In a message to the nation, broadcast from the All-India Radio on August 15, 1947, Sri Aurobindo spoke about some of his dreams. He dreamt of a free and united country without which India could not fulfil her true destiny. But what the country got was Partition, accompanied by riots, rapes, plunder, loss of half-a-million lives and displacement of another one-and-a-half-million people. Sri Aurobindo had hoped that Partition would go. But it has not gone. Instead, the dimensions and depth of the dividing lines have increased. Terrorism, subversion, separatism and differences of caste and creed have made a dangerous headway.
The second dream which Sri Aurobindo entertained was that India, with a vast treasure of spirituality would become the epicentre for advancement of the "eternal religion" — Sanatana Dharma. But where is this religion to be found in India today? Who is preaching and practicing it? What, in fact, is seen all over the country, is an ever increasing tribe of "peddlers of arrant nonsense" who are draining out its core.
A moral chaos has engulfed the nation and the culture of corruption is spreading fast. Viewed as one of the top 10 most corrupt countries in the world, India now runs the risk of being destroyed by the virus of corruption in her politics, administration and economy.
As a class, India’s elected representatives are very similar to the description of a typical legislature given earlier by Sri Aurobindo: "He does not represent the soul of a people or its aspirations. What he does usually represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about him, and these he represents well enough, as well as a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity and pretence. Great issues often come to him for decision, but he does not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on his lips, but they become rapidly the claptrap of a party".
Look at the Indian Parliament. What an uninspiring spectacle it is. The 14th Lok Sabha, for example, had about 100 members who were involved in criminal cases — 30 of whom had been charged with murder, dacoity, rape and extortion. Could an institution, dominated by such men and women, provide a national environment conducive to the realisation of Sri Aurobindo’s great vision?
The third dream of Sri Aurobindo was "a worldwide union forming the outer basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind". Such a union, he thought, was necessary not only because it was inherent in nature but also because its absence would imperil the freedom of smaller nations and threaten the security of bigger ones. He hoped that India would develop a "larger statesmanship" and play an effective role in this regard at the international level.
India, instead of playing a meaningful role in ushering in "a fair, bright and noble life for all mankind", has jumped on the bandwagon of those who, under the cover of globalisation, deregulation and other ingredients of neo-liberalism, are creating serious imbalances not only in the economy but also in the environment and ecology. In India itself, besides degradation and depletion of natural resources, wide disparities in income and lifestyle have come about.
Another dream of Sri Aurobindo pertained to the spiritual gifts which India was capable of delivering to the world. He had noted that Indian spirituality, its message as well as its psychic practices, were entering Europe and America. His hope was that this process, in times to come, would get enlarged. But this hope, too, does not seem to be materialising. Though yogic practices have made some headway, their overall impact has been marginal. The position with regard to spiritual teachings is even less reassuring. This is a natural outcome of the fact that India is now neither nursing her ancient nobility of temper nor developing a style of life based upon the fundamentals of her true spirituality. In light of the above analysis, a few crucial questions need to be answered.
- How is it that all the dreams, mentioned by Sri Aurobindo in his Independence day message, have virtually disappeared from the collective memory of the nation?
- Why did the steering wheel of India’s destiny remain only for a short time in the hands of those who were sensitive to the need for "giving expression to her long suppressed soul" and how did the same wheel soon come into the hands of those who have been wholly oblivious of such a need and are destroying practically every positive item of India’s heritage?
All this has happened because the post-1947 leadership by and large, failed to do what it should have done as top priority. It should have rekindled the power of the Indian mind, reawakened the purity of India’s soul and created a mental climate in which a rich crop of karamyogis could grow and a nobility-oriented culture emerge. Along with India’s Constitution and five-year plans for economic development, it could have formulated a national regeneration programme, by way of which the country should have been relieved of all the garbage that had collected in her courtyard during the long period of decay and degeneration of her civilisation, and at the same time dug out the buried treasures of her life-nurturing and life-elevating ideals towards which spiritual giants, such as Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore and Sri Aurobindo had repeatedly pointed their fingers.
The leadership should have realised that without providing inner energy, shakti, the institutions created by the Constitution could not develop the animation that was needed to keep them clean, creative and constructive.
As early as 1914, Sri Aurobindo, in a press interview, had significantly pointed out: "I am convinced that a spiritual awakening is the most important condition of our national greatness". Regrettably, such sane pieces of advice were all but ignored by the post-1947 leadership. The disastrous consequences of this lapse are that the moral fabric of society, weak as it already was, has been further shredded and Sri Aurobindo’s dreams remained elusive. Jagmohan is a former governor of J&K and a former Union minister