The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice. -- Sri Aurobindo (from the message broadcast on the eve of August 15, 1947)

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Unholy alliance between Big data and Big money

[Hartz relates the thought of Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Jawaharlal Nehru & other Asian thinkers to globalization]

In this int'view Aurobindo recommends moral/spiritual activism over "petty political" involvement.

Defining Indian Identity in a Globalized World Sachidananda Mohanty
We must decolonize our mind just as we need to discard models of development and empowerment that are inspired by the West and bear no connection to the reality of the Indian situation. Defining the Indian mind in an era of unipolar world is no easy task. There is no single principle, formula or panacea that can be applied in a uniform or dogmatic manner. The approach requires imagination, critical intelligence and flexibility. As suggested in this article, Sri Aurobindo provides many answers. It is time we made a beginning in the light of his approach. 

Transcending Moral and Ethical Standards To Achieve a Limitless Divine Action

Auroville (India) #OrganicFarming via @wordpressdotcom

The more we use words like saviour or super hero, the more we lose the language of democracy. -

The Hindu's big story on Big Data. What does this bode for humanity? Read on to find out. -
Big Data is the new gold.. Superb debut essay by @samzsays in @the_hindu! # must read

The Age of Technocertainty
"What u say and how valid it is, is inconsequential. Who u r and your motive is what matters". Great article by ...
On the schism between science and technology. And what it might mean. My piece in the TOI today.

Why i will not allow my child to become a doctor in India. By Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan #MustRead

Michael Munchow, ‎Sonu Shamdasani - 2002 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
Freud concludes from this in his text about Goethe's Dichtung and Wahrheit that “if a man has been his mother's undisputed ... Very soon, however, Freud's curiosity turns to the secrets of human nature, a compromise between his taste for ...

Signing the Royal Society book made Freud look more like what he had always wanted, or half wanted, to be: a man of science, who opened up the secrets of life. And yet, Freud knew that the new book was not going to be science. It would ...

Indeed, Freud points out to us that the uncanny is a particular “species of the frightening that goes back to what was once well ... 22 Freud points to Schelling's definition where the uncanny, is “everything that was meant to remain secret and ...

Another important difference to Freud (and indeed, to society in general in the early 20th century) was Adler's belief in the equality of men and women. Scottish psychiatrist Ian Suttie disagreed vehemently with both Freud and Adler; Suttie ...

Freud's theory of the unconscious led him to his assessment of repression. Freud believed that individuals have secrets that they keep from themselves. As he put it quite simply in The Question of Lay Analysis (1947), "Everyone is aware that ...

[Gondwana included Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Australia, Arabian Peninsula & Indian Subcontinent]

[Geophysical evidence indicates west coast of India came into being 100 - 80 mya after it broke away from Madagascar]

[Observing Saturn: See the Gorgeous Ringed Planet and Its Moons]

Humans need not apply

The Statesman (press release)
Robotics is now the biggest thing since the Internet. Japan ... The YouTube videoHumans Need Not Apply shows how horses that ran the Pony ...

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Internet is teeming with those that create with passion

Does all success need to be replicated? Is some potential best left unrealised?  In praise of un-marketing:
May 3, 2015, 10:20 PM IST Santosh Desai in City City Bang Bang 
In praise of un-marketing
In fact, the dominant ethos of business today, is not only mandatory to mop up all value that is embedded in any venture, but if possible one is encouraged to suck up future earnings in the name of valuations. The digital world is testimony to the appetite business has for earning today what a business might one day hope to earn over several years, if not a lifetime. So many financial instruments of the day collapse future potential into present profit.

The abiding idea that drives the world of business is that of scale. Success is replicated, scaled up, leveraged. The very idea of replication is that of dead multiplication, of things breeding and coming into being without having to come alive in any sense of the word. Scale comes from granting universality of access but taking away the grainy specificity of a particular experience. In doing so, ideas become products, that deliver uniformity in a way that is easy to consume. This has always been true, but has become much more so today.

In a world of this kind, the idea that there are currencies of other kinds, that there could conceivably be room for people not to extract value but to let it lie unattended, fallow would appear to hopelessly dated. But for many ventures like Ganesh Idli, value takes on many forms- the appreciation of customers who hunt down this place and come from far and wide, the pride of maintaining quality, the feeling of successfully carrying on a legacy, and the cussed insistence of doing the precisely right thing, simply because that’s how it should be done.

The quality of greatness, rather than that of serviceable sufficiency, comes from an ability to leave something on the table. Not every ounce of value is squeezed from a transaction; the price in this case bears no resemblance whatsoever to the value delivered. In this world, a product or experience cannot be fully described by what it costs- labels like high-end or premium get exposed for their poverty.

The difference is in the starting point- today we live in a world defined by the consumer- we begin with what we want to consume and work backwards, by stuffing things with the ingredients of success. This is as true of food as it is of management theory; we want to first find out what makes people consume more of some food or what are the 7 signs of effective leaders and then go ahead and recreate those conditions to the best of our ability.

The world of Ganesh Idli and its ilk, on the other hand,  begins with the creator and caters first to his needs and is constrained by the limits of his imagination as well as greed. The product is an expression of the creator’s beliefs and abilities, and not a precis of consumer desires. It does both more and less, than what is deemed ideal and creates its own ethos of consumption. By foregoing the value it could extract from the transaction, it rescues us from the act of consumption, by making us connoisseurs, rather than mere consumers.

The world built around people who create as against people who consume is fortunately, not only a thing of nostalgia. One of the great advantages of the internet is that it in purest form has little regard for scale. Interesting ideas generate their own currencies and as a result, we are seeing an outbreak of creation- not only those that seek multi-billion dollar valuations, but those that put their passion out on display for the world to appreciate. Small fashion labels, sites for food lovers, archivists of traditional forms of music and dance, collectors of knowledge about traditions and customs of specific communities, the internet is teeming with those that create because they want to and not because there is a market waiting for their efforts.

The opportunity of finding meaning in acts of creation is available much more freely today. The more we are to develop currencies other than money, the richer the fruits of affluence are likely to be.

Another brick in the wall: Examinations and the child
Education has been reduced to the level of ‘teaching for testing’. The individual is completely lost. All that is visible are aggregates of a tiny part of the human capability, measured through tools of suspicious reliability

Authentic self and education

We often talk of education as being an instrument of economic development of self and society. Sometimes, we also allude to it as being an instrument to help one prepare for critical, democratic citizenship. But rarely do we talk of education being a process to help a person form his authentic self. When I talk about “formation of the authentic self”, I do not mean the oft-talked about character development and education in values. All three aims of education — economic, citizenship, and character/values — though necessary, fall short of helping one form one’s authentic self. Moreover, they can be used to work against it.

The three characteristics I would like to count as being a part of the authentic self of an individual are: autonomy, integrity and harmony. Apart from one’s intellectual capabilities, all three necessarily should manifest themselves as character traits of an individual. Further, their necessary ingredients are a deep, emotional investment as well as a dispassionate understanding.

Let’s examine these three. Autonomy means using one’s own mind in making choices whether they are personal or public. This is possible only with a robust understanding of the world and one’s situation in it. It also demands a level of self-confidence and self-respect without being conceited or indulgent.

Integrity is more than just autonomy as it involves a coherence in the results of one’s intellectual deliberations and taking them seriously while putting them in action and thus imparts an overall stability to one’s personality.

Harmony, metaphorically, may be termed as a state of internal peace. More precisely, it means an alignment between one’s emotional states, intellectual understanding and actions. I will also bring in “an absence of fragmentation”, which does not mean the complete absence of internal tension. There will always be a certain degree of tension as one constantly faces new situations and in utilising one’s emotional and intellectual energies to bear upon them. But this tension will always be confined to being within the limits of one’s strength of character. This wholesome development of an individual can be called the formation of an authentic self. Education is the primary means of helping an individual form such a self. Perhaps, it is also the highest goal of education. An alternative expression for an authentic self can be: manasa, vachaa, karmana; with the proviso that all three are governed by one’s own judgement.

Examinations and testing

So far there is no method by which to assess the development of an authentic self. The only test is life itself! Examinations are a severely limited means by which to assess educational development, even if the assessment of an authentic self is left out. First, they are limited to testing the present repertoire of knowledge of an individual; even this has severe problems of validity and reliability. Knowledge is a fully connected whole and it cannot be tested by seeking fragments of information as is usually done in examinations. Going deeper into the interconnections of concepts and beliefs of an individual is a time-consuming and subjective affair; subjective for both examiner and examinee. In order for it to be reliable, it demands objectivity across a sample of examinees. Therefore, validity and reliability vary inversely with each other. Large-scale tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Annual Student Assessment Report (ASER) can ensure a satisfactory level of reliability and validity only if the testing is limited to a very small portion of student learning. This makes them almost useless in understanding the development of an authentic self. However, to be fair, in such tests, this is not even the goal.

Competition, an endemic problem of everyday life, is aggravated through a system of testing and examination. In the name of pursuing “success”, schools start encouraging competition at the individual level right from standard one. Measuring one child against the other becomes the motivating factor in learning; in the process, immeasurable damage is done to the child’s self-image; in most cases, a child’s worth is reduced to a piece of paper signed by the class teacher. In schools, students become almost intellectual slaves, competing with each other for a greater share of the market. [...] It tears apart the coherence of intellectual deliberations, values and actions. It completely destroys the harmony between the intellectual, moral and emotional self; it makes action a random response to the contingency of the moment.

The besieged state of education is what is reducing the child’s soul into a battlefield that results in fragmented pieces of the self. The child’s aspirations, understanding, moral dispositions and emotions are constantly at war with each other. We are reducing the child into becoming fake copies of what we aspire for rather than helping the child become a master of his or her own soul. One wonders whether cases of student suicides in India and the repeated instances of shooting sprees in American schools are a direct result of this disharmony in the soul created by present day education systems! (Rohit Dhankar is professor and director, academic development at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, and founder member, Digantar, Jaipur.)

The Telegraph. Critical voice:
Individuals have opinions and in a democracy they are entitled to express them. Individuals form their opinions under a variety of influences and compulsions; sometimes even personal frustration lurks behind the articulation of the most well-intended criticisms. What is of importance is that, once uttered, the views and not the person airing them gain salience. Are those views relevant? Do they reflect the reality? These are some of the questions that demand to be addressed and the individual and his motives become marginalized.

Indian Government must remove the blindfold | Free Press Journal — By Seema Mustafa | May 02, 2015 
Democracies flourish only if governments in power take on the mantle of a progressive collective, and thereby ensure that regressive mores that riddle a society are effectively countered. Otherwise the nature of a democracy itself shifts, from the beacon of progress and equality to a rigid, regressive polity that harbours ills that breed inequality and injustice. [...]
Clearly tremendous pressure needs to be exerted on governments to move away from these regressive positions. Of course it is difficult to say whether such pressure will work on political parties whose ideology itself is steeped in a regressive thought process, but then for the sake of democracy the effort has to be made.

The Thinking Indian: Essays on Indian Socio-Cultural Matters in the Light of S... via @amazon
This book is a result of some of my intellectual activity over the last few years. It is my humble attempt to remind my fellow Indians and all those interested in India - let us start thinking, and think deeply and widely. 

It should be obvious that I am not suggesting to continue with the merely mechanical, repetitive thought that is a function of the lowest rung of our physical minds. We need not become passive consumers of information, mindlessly accepting or rejecting what others have said just because they have been given the label of 'thinkers' or 'experts' or 'intellectuals.' We must continue to critically examine, evaluate and think through all the observations, opinions, analyses, reflections that come from various sources - academics, journalists, opinion-makers, think tanks, policy experts, celebrities, everyone. 

Let us start thinking on our own. Let us investigate carefully what is said about India in the social-cultural-political discourse and come to our own conclusions. If we want India to rise to her full potential we have to start thinking, freely and independently of all ideological preferences and academic theories that are currently in fashion. We have to start examining all the data points in the light of the truth of the Indian spirit. We have to start a personal journey of discovering the Indian spirit, in the Indian way. 

To remind ourselves of the words of Sri Aurobindo from the same message quoted earlier: "It is the one who can fathom and learn the truth of the world by thinking more, searching more, labouring more, who will gain more Shakti." 

It is with this hope of gaining more Shakti, more energy to continue my thinking and searching, and to facilitate, in some small measure, the same in my readers that I offer this book. 

Beloo Mehra
Pondicherry, April 24, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

People wondered why Sri Aurobindo was supporting Churchill
Nirodbaran - 1973 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
How many letters Sri Aurobindo had to write to his disciples to show their grave error and the danger of the Nazi victory! I quote only one such letter he wrote to adisciple, in 1942, "... You should not think of it as a fight for certain nations against  ...
M. G. Umar - 2001 - ‎Snippet view
There were disciples like Amrita who at the very sight of Him experienced the Vast Infinite and the Eternal. He embodied in his ... when he sent word to the Congress leaders to accept the offer of Sir Stafford Cripps in 1942. B. Siva Rao, who  ...
Sachidananda Mohanty - 2012 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
1 The letter referred to was written by Anilbaran Roy, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, in answer to a question raised by an ... 4 Sir Stafford Cripps' telegram in reply, dated 1 April 1942: IAm Most Touched And Gratified By Your Kind Message  ...
The so-called halo that was drawn all around Aurobindo will never allow this question to be settled. ... By coincidence, it was also Aurobindo's 75th birthday. ...1942-45 incidents, there was no other notable incident in Shri Aurobindo's life. ...that day, that for 5 days, till such time that his mortal body was kept for viewing by his followers and disciples from all over the world, it continued to look resplendent.
Peter Heehs - 2013 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
127 His yoga, he wrote to a disciple, involved not only “union with the Divine or a perception of Him in all things,” but also ... In a letter written on April 6, 1942 SriAurobindo conceded that Calcutta was “now in the danger zone,” but warned  ...
Mother takes charge of the disciples and establishes the Ashram. ... 1942, March SupportstheCripps Proposalof the British Government, Indian for the war seeking cooperation effortin Asiain ... 1972, August 15 Sri Aurobindo's Birth  ...
1926 24 November Siddhi Day; after a decisive spiritual I930-I938 realization, SriAurobindo withdraws from direct contact ... with a 1939-1940 1940 September1942 March 1947 15 August 1948 I949 I950 5 December few disciples begins.
Aurobindo Ghose - 1995 - ‎Preview
APPENDIX Some significant writings of Sri Aurobindo, slightly outside the scope of the four sections of this collection, ... he let a disciple proceed to Delhi in 1942and inform the national leadership of the day that Sri Aurobindo desired them to ...
Amaresh Datta - 1988 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
In the poetry of some of Sri Aurobindo's disciples for example, Subramania Bharati in Tamil, Nishikanta in Bengali, Sumitranandan Pant and Dinkar in Hindi, Bendre in Kannada, Sundaram and Pujalal in ... 1942) was published in 1981.
David J. Lorenzo - 1999 - ‎Preview
Popular Political Argument in the Aurobindo Movement David J. Lorenzo ... ofAurobindo's leading yogic disciples, see Nolini Kanta Gupta, "Reminiscences," in Nolini Kanta Gupta and K. Amrita, Reminiscences ... Jawaharlal Nehru, Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (New York: John Day, 1942), 44.
... earth and mankind in the immediate future.1 —Sri Aurobindo (29 July 1942) The attack on Sri Aurobindo he Ashram was ... festive occasions, for they were the only times when the disciples and devotees could see Sri Aurobindo up close .
Leela Gandhi - 2014 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
... into English in 1942 by Swami Nikhilananda and Margaret Wilson, daughter of the American president Woodrow Wilson. ... 84 Sri Aurobindo puts the matter more plainly in a letter to a disciple: “I am not interested in my own biography.
Ed. Mohit K. Ray - 2003 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions
The poetry was still in the hands of Aurobindo's disciples and some mystics. Naturally the spirit of the ... They have given expression to the political aspect of Indian nationalism, especially the political event of 1942. According to Hans Kohh, the  ...
Satish Barbuddhe - 2007 - ‎Full view
On November 24, 1926, the Day of Siddhi, Sri Aurobindo experienced the descent of Krishna in the physical; in other ... He passed a life of complete retirement for about twelve years, from 1926 to 1938, hardly seeing anybody but keeping in contact with his disciples through written words. ... setback for the evolution.12 In1942, he advised the people of India to accept Sri Aurobindo's Life, Mind and Art 23.
Aurobindo Ghose - 1990 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
Sri Aurobindo's first years (1910-1914) of 'silent Yoga', as we can infer from the painstakingly detailed 'Record of ... These writings could be supplemented by the hundreds — perhaps thousands — of letters written to the disciples; and ... With this background, it was hardly surprising that, in his message to Sir Stafford Cripps of 31 March 1942, Sri Aurobindo welcomed the mission "as an opportunity given  ...
Sujata Nahar, ‎Michel Danino, ‎Shankar Bandyopadhyay - 2005 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
Duraiswami Iyer, an eminent and brilliant advocate of the Madras High Court and Sri Aurobindo's disciple. ... Later, in March 1942, Sri Aurobindo sent him as his personal envoy to the Congress leaders to urge them to accept Sir Stafford  ...
Radhey L. Varshney, ‎Shashi Prabha - 1991 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
He detached himself completely but kept in contact with his disciples through written replies. ... He also advised the acceptance of the Cripps proposals in1942, but Gandhiji and his companions were in favour of independence and launched  ...
K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar - 1985 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
When I started work on it late in 1942, I was not slow to realise that the biographer of Sri Aurobindo had himself to be a ... had maintained of SriAurobindo's conversations with his disciples at Pondicherry; and yet another record of the talks, the  ...
Roque Ferriols - 1966 - ‎Snippet view
"Letters of Sri Aurobindo to Disciples," Sri Aurobindo Mandir Annual, Vol. Ill, Third Yearbook of the Sri ... Ideal," Sri Aurobindo Mandir Annual, Vol. I, First Yearbook of the Sri Aurobindo Mandir (Calcutta: Sri Aurobindo Pathamandir, 1942), 4-10.
Narayan Prasad - 1965 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
People wondered why Sri Aurobindo was giving so much support to a sworn enemy of India like Churchill. Sri Aurobindo's concern was not for Britain, the United States, India or any other country. We must ... disciple (29-7-1942) " .
Aurobindo Ghose - 1970 - ‎Snippet view - ‎More editions
29-7-1942 * 2What we say is not that the Allies have not done wrong things, but that they stand on the side of the ... 1 This letter was written to a disciple in answer to his doubts about Sri Aurobindo's publicly declared standpoint with regard to  ...