A voyage to the destiny of man Hindu - Mar 28, 2009 HISTORY
A voyage to the destiny of man
This year marks the centenary of Sri Aurobindo’s escape from the British and arrival at Pondicherry to fulfil his life’s mission. The centenary celebrations begin on April 4.
Photo: The Hindu Photo Library Master’s vision: Sri Aurobindo.
On April 7, 1910, Ramsay MacDonald (a future Premier) asked the Secretary of State for India in the House of Commons “whether he can confirm or otherwise the report in this morning’s Times that a warrant has been issued against Mr. Aurobindo Ghose for an article which appeared in the Karmayogin, and whether, if the report be accurate, a copy of the paper can be placed in the Library for the information of the Members.” He was told that the Government was awaiting a report. Voices from Britain
An exasperated MacDonald repeated the question for the third time on April 27 and when the Government was still unable to produce the magazine, flashed a copy of it himself and read the article paragraph by paragraph, challenging whoever could to point out where hid any sedition. The only voice that tried to embarrass MacDonald wondered if the original article was not in Bengali! Replied MacDonald, “The article is in most excellent English and Mr. Aurobindo Ghose could no more write in Bengali than I could.
Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party and the first Socialist Member, quoted from the judgment of the famous Alipore Conspiracy pronouncing that no article or speech by Ghose (later Sri Aurobindo) incited violence.
“Here we have a movement which admittedly is animated by a high patriotic and moral ideal — a movement which claims the attention of the young enthusiasts of India to prevent them from being led into those devious courses into which some of them, unfortunately, have lately been tempted and the Government, seeing the growth of this movement, apparently wish to stifle it, or, by threatening the prosecution of Mr. Aurobindo Ghose, hint to others that every attempt to organise that force will be encountered with all the rigours of the law.”
This was the first major debate in the British Parliament on any Indian personality. By then no stone had been left unturned by Minto, the Governor-General, to try to trap and deport Sri Aurobindo, disregarding repeated advice to the contrary by Morley, the Secretary of State.
But Sri Aurobindo had disappeared just before the police knocked on his door, inspiring fantastic rumours obliging Sister Nivedita, who edited the Karmayogin after him, to announce that if he had gone over to Tibet to consult “Kuthmi or any other great Rishi, the fact is unknown to his other Koshas!”
Wrote The Englishman, “There is a rumour abroad that Mr. Ghose has made for Europe and probably by this time is in Geneva, the Mecca of the extremists.”
But by then Sri Aurobindo was ensconced in Pondicherry, after receiving a sudden providential command, Adesh, to the effect. Already a legend, he had no dearth of admirers in South.
A young follower, Moni, had arrived three days earlier and met Mandayam Srinivasachariar, the harassed editor of India, who had taken abode at Pondicherry. Arrangements were made for Sri Aurobindo to be put up in the vacant upper floor of a distinguished citizen Calve Shankar Chettiar’s house. Incognito
The hosts planned a grand reception, but Moni dissuaded them, for Sri Aurobindo was coming incognito. It was a quiet afternoon when he, accompanied by a follower, Bejoy, disembarked from S.S. Dupleix.
It did not take long for the British intelligence to know about his whereabouts. Efforts were made to kidnap him and failing, to persuade the French authorities to expel him. At last he was offered a comfortable bungalow in the Himalayas for his meditations. Sri Aurobindo informed all concerned through a letter to The Hindu on November 7, 1910, “I am and will remain in Pondicherry.”
Sri Aurobindo lived in solitude, a faithful few attending upon him, though he changed over to rented houses. However, some were irresistibly drawn towards him and among them were the writer Va Ra, Subramania Siva, V.V.S. Aiyer and the poet Subramania Bharati.
Then came pressure from leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai and C.R. Das insisting that he preside over the National Congress.
But he was firm in his conviction that no great change over humanity could come unless it is elevated to a new height of consciousness.
While engrossed in Yoga for enabling the descent of the power that would pave the way for such a transformation, he laid down in terms intellectual the raison d’etre of a new phase of evolution, in his works like The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga..
The world is waking up to the Master’s vision. As an eminent philosopher of our time, Ken Wilber says,
“Sri Aurobindo’s message is far ahead of its time…The world remains divided into two highly contentious camps: those who believe in the ancient wisdom traditions and those who believe in the modern scientific view of evolution. Both of these views are terribly partial…But as Sri Aurobindo saw, probably more clearly than anybody before or since — the scientific account of evolution…cannot even begin to explain the extraordinary series of transformations that brought forth life from matter and mind from life and that is destined to bring forth Higher Mind, Overmind and Supermind.”
Sri Aurobindo’s destination, Pondicherry, also became his voyage to the destiny of mankind, a destiny about which, to quote from his epic Savitri:
A few shall know what none yet understands,/God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep,/For man shall not know the hour till its coming/And belief shall be not till the work is done.