an ordered universe is more than a gigantic accident.” It contains purpose. The late Australian microbiologist Charles Birch said it this way: “The post-modern discourse is that chance and purpose can live together. Indeed, one is not possible without the other.”
Not absolutely everything is predetermined by cause and effect, Birch says. Humans, and other sentient creatures, have some degree of real free choice. In other words, randomness and directivity are complementary. In life, especially in humans, Birch maintains there is a fundamental “urge to live,” to “anticipate,” to seek “realistic hope.” The creative power of the future, which some call “eros,” influences the world to move toward greater richness of experience. Whether or not most people accept such cosmological speculation about the evolutionary process, such ideas about inherent purposefulness in the universe seem to back up David Foster Wallace when he said, “I wish you more than luck.”

special article the statesman 29 January 2011 Poetry & Patriotism~I  Argha Banerjee 
The Enduring Legacy Of Sri Aurobindo & Swami Vivekananda
Poetry is the spiritual excitement of a rhythmic voyage of self-discovery among the magic islands of form and name in these inner and outer worlds. ~ Sri Aurobindo
In his poem, “Lines on Ireland”, composed in 1896, Sri Aurobindo exclaims at the fall of Ireland:
How changed, how fallen from her ancient spirit!/ She that was Ireland, Ireland now no more,/ In beggar’s weeds behold at England’s door ...” 
The seeds of fervent nationalism or patriotism, which were to blossom over the coming decades, could be traced to his poem on Ireland. Sri Aurobindo’s prescription for Irish redemption, was not a military strategy but a return to its roots, self-introspection, deeper spiritual communion, revival of its past glory and distinctive cultural identity. For the subjugation and subservience of Ireland, he doesn’t accuse the alien power but blames the enslaved state:
But thou to thine own self disloyal, hast/ Renounced the help divine, turning thy past/ To idle legends and fierce tales of blood,/ Mere violent wrath with no proposed good.
The poet’s attack culminates in the line which emphatically asserts:
How fallen art thou being ruled by these!
His personal frustration is a spontaneous  condemnation of a shameless surrender to foreign domination. As Shyam Kumari rightly observes in the critical essay “The Spirit of Indian Nationalism in Sri Aurobindo’s Early Poems”:
“It is a sweet journey to follow in the footsteps of Sri Aurobindo’s early poetry and trace the first dawn of the Indian spirit.”
Sri Aurobindo’s entrapment in an alien culture did not impede his quest for search of the traditional roots of Indian heritage. His stress was on spiritual regeneration and rediscovery of the cultural roots for an emphatic assertion of nationalist identity. Sri Aurobindo was influenced by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who fused spirituality with nationalism in Anandamath. He advocated a confrontational path for the sanyasis as their means of liberation or nirvana.
Patriotism or nationalism is not alienated from spirituality. Cultural self-discovery, especially the rekindling of inherent tradition and heritage, has a sacramental dimension. The sanctity of the latter has to be preserved against all odds. This is at the root of  the spiritual resilience of a nation against external subjugation. It is this spiritual empathy that Sri Aurobindo celebrated when he described the novelist in his poem entitled “Bankim Chandra Chatterji” as “The sweetest voice that ever spoke in prose.” In his obituary lyric “Saraswati with the Lotus”, he evokes the muse of learning and bemoans the sad demise of the author:
Thy tears fall fast, O Mother, on its bloom,/ O white-armed mother, like honey fall thy tears;/ Yet even their sweetness can no more relume/ The golden light, the fragrance heaven rears,/ The fragrance and the light for ever shed/ Upon his lips immortal who is dead.
Spiritual heritage and individuality are intrinsic to national identity. Sri Aurobindo started from this point and made spirituality and nationalism concomitant like a glorious and invincible union of the Ganga and Jamuna, thereby upholding the sacred past and the “mighty godhead of Sanatana Dharma”. It is this spirit that is echoed in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Irish nationalist, Charles Stewart Parnell (1891):
O pale and guiding light.../ Thou too wert then a child of tragic earth,/ Since vainly filled the luminous doom of birth.
Sri Aurobindo’s identification with Parnell and correlation of India with Ireland is distinctly clear in the following lines:
Deliverer lately hailed, since by our lords/ Most feared, most hated, hated because feared,/ Who smot’st them with an edge surpassing swords!
These early poems testify that Sri Aurobindo was searching for an apt metaphor for his own Mother India. The general refrain in most of these lyrics is a clarion call to regain the lost pride and glory, which would pave the path for liberation from alien rule. Behind the guise of Ireland, Sri Aurobindo revealed his concern for his own country. The mask however lies uncovered, though in a different context altogether, in the poem “Night by the Sea”:
In thy bosom’s snow white walls ... Shut my heart up; keep it closed/ Like a rose of Indian grain ...”
Having resurrected the faith in his roots he became acutely conscious of how he “had wronged” his “youth and nobler powers” by “weak attempts, small failures, wasted hours”. The call for homeland and its freedom is distinct and resonant.
CR Das once described Sri Aurobindo as “the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity”. Among the poems that express his sense of nationalism and quest for liberty, the most notable is “Baji Prabhu”, a long narrative poem that eulogises the fortitude and valour of the Maratha warrior against the Mughals.

Descending stooped, towards the vesper verge/ He gazed and cried: “make iron of your souls./ Yet if Bhavani wills, strength and the sword/ Can stay our nation’s future from o’erthrow/ Till victory with Shivaji return.
Inflicted. And from time to time the gaze/ Of Baji sought the ever-sinking sun./ Men fixed their eyes on him and in his firm/ Expression lived. So the slow minutes passed. 
The poem marks a remarkable blend of form and content.  Sri Aurobindo’s “Vadula”, first published under the title “The Mother to her Son”, also explores the theme of valour and courage.  The following extract echoes the clarion call of Mother India to her children:
Shrink not from a noble action, stoop not to unworthy deed!/ Vile are they who stoop, they gain not Heaven’s doors, nor here succeed ~ When thou winnest difficult victory from the clutch of fearful strife, I shall know thou art my offspring and shall love my son indeed.
The notion of the Nation as Mother seemed a natural continuation of Swami Vivekananda’s evocation of the goddess in the poem “Kali the Mother”. Written in Kashmir in 1898, the poem was composed during his pilgrimage to Kshir Bhavani… Both Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo advocated a massive upheaval for the spiritual resurgence of the country and Shiva serves as a triumphant symbol of such a spiritual revival. (To be concluded) The writer is on the faculty of the Department of English, St Xavier’s College, Kolkata