Informed reappraisal of Gandhi vis-à-vis Sri Aurobindo - Katju controversy provides an wonderful opportunity for informed reappraisal of Gandhi vis-à-vis Sri Aurobindo and his prophecies. @mkatju Admiring persons ...5 weeks ago
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Sri Aurobindo considers the present day caste system a ‘gross meaningless parody’ of the ancient varna system which he believes to be more of a psychological and nature type. Without denigrating the past, unlike some of our modern day reformers who go to foreign lands to appeal before foreign tribunals to intervene and set things right in the Indian social system, Sri Aurobindo asserts that the modern system is a distortion of the ancient which had provided great security, impetus to growth and resilience to society then and was accepted and adjusted to quite easily. This was so because of its organic development; it grew out of the necessity of the age, flexibility and its lack of rigidity in terms of heredity. He writes:
“…At first, birth does not seem to have been of the first importance in the social order, for faculty and capacity prevailed; but afterwards, as the type fixed itself, its maintenance by education and tradition became necessary and education and tradition naturally fixed themselves in a hereditary groove. Thus the son of a Brahmin came always to be looked upon conventionally as a Brahmin…”
The new nationalism that must eventually establish itself and bring about a united Indian nationality shall recognize the individual first and foremost as a soul beyond the purview of caste and status and shall strive for the equal development of all without exception. Having perceived the ‘One’ in all in the true spirit of the Sanatana Dharma it shall proceed for the upliftment of all and thus naturally sublimate differences and antagonisms. Sri Aurobindo describes in no uncertain terms the new nationalism and its attitude to cast and overall national development in that perspective in the bold and incisive columns of the Bande Mataram in 1907, a hundred years ago:
“…The baser ideas underlying the degenerate perversions of the original caste system, the mental attitude which bases them on a false foundation of caste, pride and arrogance of a divinely ordained superiority depending on the accident of birth, of a fixed and intolerant inequality, are inconsistent with the supreme teaching, the basic spirit of Hinduism which sees the one invariable and indivisible Divinity in every individual being. Nationalism is simply the passionate aspiration for the realisation of that Divine Unity in the nation, a unity in which all the component individuals, however various and apparently unequal their functions as political, social or economic factors, are yet really and fundamentally one and equal. In the ideal of nationalism which India will set before the world, there will be an essential equality between man and man, between caste and caste, between class and class, all being…different but equal and united parts of the Virat Purusha realised in the nation…Indian Nationalism must by its inherent tendencies move towards the removal of unreasoning and arbitrary distinctions and inequalities…”
It is evident that the issue has never been looked at or tackled from the above point of view mainly because it requires a certain degree of selflessness, a deeper intuitive understanding of the Indian spiritual tradition and the ability to carry out impartial action all of which are at a short supply in our public life today. The present system has tried to bring about a rapprochement only by a mechanism of safeguards, which has, instead of mitigating, kept alive the very animosities, and divisions it was meant to remove. An outward mechanism alone can never totally eradicate inequalities and biases, which have deep psychological roots. They have to be approached by an understanding from the deeper level of the heart, by providing the right perspective of our philosophical and spiritual ideals and by making accessible to all equal opportunities of self-development. Sri Aurobindo continues in the same article:
“…It does not require much expenditure of thought to find out that the only way to rid the human mind of abuses and superstitions is through a transformation of spirit and not merely of machinery. We must educate every Indian, man, woman and child, in the ideals of our religion and philosophy before we can rationally expect our society to reshape itself in the full and perfect spirit of the Vedantic gospel of equality…Education on a national scale is an indispensable precondition of our social amelioration…”
The new nationalism thus shall believe in the ‘Divinity in every individual’ and the realization of that unity in the nation and shall first call for a total abolition of the modern caste-system and its practises and shall then demand the abrogation of all mechanisms which prolong its existence. Reservations in the name of religion and caste only keep alive, deepen and widen that divide which our past masters desired and developed – it survives today as a colonial relic and if India is to mature and develop a deep rooted and binding nationality these relics will have to be forever interred. The new nationalism shall have the gumption and the élan to ‘overleap every barrier’ and to reach out far and wide with the message and light of unity, strength, love and progress and in keeping with its deep spiritual moorings it shall exclude or overlook none from its refreshing sweep. While he attempted to evolve this nationalism in the first decade of the last century in Bengal Sri Aurobindo described its attributes and nature in dynamic words:
“…The new [nationalism] overleaps every barrier; it calls to the clerk at his counter, the trader in his shop, the peasant at his plough; it summons the Brahmin from his temple and takes the hand of the Chandala in his degradation; seeks out the student in his College, the schoolboy at his books, it touches every child in its mother’s arms; and the secluded zenana has thrilled to its voice; its eye searches the jungle for the Santal and travels the hills for the wild tribes of the mountains. It cares nothing for age, sex or caste or wealth or education or respectability; it mocks at the talk of a stake in the country; it spurns aside the demand for a property qualification or a certificate of literacy. It speaks to the illiterate or the man in the street in such rude vigorous language as he best understands, to youth and the enthusiast in accents of poetry, in language of fire, to the thinker in the terms of philosophy and logic, to the Hindu it repeats the name of Kali, to the Mahomedan it spurs to action for the glory of Islam. It cries to all to come forth, to help in God’s work and remake a nation, each with what his creed or his culture, his strength, his manhood or his genius can give to the new nationality. The only qualification it asks for is a body made in the womb of an Indian mother, a heart that can feel for India, a brain that can think and plan for her greatness, a tongue that can adore her name or hands that can fight in her quarrels…”
It is only in the development of this nationalism that India can truly be reborn; it is only in its growth and spread that lies India’s salvation, her unity, strength and overall progress. To try to bring about all of these in the present day spirit of reservations and quotas in the existing system is bound to be a futile exercise which shall benefit none but the self-seeker and breed further unbridgeable divisions. Sri Aurobindo gives the mantra of true equality and harmony and it is the only mantra to be followed to true lasting happiness and fulfillment of national growth, there is no other way – nanya pantha. Are we ready? Do we have the determination and conviction to spread that mantra? Can free India begin to chant it at last?
If you benefit from capitalism you should just shut up and not voice problems with other aspects of capitalism
To put the matter a bit differently, the original post wasn’t seeking to understand the authors question, but was poking fun at this type of question altogether. Yes, yes, I’m familiar with the ideology you outline and explicate. I just think it’s mistaken for a variety of reasons.
I suspect that many who have a thorough grounding in economics would disagree with both your “we must destroy to create” thesis, your thesis that socialism is inevitably accompanied by horrors such as we saw in the Soviet Union, or in the inevitability of capitalist economy. That, however, is another conversation. larvalsubjects said this on April 27th, 2007 at 6:47 pm (edit) Sorry, you sound insulted. Perhaps I was pedantic. I really didn’t want to offend you.
Personally, I don’t have a problem criticizing capitalism or the negative impact capitalism has on people. And I don’t believe my elementary observations delegitimize your complaints in any way. I thought you asked about how the author might respond to your analogy and I shared my view with you on that. Was your question merely rhetorical? Or, do you think I’m incorrect about how the author might respond or was that not really what you were asking? It seems that you reacted to me as if I was the author and you were arguing with my response. That’s an argument I haven’t the least bit of interest in engaging in.
Really, I might be misunderstanding you, but I thought the question was essentially, ‘how would the author of the statement respond?” I could have said, Levy, your argument is very powerful. You would leave the author slackjawed and stunned, but I don’t think that is what would happen.
To reiterate, I believe that such a person would say that abuse is not intrinsic to parenthood, but destruction is intrinsic to material production and prosperity. I’d add that by introducing the notion of an abused child, you’re introducing something that the author would likely react to as an inflammatory accusation of a highly personal nature. That’s because I think the analogy is more than just a straightforward analogy. It also conveys a less manifest, inflammatory meaning, even if that isn’t what you intend. I think there is an excellent possibility that the author of the statement would hear you morally equating them with a child abuser. Whether that’s how you see the author or not, I think that might be conveyed. The author of the statement would probably be thinking, ‘hey, Buddy (this isn’t me, this is how cspitalists talk — and that’s a joke, Levy), I just built you a computer, you like it and because you chucked your typewriter now I’m just like a child abuser? Voices will get raised.
I’m quite sure that is the response you would get from most capitalists whether you agree with that response or not. If you don’t either acknowledge the elementary insight and propose some way to work around it, or, alternatively, offer an informed disgreement with the elementary economic insight that demonstrates an understanding of economic creation, I don’t think you will draw a capitalist into serious engagement. You’ll probably be dismissed or end up being the recipient of insults.
You’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’re interested in how to engage others in everyday discussions in ways that might influence their thinking on matters such as these. I’m just offering my two-cents based on my experience with this particular subject. Dr X said this on April 27th, 2007 at 9:03 pm (edit) Well, I’m wondering about the economic regime in which the letters themselves were invented - back in the days when Baal was properly worshipped and a rulers were not treated as gods, but literally were gods. But read any of the classical economists, and are they grateful? Do they say, at least, that sacrificers to Baal did do a few good things? No, those spoilsports. Capitalism arose on the bones of earlier systems WHILE EMPLOYING THE SIGNS AND SYMBOLS developed by those earlier systems. Myself, I just want to see a sincere apology from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, followed by a fund to build some temples to Baal. roger said this on April 27th, 2007 at 11:03 pm (edit) Dr. X, yes I intended the question rhetorically and it was meant to be inflammatory. I get a couple emails like this a week and never respond to them. I don’t feel that there’s much point in engaging people such as this in discussion and tend to advocate ridiculing them out of existence. That is, I think Voltaire was on to something in Candide. They are of interest to me only in terms of how their rhetoric is structured and for whatever insight they provide into the psychology of minds full of ressentiment.
You’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’re interested in how to engage others in everyday discussions in ways that might influence their thinking on matters such as these.
It’s likely that I haven’t been entirely clear here, that I’m not expressing myself well in this regard. I’ve spent about six years off and on observing various conservative blogs and sometimes even participating in the guise of a rightwing conservative. I’ve experimented with rhetorical techniques, to discover what will earn prestige in these communities and what will earn vilification. There are a few I continue to read daily to this day, carefully examining the structures of their rhetoric and how these discussions function in relation to information and stories that are uncomfortable to their cause. These are blogs that regularly ban others that don’t tow the party line, so I think I’ve been pretty effective in these interactions given that I’ve never been banned. I’ve thought about these observations as fieldwork studying particular types of rhetoric. The fundamental lesson I’ve learned in this time is that these forms of discourse are populated by a number of highly effective defense structures that render them almost immune to any change or discussion with folk from the outside.
In a number of cases there really is no question of engaging someone else in dialogue or trying to reach and persuade them. Rather, if a dialogue takes place between two people where there’s no chance of persuasion possible, the purpose of this dialogue does not relate to the two people involved but to those witnessing the discussion, to the audience. The discussion is had for the sake of the audience, not for the sake of persuading the other person. Perhaps you’ve seen O Brother Where Art Thou. Recall one of the final scenes where the ugliness of the leading politician is revealed over the radio in a debate between the Soggy Bottom Boys and him, and he’s carried out on a post. This is the point of such discussions, not the persuasion of the politician himself.
When I speak about influencing public discussions, what I’m referring to is putting certain things publicly on the table that aren’t currently available within the public sphere. For instance, in today’s political climate in the United States, being a communist isn’t really a viable option. Sure, you can be a communist. But you won’t find yourself getting serious attention from the news media or from the public. Perhaps this is now changing as we elected our first socialist recently. However, the question here would be “what would have to change in order for being a communist to be seen as just as viable an option as being a democrat or a republican or a libertarian? How does this become a recognize option for the public?”
This can fruitfully be thought of in terms of populations in an ecosystem. How does one go about shifting a population that is almost completely absent in a particular ecosystem to being one that is dominant or the plurality within an ecosystem? The same holds true in public rhetoric. In order to understand this point, rhetoric shouldn’t be thought of two people talking to one another and seeking to persuade one another (what you seem to imply in your comment above), but rather in terms of themes that circulate throughout a social space like an obvious common sense that all parties involved share, even if only in the form of taking a postion for or against. Very few take a position for or against communism today as it isn’t a real position in the social field. The question is one, then, of how to get certain themes on the table at all, how to make them obvious furniture of the social environment.
Let’s take a concrete example. On a few occasions I’ve praised Dawkin’s God Delusion and Dennett’s Breaking the Spell. Why? I don’t think these texts are particularly sophisticated. I don’t think they make very new or interesting arguments. I don’t think all of their arguments are even that plausible. Certainly they aren’t the sorts of texts that I would cite or take seriously in an article I would write for an academic journal. Most importantly, I don’t think these arguments are going to persuade any of the devoutly religious.
So why do these books interest me? These books interest me in their status as “public books”. That is, they are addressed to a general, non-academic reader or are designed for mass consumption. Since they have been published they have generated discussion on a number of popular television news and radio programs and have been the subject of numerous newspaper articles. The important point here has to do with how these books relate to a certain context in American politics. These books have occured in a media environment that has been saturated by Christianity, where values discussions are constantly pitched in terms of religion, and where atheism is so absent (in news reporting) that it isn’t even discussed premised on the assumption that atheists just don’t exist in the United States. As a rhetorical event and fact (an enunciation that took place and inscribed itself in the media system), these books are thus interesting in that they challenge this assumption and introduce a new creature into the social space: The Atheist. Atheists now, perhaps, come to be recognized as a population that must be counted and recognized as having a say in public debates about policy. A believer finds that they must respond to this position in these debates, whereas before the existence of atheists in the United States didn’t differ markedly from that of biological organisms such as ourselves and infrared light, i.e., they were invisible. All response also entails concession and compromise at the rhetorical level. As such, the simple appearance of something like this– whether one agrees with it or not –shifts the nature of the entire debate and what is rhetorically obvious in subsequent discussions. Time will tell whether the growing voice of atheists has this effect on public debates or whether the hundreds of thousands of agonistics and atheists in the United States will continue to be voiceless and invisible in how public discussions or molded and framed.
No one is going to persuade the likes of Pat Robertson and his followers. What can be done is a shift in the very assumptions underlying the populace in such a way that it is increasingly difficult for such positions to even be heard or recognized as anything but fringe or lunatic positions. That is, positions can also be taken off the table and delegitimated. No one worships Greek gods anymore, perhaps organized religion as we know it today will someday disappear as well. This is why I’m always emphasizing the ethics of repetition and why it’s so important to repeat. It’s not simply a good argument that matters. Every rhetorician knows this. Rather, it’s important to repeat and repeat and repeat again until things are so ingrained in the unconscious of the population that they seem obvious. At one point, a person was on the fringe if they advocated mechanism (in physics) and heliocentrism in astronomy. Now everyone takes these things as being self-evident and assumes them as a part of the furniture of their universe. Even the religious who fought these things believe them today. This was through constant repetition or a saturation of the social space much like cane toads came to saturate the ecosystem in Australia.
Today conservative assumptions are the common sense of even many “leftist” oriented people in the United States. If you frequent democratic blogs like dailykos you discover that their positions are almost indiscernible from those of Barry Goldwater decades ago. This shows just how successful the right has been in shifting the entire field of discussion to the right. This has occured because conservatives successfully dominated the radio and news spheres, repeating their message over and over again and creating certain assumptions about the nature of reality, through a combination of argumentation, production of affects, mockery, vilification, and humiliation. In the meantime, other leftist thinkers feel as if they’re doing something by writing articles on Judith Butler or Zizek addressed to other academics, as if this is how change is produced. The point is not to persuade but to make a certain theme so ominipresent that it comes to be seen as an obvious reality. This also involves the destruction of certain forms of discourse. No one today can publicly stand up and advocate the positions of the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis without being booed out of the room. This didn’t occur by persuading the people that had these beliefs, but by changing public attitudes towards people that have these beliefs (i.e., the audience witnessing the discussion). It involved a combination of mockery, humiliation, vilification, and condemnation, as well as sound arguments. This ad hominem style of argumentation made the price too high for others to advocate these positions or tolerate them in the public space. I would like to see that happen with figure such as Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Maulkin, and their more moderate versions. In short, by posting his questions publicly I was mocking the person who wrote me with the hope that he wouldn’t write me again and perhaps that he might feel a little shame and that others who have occasionally thought such things might feel a twinge of guilt.
I am not, of course, suggesting that my blog is somehow doing these things. Here I’m concerned with theory of various sorts, not the actual activity of producing these changes. Clearly I have a lot of work to do in expressing myself if you’re reading my remarks as a plea for Habermasian communication and persuasion with fascists. larvalsubjects said this on April 28th, 2007 at 12:07 am (edit)
NEWS AND OBSERVER
April 26, 2007
A NEW IDEA: FOR-PROFIT FUNDS
David Rainy, Staff Writer
Nonprofit NC IDEA spins off a venture capital fund with a $25 million goal.The executives who run a nonprofit economic development organization in Durham hope to raise up to $25 million for a new venture capital fund that is strictly a money-making venture .
IDEA Fund Partners -- an outgrowth of N.C. Innovative Development for Economic Advancement, better-known as NC IDEA recently closed on an initial round of capital raised from institutional and individual investors. The fund expects to complete its fundraising efforts before the end of this year, partner Merrette Moore said. Moore declined to divulge how much investors have committed, but said: "We are well on our way to $25 million." Venture capitalists invest in young, privately held companies with high-growth potential, which in turn use the money for purposes, including hiring employees and developing products.
The new fund is welcome news for Triangle entrepreneurs, because venture capitalists like to invest in their own backyard so they can keep an eye on their investments. IDEA Fund also plans to invest in start-ups and early-stage companies, which are the riskiest investments and therefore tend to have the most difficulty raising outside funding .
The nonprofit NC IDEA was formed in 2003 as a spin-off from MCNC, a nonprofit founded by the General Assembly that received state funding until the late 1990s. NC IDEA inherited a $25 million fund to invest in early-stage companies; that fund isn't making any new investments, although it has reserves for making follow-up investments in the companies it already has funded.
Although the nonprofit has limited its investments to companies based in North Carolina, the for-profit IDEA Fund will prospect for good investments throughout the Southeast, said Moore. Still, he said, "This new fund will concentrate on North Carolina. We're early-stage [investors] and it's good to have proximity to the companies you invest in." Moore said the IDEA Fund already has invested in two Triangle companies but isn't ready to discuss details.
The fund expects to make initial investments of between $250,000 and $1 million per company. Industries that it is focusing on include information technology, medical device, materials technology and companies that straddle the information technology and biotechnology industries." We don't foresee investing in drug research," Moore said. The management team at NC IDEA also will run IDEA Fund Partners, led by David Rizzo, who is president and CEO of NC IDEA and managing partner of IDEA Fund. The other IDEA Fund partners are Moore, John Cambier and Lister Delgado. Several Triangle venture capital funds have raised money recently, including Southern Capitol Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners and SJF Ventures.
The flurry of fundraising activity is largely coincidence, but "the market is a little more frothy than it has been in previous years," said Southern Capitol founding partner Ben Brooks. "There is plenty of money out there."
Friday, April 27, 2007
From Agamee Odissa I know about your deep commitment to the cause of the people of Orissa. I am giving short replies to your questions on POSCO. 1. I do not think that the giant POSCO project will change the character of Orissa economy. It will continue the extractive character of the economy of the last hundred years using Orissa's raw materials for metropolitan development elsewhere. Unless an integrated chain of development with agriculture, rural industries together with sound health and education policies come up with local people's support and some heavy industries which manufacture goods using local natural resources come up as part of a larger development strategy there will be no fundamental change in the poverty-stricken region. 2. I am against the idea of SEZ. The Chinese experience is regrettable as it has produced dens of exploitation of migrant labour, women among other things. The Chinese started SEZ because they did not wish to allow foreign caitalists to enter all areas.Now they are everywhere in China and in our case the whole country is open to them. So the idea of granting tax concessions and anti-labour practices and even full power over law and order is wrong. People are resisting it in many places in India.3. The clever statement on POSCO directly taking land from people will only facilitate mobilization of the local elite with money and favours against common people. Panchayats have the power under law to reject and three Panchayats have rejected the POSCO project. Democracy is not about formal procedures but substantive rational discussion at every level. The government is commercializing and criminalizing the entire process and we are in for a prolonged confrontation in Kujanga, Kalinganagar and Kashipur. After Maikanch and Kalinganagar firings the Nandigrm firings have shocked the whole country and now people will not allow wrong policies to be imposed with impunity by the governments.
Orissa is at crossroads of development and political choices and I am hopeful that more and more educated people will identify with the poor, but struggling masses of Orissa and advocate alternative pro-people strategy of development. All the best
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
V SUNDARAM (The writer is a retired IAS officer) e-mail the writer at email@example.com
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Sri Aurobindo (141−Thoughts and Aphorisms)
There are different levels of articulation of the idea of being Indian. Think, in modern times, of Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, Coomaraswamy and, quaint as it may sound, Verrier Elwyn, an Englishman turned Indian. These articulations are significantly different from one another; but conversations between them are possible and have indeed taken place — and such conversations, one would like to think, may lead to finer, deeper articulation of the idea of being Indian.
M.S. Golwalkar presents before us, through 12 volumes of his collected works, published recently, a conception of Indianness, which is different in a rather special way. Jyotirmaya Sharma's Terrifying Vision is a critical appraisal of this depiction of Indianness, which he calls terrifying. The Golwalkar vision is indeed terrifying, but Sharma's account and assessment of it is wonderfully devoid of emotional breast beating that the title might lead one to expect. The book is scholarly without, happily, appearing to be so, written dispassionately in lucid prose, and the author allows the terror, implicit in the vision of the man who led the RSS for 32 years, to sink in through wonderfully deft intellectual persuasion, rather than make an irritating to-do about it on every page.
Why is Golwalkar's vision different in a special way? It is so, because unlike the other visions I mentioned and Sharma mentions, it forecloses all debates about its validity. It is embodied in a series of assertions, which are either taken as self-evident or assumed to follow from ones that are so. Therefore any questioning of this vision would, for that very reason, have to be seen as logically unsound, and quite likely to be grounded in dubious motives. There are no open windows — to use a Gandhian metaphor — in this vision. If I am allowed to list (not necessarily in any particular order) some of these assertions:
- Hinduism is a unitary religion and culture, and this unitariness is its moral and intellectual strength;
- differences, "bhinnata", within Hinduism have no basis in truth;
- such differences are, therefore, illusory, based on ignorance;
- Advaita (non-dualism) is the core of Hinduism;
- a necessary step in achieving a knowledge of the radical oneness of things is to dissolve one's individuality in the wholeness of society;
- God manifests himself in the form of society, nation or rashtra;
- society, and not any individual, is the only worthy object of worship;
- the Hindu rashtra is eternal and immortal;
- the present weakness of India is the result of deep forgetfulness of Hindus of their own inalienable strength and the consequent delusions of the primacy of the individual and pursuit of selfish gratifications;
- the only way to regain authentic memory is through a process of re-creating Hindus ("manushyon ki rachana") by instilling into them the virtues of purity, sincerity, integrity and martyrdom;
- these virtues must be defined in terms of the overriding truth of the utter oneness of the individual with the whole;
- Hindus who convert themselves to Islam, Christianity or Buddhism because of their perception of "wrongs" that society has done to them must remind themselves that what society (God) does cannot be questioned;
- non-Hindus — Muslims, Christians, Buddhists (and presumably poor tribal people) — must accept the absolute primacy of Hindu rashtra if India is to be their home or...
The list can be elongated, but this is surely sufficient to convey the totally self-enclosed and claustrophobic character of Golwalkar's vision...Sharma's own invitation, in the "Author's Note" at the end of the book, to the 12 volumes of Golwalkar's collected works must be taken with the seriousness that it deserves.
My only unhappiness with the book is Sharma's treatment — by no means central to his argument — of "theories of romantic nationalism" in modern Europe. Putting thinkers like Herder, Kant, Schiller, Fichte and Nietzsche in the same basket needs far greater argumentative support than Sharma has place for in the book. And while Nazism might have claimed Nietzschen inspiration, Nietzsche himself would have been horrified by such claims. Jyotirmaya Sharma's Terrifying Vision is a worthy sequel to his earlier Hindutva. Any discussion of Hindu nationalism will henceforth be terribly inadequate if it fails to take into account his critique of Golwalkar.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Whenever a radical step, a radical movement or a radical change is to be initiated we turn to Sri Aurobindo for the guiding light and the chartered path. On 6th November 1909, when he was in the midst of physically guiding and shaping the destiny of this nation he wrote an article in the Karmayogin clearly and robustly enunciating the ideals of ‘Indian Nationalism. Various groups, who are today engaged in shaping the destiny of this nation, overlook this call of his because it does not suit their respective positions. As always with Sri Aurobindo he does not take extreme stands but puts forth a synthesized truth programme which for the human mind, in its imperfect compartmental state, is too deep or to bold to be grasped. And again as with most of Sri Aurobindo’s programmes, the implementation of this demand too requires a great all pervading effort, determination and perseverance and the human mind usually looks always for quick fix solutions and systems and any sustained effort is usually anathema to it. As for those groups engaged to ‘look after’ the nation, who only live from day to day or from election to election, this demand doesn’t suit their vote-banks and thus remains relegated. Let us read in his own words the demand and the programme, elucidated nearly a hundred years ago but ever so pressing and relevant for the present national condition:
“…Lala Lajpat Rai struck a higher note, that of Hindu nationalism as a necessary preliminary to a greater Indian nationality. We distrust this ideal. Not that we are blind to facts, - not that we do not recognize Hindu-Mahomedan rivalry as a legacy of the past enhanced and not diminished by British ascendancy, a thing that has to be faced and worked out either by mutual concession or by a struggle between nationalism and separatism. But we do not understand Hindu nationalism as a possibility under modern conditions. Hindu nationalism had a meaning in the times of Shivaji and Ramdas, when the object of national revival was to overthrow a Mahomedan domination which, once tending to Indian unity and toleration, had become oppressive and disruptive. It was possible because India was then a world to itself and the existence of two geographical units entirely Hindu, Maharashtra and Rajputana, provided it with a basis. It was necessary because the misuse of their domination by the Mahomedan element was fatal to India’s future and had to be punished and corrected by the resurgence and domination of the Hindu. And because it was possible and necessary, it came into being. But under modern conditions India can only exist as a whole…”
The inability to see and stand for this truth accentuated the communal differences during most of the major periods of our struggle for freedom. The concept of ‘India as a whole’ was never really given a chance nor defended when the need arose. Because of a myopic vision and extreme lack of political will and farsightedness nationalism lost its struggle with separatism.
The cry of ‘Indian nationalism’ can be today the best anti-dote for the two-nation theory, it can negate it and compel it to an early demise. But what can be the contours of this nationalism, how can it begin to be born and function, Sri Aurobindo continues:
“…the country, the swadesh, which must be the base and fundament of our nationality, is India, a country where Mahomedan and Hindu live intermingled and side by side. What geographical base can a Hindu nationality possess? Maharashtra and Rajasthan are no longer separate geographical units but merely provincial divisions of a single country. The very first requisite of Hindu nationalism is wanting. The Mahomedans base their separateness and their refusal to regard themselves as Indians first and Mahomedans afterwards on the existence of great Mahomedan nations to which they feel themselves more akin, in spite of our common birth and blood, than to us. Hindus have no such resource. For good or evil, they are bound to the soil and to the soil alone. They cannot deny their Mother, neither can they mutilate her. Our ideal therefore is an Indian Nationalism, largely Hindu in its spirit and traditions, because the Hindu made the land and the people and persists, by the greatness of his past, his civilisation and his culture and his invincible virility, in holding it, but wide enough also to include the Moslem and his culture and traditions and absorb them into itself. It is possible that the Mahomedan may not recognize the inevitable future and may prefer to throw himself into the opposite scale. If so, the Hindu, with what little Mahomedan help he may get, must win Swaraj both for himself and the Mahomedan in spite of that resistance. There is a sufficient force and manhood in us to do a greater and more difficult task than that, but we lack unity, brotherhood, intensity of single action among ourselves…”
The ideal has been clearly demarcated but it is bound to be unpalatable to the present political players who themselves are groping in darkness engendered by the divisions of wafer-thin chameleon ideologies and egoisms. The left and the left of centre will deny the ‘largely Hindu’ aspect, for them it is something that does not really exist or is not needed for national advancement and strength. It is this attitude which has mostly confined or limited their roles in national progress. For the right the negation of ‘Hindu nationalism’ would be hard to digest and moreover they clamour for a nationalism that is wholly and not ‘largely’ Hindu. It is this isolated stand that is preventing them from formulating an effective national strategy of growth and consolidation. An ‘Indian Nationalism’ which is largely Hindu would automatically safeguard Hindu interests without being exclusive, narrow and hegemonistic and would also have the strength to bring about unity and a ‘cohesive will’. Muslims would be bitten to the quick by the allusion of their feeling more akin to the ‘great Mahomedan nations’, an observation largely relevant even today. A complete and thorough change in this outlook of the Muslim is a necessity and ‘Indian Nationalism’ as defined has the requisite strength to eradicate that feeling in an attitude of compassion and understanding and of firmness minus coercion. The ‘largely Hindu’ aspect of Indian Nationalism has to be accepted by the Muslim with a certain large heartedness and pragmatic attitude. ‘Indian Nationalism’ in reality has the appeal for the ‘nationalist Muslim’ who is concerned and strives rightly for the development of not only his community but for the nation in general and who refuses to let himself and his people be used as pawns and baits in the great game of political permutation, consolidation and power. As to the ‘lack of unity, brotherhood, intensity of single action – it is intact even today and remains at the root of all divisive ills, ‘Indian Nationalism’ shall have the will to override all these differences. Thus the formulation is frank, clear hearted and bold and the demands rather hard. An adherence to this programme in the early days would have most certainly prevented vivisection; an implementation of it today would definitely arrest further balkanization and division.
Sri Aurobindo has often been maliciously and ignorantly portrayed as the champion and originator of a Hindu revivalist right-wing movement in the country, his clarion call of ‘Indian Nationalism’ above clearly blows the top of such allegations. Sri Aurobindo remains the champion of his own vision which sees always the many sided truth and takes a stand based on synthesis and harmony, the exact opposite of the usual way of stand formulation followed today in general and in political action in particular. The sooner the country and its leaders begin to see it and appreciate it the better it shall be for them and the nation. But may be it is too much too expect from them.
The present system/method of governance and vision of India, largely a legacy of our colonial past, has lived for too long, its roots are deep and trunk too thick and branches too numerous and strong, it will perpetuate itself for some more time to come and it may sound vain even to contemplate a change, but for those of us who have before us Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the country it is never too early to rise and start.
- Can the first call then that can begin to move and bind us for the nation’s resurgence, unity and strength be Sri Aurobindo’s call of ‘Indian Nationalism’?
- Can we start spreading and uniting with that call on our lips to bring about a resurgent India?