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.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On the centenary day — May 30, 2009 — of Uttarpara speech, work with a renewed sense of mission

Saturday, May 30, 2009 Ensure that the vision of the great prophet of the 20th century is fulfiled The task is Herculean, the goal is distant and would take a long time to traverse Let all students and teachers of Sri Aurobindo’s school of thought resolve that they would not lose heart Renaissance man of India Deccan Chronicle May 30th, 2009 By Jagmohan

On the centenary day — May 30, 2009 — of Uttarpara speech, let all students and teachers of Sri Aurobindo’s school of thought resolve that they would not lose heart on account of current dismal scenario and would work with a renewed sense of mission to ensure that the vision of the great prophet of the 20th century is fulfiled. Undoubtedly, the task is Herculean, the goal is distant and would take a long time to traverse. But let us not forget that even the longest journey begins with the first step. Jagmohan is a former governor of J&K anda former Union minister 1 2 3 next › last » Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 1:25 PM 1:39 PM 1:43 PM 1:45 PM

Sri Aurobindo’s Opposition Why the Indian establishment resisted him, MANGESH V. NADKARNI The Indian Express Thursday, March 21, 2002 12:17 PM

E Pluribus Unum by Lori Tompkins The Vedic realization of the One that is equal to the Many has been recalled by Indian sage Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950):. ‘We see that the Absolute, the Self, the Divine, the Spirit, the Being is One; the Transcendental is one, ... 12:17 PM

Friday, May 29, 2009

CPI joined various SVD Governments in several States, some headed by Jana Sangh leaders

Home About Advaniji Advaniji's Autobiography Reviews Candidly, Advani
Candidly, Advani By Chandan Mitra
Agenda (Sunday Pioneer) Saturday, 12 April 2008

I was present, along with Swapan Dasgupta and a few other journalists, on the terrace of Ram Katha Kunj where the BJP-VHP leadership was assembled on December 6, 1992, appealing to unruly kar sevaks to descend from the structure's domes. I vividly recall meeting Advani in the evening after the structure had been demolished. He sat alone in a ground floor room with only a flickering candle for company. Characteristically wringing his hands in despair he bid farewell to us, urging we exercised caution on the return journey to Lucknow. By then, news of the Kalyan Singh Government's dismissal had arrived and the leader of the most spectacular mass mobilisation India has witnessed since Independence was anticipating arrest. "This is the saddest day in my life," he told us, admonishing someone who suggested that the "deed" could politically benefit the BJP.

I recall driving back to Delhi next day, stopped on the way by exultant crowds shouting "Jai Shri Ram" and "Saugandh Ram ki khaatey hain, Mandir wahin banayenge". On December 7 evening, I wrote a report titled "Control room that had no control" in the Hindustan Times, whose Associate Editor I then was. To date, I insist it was the only faithful report of what the BJP-VHP leadership did in trying to avert the denouement, without success. But that article marked the beginning of my own vilification by a section of media colleagues belonging mainly to the Leftist persuasion.

If, however, I were Advani I would not have bent backwards to answer this vilification campaign and the canards spread to demonise him as a closet Fascist. At many points in the book, I got the impression that, deeply stung by this unfair portrayal of his persona by sections of the media and academia, Advani tries a little too hard to put the record straight. As he himself explains in earlier chapters of the monograph, Sardar Patel was similarly lampooned "mainly by Communists" for his resolute championship of the nationalist perspective and for frequently cautioning Nehru who pursued hopelessly faulty policies over Kashmir and China. But that misconception about Patel has not changed even 55 years after his death: Communist historians are an incorrigible lot.

Advani skillfully brings out the visceral hatred Nehru had of the RSS and Jana Sangh, which conflicted with Gandhiji's overt appreciation of the RSS's patriotic role. Advani points out that Gandhiji addressed an RSS gathering a few days before his heinous murder. The Mahatma even blessed Syama Prasad Mookerjee, insisting on his induction into Nehru's first Cabinet and telling Mookerjee, "Patel is a Hindu-minded person in the Congress and you are a Congress-minded person in the Hindu Sabha."

Indeed, the initial chapters of the book make fascinating reading because of Advani's extraordinarily sharp memory, which enables him to recall minute details of national events and the trying circumstances in which the Jana Sangh functioned in its early years. He has faithfully recounted remarkable anecdotes relating to his childhood and early youth in once-tranquil Karachi, his travails (and long travels on camelback in Rajasthan as RSS pracharak) as a Sangh activist and later, as assistant to Vajpayee. He also details events and dialogues that shaped his own intellectual understanding of India through interactions with Guruji Golwalkar and more significantly Deendayal Upadhyay -- men whose contribution to the making of modern India has been so cruelly distorted by Communist and fellow-traveller pro-Congress commentators.

I need not go into his description of life in jail during the Emergency and circumstances leading to the rise and fall of the Janata Party -- an unwieldy experiment that, in hindsight, was predestined to fail. Advani has also harshly recalled the next, equally short-lived, Janata experiment under VP Singh, whom he does not hesitate to categorise as a hypocrite. These narratives have particular relevance to understanding how and why the Congress monolith gradually crumbled, eventually leading to the formation of the first viable non-Congress alternative in the form of the BJP-led NDA.

I was particularly struck by his recollection of the Jana Sangh's first foray into alliance politics with (hold your breath!) the Communists. In the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections of 1958, the Congress won 27 seats, Jana Sangh 25 and CPI 8. The CPI agreed to back the Congress in the House of 80 if Aruna Asaf Ali was made Mayor. This happened, but the alliance collapsed in a year and the Jana Sangh entered into a deal with the CPI, agreeing to share the Mayor's post on a one-year rotational basis (we thought the Mayawati experiment of 1997 was the first rotational arrangement!). The CPI-Jana Sangh alliance stood the test of time, Kidar Nath Sahni succeeding Aruna Asaf Ali as Mayor after the first year of the deal.

Of course, the CPI also joined various Samyukta Vidhayak Dal Governments in several States, some headed by Jana Sangh leaders, after the Congress's rout in North India in 1967. And later, it is well known that the CPI, CPI(M) and BJP supported the VP Singh regime from outside, sharing a fortnightly dinner with Janata Dal leaders by way of an informal coordinating committee meeting. Advani uses these examples to highlight his party's political flexibility, pointing out that the BJP has grown because from its Jana Sangh days it never fell into the "untouchability" trap. Every such alliance only helped the party expand further, eventually resulting in its emergence as the alternative pole of Indian politics and the country's second-biggest political party.

[My Country My Life is not just a great addition to the celebrated list of political autobiographies, but a fascinating record of post-Independence Indian politics. I recommend it wholeheartedly to every caring, conscientious and enlightened Indian.]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sri Aurobindo spared no one, not even Gandhi for whom he reserved his harshest criticism

Election 2009: The BJP got what it deserved – III
Abandoning Kurukshetra before the war is won Radha Rajan 20 May 2009

The BJP’s loss in 2004 cast a pall of gloom over Hindu nationalists; for some of us even in 2004, the gloom came with intense anger. Five years later, the BJP’s loss in 2009 has caused more anger than gloom because five years is a long time for a determined person wielding state power to implement several agendas; and the BJP, criminally culpable for allowing the destructive ambitions of a few to subvert its raison d’etre, handed the Hindu nation back into the hands of the Italian Christian for another term of five years. The Congress, a British creature, may take Sonia Gandhi in its stride and look upon her as another Wedderburn or Hume, but for the Hindu nation, it was alien and oppressive colonial rule all over again. It is this knowledge that causes the despondency and the rage. There is an African-American adage which goes likes this: If you are cheated once, shame on them; if you are cheated again, shame on you.

Hindus, who are familiar only with Aurobindo the spiritualist, would be astonished by the content of a hitherto less known corpus of his political writings; Aurobindo’s writings from 1893 until 1908 are those of an angry Hindu nationalist. But it was an anger that produced his finest writings, a fiery, eternally inspirational nationalism that raises the mind from despondency and prepares it for war. Aurobindo was at war as much with the Indian National Congress of which he was a part, as he was with the colonial British government. He spared no one whom he considered serving the nation ill, organization or individuals – the Indian National Congress, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Dadabhai Naoroji, Surendranath Banerjea – Aurobindo spared no one, not even Gandhi for whom he reserved his harshest criticism.

In 1903 Aurobindo was confronted by similar heartache and paralyzing gloom that we see descended on us today. But with characteristic anger, he denied himself and us the luxury of depression.

Many of us, utterly overcome by Tamas, the dark and heavy demon of inertia, are saying nowadays that it is impossible; that India is decayed, bloodless and lifeless, too weak ever to recover; that our race is doomed to extinction. It is a foolish and idle saying. No man or nation need be weak unless he chooses; no man or nation need perish unless he deliberately chooses extinction. (Bhawani Mandir, India can be Reborn, page 65. Bhawani Mandir sometimes referred to as a ‘tract’ and sometimes as ‘pamphlet’ was written in 1903)

It was obvious to Aurobindo in 1903 that the direction in which these leaders were taking the INC was heading nowhere and spelt only doom for the Hindu nation and that is why, exasperated by the general wimpishness of the leaders of the INC, he roared in anger – Politics is the work of the kshatriya; by implication Aurobindo meant politics was not for the faint-hearted or the opportunist. He also implied that politics essentially is the ever-preparedness for war. The brilliance of Aurobindo’s political writings is in the brevity. The sutra, Politics is the work of the kshatriya, is pregnant with an entire treatise on rajadharma and rajanithi.

That which Aurobindo saw in 1903, Hedgewar saw in 1920. On the eve of the Nagpur Congress, Dr. Hedgewar with Dr. Moonje, realizing with great disquiet the direction in which Gandhi was leading the INC, pleaded with Aurobindo to return to active politics and assume Presidentship of the Nagpur Congress. But Aurobindo, who for inexplicable reasons chose to abandon his political Kurukshetra to seek refuge in the safe haven of the French colony of Pondicherry, refused to return and Gandhi led the freedom struggle towards vivisection.

Election 2009: The BJP got what it deserved – IV
RSS – unwilling parent Radha Rajan 22 May 2009

As Aurobindo put it in Bhawani Mandir, “Our beginnings are mighty, but they have neither sequel nor fruit”. The BJP had stopped delivering; there was no sequel to 6 December 1992, and no fruit after RSS labour; there was only wishful thinking. Hindu fury which erupted against Muslim offence over the Amarnath yatra did not yield benefits for the BJP even in Jammu. The RSS must ask itself why. The Somnath-Ayodhya BJP rath of the 1990s decade is today only a rocking horse.

“The wish to be reborn we have in abundance, there is no deficiency there. How many attempts have been made, how many movements have been begun, in religion, in society, in politics! But the same fate has overtaken or is preparing to overtake them all. They flourish for a moment, then the impulse wanes, the fire dies out, and if they endure, it is only as empty shells, forms from which the Brahma has gone or in which it lies overpowered with Tamas and inert” (Aurobindo, Bhawani Mandir).

The Hindu nation must rue the day Aurobindo abandoned our Kurukshetra in 1909; the RSS must take some visibly decisive step to stem the rot in the Parivar if Hindus have to stop thinking the RSS too has deserted the war; or Aurobindo’s lament about great beginnings and empty shells, true as they are of the BJP today, may become just as true of the RSS if it fails to act now.

But if the RSS has to act, there has to be a re-orientation of its goals, its methods. It is not course correction that is required of the RSS; it is altering the course itself. The RSS has not lost direction, it is still plodding along on the same path as it had marked for itself in 1925; it needs new goals and new roads. [...]

The Bharatiya Jana Sangh went into a limbo after Dr. Mukherjee’s death. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, thinker and scholar, was also not a kshatriya. Integral humanism cannot and therefore did not put a Hindu face to Indian polity; neither did it make the effort to study the ideal nature of polity to protect the Hindu rashtra. Hindu intellectualism had no clear and well-defined goal. It produced nothing of value by way of political doctrines and theories to serve the Hindu nation.

Hedgewar, Golwalkar, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and even other intellectuals in the parivar may all be described as social thinkers, but they had no political orientation and were therefore not political ideologues in the same mould as Aurobindo and Savarkar. At least, their political philosophy did not set pursuit of state power to protect and defend the Hindu nation from all threats to its national character. They did not think state power was important; not as important as social transformation. The RSS made social transformation and capturing state power as naturally mutually exclusive goals. RSS ideologues believed in and promoted the idea that politics like power and money corrupts; and so an ordinary swayamsevak is not imparted the training to handle big money, big power and big politics. 22nd May, 2009. The author is Editor. www.vigilonline Radha Rajan Election 2009: BJP got what it deserved - I 17 May 2009 Election 2009 – The BJP got what it deserved - II 18 May 2009

BJP at crossroads: Back to basics or irrelevance?
Virendra Parekh 25 May 2009

"Many of us, utterly overcome by Tamas, the dark and heavy demon of inertia, are saying nowadays that it is impossible, that India is decayed, bloodless and lifeless, too weak ever to recover; that our race is doomed to extinction. It is a foolish and idle saying. No man or nation need be weak unless he so chooses, no man or nation need perish unless he deliberately chooses extinction” – Aurobindo, “Bhawani Mandir” ...

Finally, BJP must prepare for a long haul and develop the strength to sustain the effort. As Sri Aurobindo put it,

"in India the breath moves slowly, the afflatus is long in coming. India, the ancient Mother, is indeed striving to be reborn, striving with agony and tears, but she strives in vain. What ails her, she who is after all so vast and might be so strong? There is surely some enormous defect, something vital is wanting in us, nor is it difficult to lay our finger on the spot. We have all things else, but we are empty of strength, void of energy. We have abandoned Shakti and are therefore abandoned by Shakti."

In strengthening the motherland, BJP will strengthen itself. In reclaiming its glory, it will glorify itself. The author is Executive Editor, Corporate India, and lives in Mumbai

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Towards an Integrative Pluralism

Shopping Cart Home Routledge.com
Organizational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory
By Mark Edwards
Price: $110.00 Add to Cart ISBN: 978-0-415-80173-7 Binding: Hardback Published by: Routledge
Publication Date:
15th August 2009 (Available for Pre-order) Pages: 256

About the Book
During the 21st century organizations will undergo a level of radical and global change that has rarely been seen before. This transformation will come as a result of the environmental, social and economic challenges that now confront organisations in all their activities. But are our understandings and theories of change up to the task of meeting these challenges? Will we be able to develop sustaining visions of how organizations might contribute to the long-term viability of our interdependent global communities? Organizational Transformation for Sustainability: An Integral Metatheory offers some innovative answers to the big questions involved in organizational sustainability and the radical changes that organizations will need to undergo as we move into the third millennium. This new approach comes from the emerging field of integral metatheory.

Edwards shows how a "Big Picture" view of organisational transformation can contribute to our understanding of, and search for, organisational sustainability. There are four key themes to the book: i) the need for integrative metatheories for organisational change; ii) the development of a general research method for building metatheory; iii) the description of an integral metatheory for organisational sustainability; and iv) the discussion of the implications of this metatheory for organisational change and social policy regarding sustainability. This book brings a unique and important orienting perspective to these issues.

Table of Contents
Introduction - Towards an Integrative Pluralism; 1: The Need for Metatheory in the Study of Organisational Transformation; 2: Metatheoretical Domain and Definitions; 3: The View from Here and Here and ... ; 4: Stories of Transformation; 5: A General Method for Metatheory Building; 6: A Multiparadigm Review and Analysis of Theories of Organisational Transformation; 7: The Web of Relationships; 8: An Integral Metatheory for Organisational Transformation; 9: Implications and Evaluation; 10: Metatheory and the Crisis. About the Author(s)

Mark Edwards is a registered psychologist with a Masters degree in developmental psychology and a PhD (awarded distinction) in organisation theory from the University of Western Australia. He has worked with people with disabilities for more than 20 years. He currently teaches business ethics at the Business School, University of Western Australia and metatheoretical studies at the John F. Kennedy University in California. His academic publications have been in the areas of futures studies, leadership, management and organisation theory and integral metatheory. © 2007 Routledge, member of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa Business

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I will come back to you, Puducherry

Sunrise in Puducherry Livemint - Delhi, Delhi, India What stands out within the Park Guest House, which is run by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, is the absolute separation of the “religious” from the “spiritual”. ... Posted: Tue, May 12 2009. 9:10 PM IST Sunrise in Puducherry
In the twilight, I venture out on foot for my first real tete-a-tete with Puducherry
Saionton Basu

Sitting on the sea-facing Park Guest House balcony, one can get lost in a zillion thoughts. Thoughts about beauty, thoughts about love, thoughts about...about thoughts. The sheer resplendence of the sun setting into the Puducherry horizon is enough to make you want to live for another “thousand suns”. The glistening waters of the Bay of Bengal in the last rays of the sun rejuvenate your eyes unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. I have never in 27 years felt so refreshed by something so mundane (that is, in Delhi).

What stands out within the Park Guest House, which is run by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, is the absolute separation of the “religious” from the “spiritual”. While the “religious” has been strictly confined to the private sphere, avenues for spiritual exploration—such as discussion forums, yoga sessions and spaces for contemplation—have been accentuated. This is in sharp contrast to the aggressive, in-your-face display of religious sanctimony with tridents, idols and garlands that is characteristic of the religious hot spots that are literally littered along the course of many of our rivers.

In the twilight, I venture out on foot for my first real tete-a-tete with Puducherry. I don’t have to go far. I meet a couple from Austria within the precincts of the guest house—they are on a long honeymoon, and have been here since last week. “It’s the most spiritually enriching place I have ever seen,” blushes Catherine. “Join us for dinner man,” invites Polkov. I jump at the prospect of enjoying their charming company, and also for a furtive sip of red wine. I gather through a mouthful of steak that Catherine’s mother, too, had come to Puducherry 30 years ago for her honeymoon. Catherine and Polkov, on a rather unorthodox honeymoon, have been cycling through south India for the last two months. Both took up handsome voluntary redundancy packages from their respective investment banks in the run-up to the credit crunch, and have decided to spend time travelling and rediscovering their purpose in life. What they would definitely not go back to is the trading floor at some European investment bank.

In the middle of a meal of amazing sear steak accompanied by Bosca Cabernet Rouge on the verandah of Le Club, it suddenly dawns upon me that the credit crunch will actually present an enormous opportunity for people who were not really into their day jobs to refocus their energies on something that is truly their calling. Talking to Catherine and Polkov also provided me enormous perspective on the differences in the approach of Europeans and Indians in dealing with the credit crunch. I learn that scores of their friends who were similarly placed have spread their wings and headed to different places for prolonged periods of time for similar purposes. I would look forward to the day when such people find what they are looking for and return to their abodes to commence new projects with renewed gumption. Suddenly, the credit crunch doesn’t look all that bad to me.

Back from a most engaging conversation with my new-found Austrian friends, I sleep on a comfortable cot by the window, dreaming of a seaside place of my own. A Puducherry of my own. I wake up at 3am and plonk myself on a lounge chair on the balcony. I have my camera around my neck. Sleep is out of my eyes, and this is the first time I have ever gotten up at 3am. Well, I guess it has been a journey of many firsts.

Dawn breaks and darkness gradually recedes beyond the sea line. I have my eyes focused on the viewfinder, and my mind is rolling. The clouds on the blue horizon fly like doves all around. Far away, at the jetty, I see a fishing boat. Everything comes to a standstill—the sun breaks through. My mind captures it all but not my camera. But who’s complaining? I have lived through one of the most fascinating and fabulous moments of my life. I will come back to you, Puducherry. Sometime, when I have grown to savour and relive this again. Saionton Basu is an advocate in the Supreme Court of India. Comment at otherviews@livemint.com Home Our View Columnists

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Journey To The City of Dawn based in Auroville, India produced by Paul Kakert

Earthpages.ca – Think Free A whole new way to learn
Auroville April 21, 2009 by
Earthpages.ca Auroville: Under Construction by Premasagar
Auroville

The community founded by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) lying just outside of Pondicherry, India, which seems to be a curious hybrid of the old and the new. Young Indian artists migrate there to pursue careers in film and video production, while international seekers use it as a retreat center for meditation and alternative community living.

Lonely Planet’s TV host Justine Shapiro visited Auroville and seemed to imply that it was a haven for foreigners seeking enlightenment while exploiting local laborers. Whether or not this is a fair assessment remains unclear.

On the Web:
“Scenes from the documentary Journey To The City of Dawn based in Auroville, India produced by Paul Kakert of edpvideo.com and Storytellers International. Visit the film’s website at www.cityofdawn.com.”

Add more, fix errors, suggest edits or voice your opinion by commenting
Posted in
A Tagged , , , , , , 3 Comments 3 Responses
on
June 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm Reply Alina Silva
What are all the westerners doing in a deserted are in India?? That’s quite curious.
on June 8, 2008 at 12:42 pm Reply Earthpages.ca
Why does anybody do anything? The answer probably differs for each individual.
on April 21, 2009 at 11:16 am Reply documentarytv
Auroville is an interesting mix of people. I am producing a documentary on Auroville. Visit CityofDawn.com to find out more. If you Subscribe for Free at DocumentaryTV.com you will receive an email when the film is released.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sri Aurobindo claimed to bring us new srutis in recent times

Colonialism did not die: It only reinvented itself « Indian Realist 7 May 2009 by sanjaychoudhry Rajiv Malhotra’s brilliant analysis of neo-colonialism and how various tricks are used by Westerners to ensure that Hindu minds remain in a cage even today.
The Axis of Neocolonialism
By Rajiv Malhotra Srutis are not frozen canons either, as there is no unique or final revelation, in contrast with the Abrahamic revelations – Sri Aurobindo claimed to bring us new srutis in recent times, and so have many others. ... under Uncategorized 1 Comment VoPMay 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm
sanjay,
I am glad you put this up as a post. I have recommended this to be the #1 reading for all Indian, Indian-Americans I come across to understand the big picture. For the curious, the 1300+ comments that followed when it was first published on Sulekha are also worth taking a look.

http://rajivmalhotra.sulekha.com/blog/post/2002/07/the-axis-of-neocolonialism/comments.htm Reply

The hallmark of a good education in an American liberal arts college is based on what is called the “Western Classics.” A study of Western Civilization starts with the study of ancient Greek and Semitic thought, before moving on to Classical Roman, modern European, and finally, American thought. Such an intellectual foundation is deemed important for one to be considered a well educated person in the humanities, regardless of one's religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and regardless of one's specific academic major...

I find similar deep respect and dignity for the Western Classics at Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, University of Chicago, Yale, Oxford, Paris, and virtually every top Western university. The benefit is not only intended for those specializing in the Western Classics. The Western Classics are in the core curriculum of many colleges, regardless of specialization.

Marginalization of Indian Classics in India's Higher Education:
It is important to carefully read the above rationale for the Western Classics program, so as to appreciate why this is deemed so relevant today in Western technologically advanced secular democracies, such as the United States.
Compare this to the tragic state of Indian Classics in India's own higher education. The equivalent to the Greek Classics would be India's Vedas, Puranas and other Sanskrit, Pali and Tamil texts. In a comparable education system, students would learn about Pannini, Patanjali, Buddha, Nagarjuna, Dharmakirti, Bharthrhari, Shankara, Abhinavgupta, Bharata Muni, Gangesh, Kalidasa, Aryabhata and dozens of other great classical thinkers produced by India.
Unfortunately, in the name of progress, modernity, and political correctness, Indian Classics have been virtually banished from India's higher education – a continuation of the policy on Indian education started by the famous Lord Macaulay over 150 years ago.. While India supplies information technology, biotechnology, corporate management, medical and other professionals to the most prestigious organizations of the world[4], it is unable to supply world-class scholars in the disciplines of its own traditions.
The reason is that the nexus of Indology studies remains in Western universities, almost as though decolonization had never happened. The top rated academic journals and conferences on Indology and India related fields are in the West, run largely by Western scholars, and funded by Western private, church and governmental interests. The best research libraries in the Indian Classics are in the West. Religious Studies is the hottest academic field in the humanities in the US, and is growing at a very fast rate, but is non-existent as a discipline in Indian universities.
Therefore, to get an internationally competitive PhD in Sanskrit, Indian Classics, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Jainism Studies, with the highest rigor in methods and theory, such that one may get an academic job in this specialty in a leading international university, a student is forced to go to a US, UK or German university.
Hence, one cannot find qualified experts of Indian religions in India, in order to debate Western scholars. The few Indian scholars within the Western academy who are educated in the Indian Classics, are either below the glass ceiling, or else are politically cautious given the risks to their career ambitions.

Furthermore, the marginalization of India's heritage in its education system, particularly in the English medium system that produces most of the leaders of modern Indian society, has resulted in the leaders of industry, civil service, media and education becoming a culturally lost generation. The result is today's self-alienated, cynical youth prevalent in many places, especially in elite positions[5].
The justification given for the study of Greek Classics in the West is not that they are considered 100% “true” today (whatever that might mean), or that better thought has not superceded them. Rather, the purpose is to understand the history of the Western mind, so that students may lay a sound and strong foundation for their thinking in order to move this civilization further into the future. The Western Classics provide the Western intellectual with the resources to be a serious thinker for today.
It is also about the identity of Westerners and their culture. Great emphasis is placed on the integrity of an old “Western Civilization” traced back to Greece (although the massive inputs received from non-Western sources are carefully suppressed – see Part 3). This (re)construction of Western Civilization is an ongoing project, and is considered very critical for the survival and prosperity of what is known as the “West”.
One should apply this logic to Classical Indian thought and see parallel benefits for India's renaissance. Unfortunately, a great disservice has been done to Indian Classics by equating them with religion. Arguably, the most comprehensive and challenging knowledge representation systems available outside the West are contained in the Indian Classics. The sheer magnitude of India's Classics is over one hundred times as large as that of the Greek Classics. For a brief glimpse into some of the potentials based on the recovery of Indian Classics, see the web site for an academic Colloquium on this very subject[6]. Yet, whatever little is taught about Indian Classics tends to suffer from its ghetto like positioning as “South Asian,” whereas Greek thought is positioned as being “universal.” The dominant (European) culture, into which Greek thought became assimilated, claims to own the logos (the rational principle that governs and develops the universe), while non-Western peoples' indigenous ideas are mythos and exotica. Greek Classics are taught in mainstream academia and are not relegated to a particular ethnicity or “area” of the world. Indian Classics, on the other hand, are considered relevant mainly as a way to understand what is unique (i.e. peculiar) about Indian ethnicity.
Furthermore, Greek thought is referenced as being of Greek origin, whereas, when Indian ideas are appropriated, their Indian origin is erased over time: real knowledge is implied to come only from Western sources; all others must wait till they get legitimized by being claimed as Western. This is because the knowledge representation system is under Western control, and hence they are the final arbiters of “what” belongs “where.” Only when something falls under Western control does it become legitimate.

Indic Traditions in the Western Academia:
Interestingly, Western academia hires many Indian scholars in the departments of English Literature, History, Philosophy, Sociology, and Political Science, amongst other humanities. However, while the Western audiences think of them as spokespersons for Indic Traditions, the vast majority of them are unwilling and unqualified to explain Indian Classics seriously. But their Western hosts and colleagues are usually unaware of this shortcoming in most Indian scholars. For this deficiency to become public about an Indian scholar is tantamount to a minor scandal, because they derive much of their clout based on the false perception that they are representatives of Indic thought.
To cover up their ignorance, many elitist Indians resort to a combination of Eurocentric and Marxist rhetoric about Indian civilization – the caste, cows and curry theory of India. They quote Orientalist accounts of India and even base their own scholarship as extensions and derivatives of colonial writings superimposed with Marxism. On the one hand, postcolonial studies are at the very heart of their specialization and career paths. But on the other hand, they are only trained in using Eurocentric hermeneutics and methods. Hence, they can deconstruct Eurocentrism with Western methods, but are completely inept at applying Indic categories and perspectives. They cannot replace the Eurocentric representation model with anything indigenous from India. Postcolonial studies often end up as Orientalism by the neocolonized.

Contrast this with Arab scholars, such as Edward Said and Abu-Lughod, who have led the deconstruction of Eurocentrism, not only generically but also specifically on behalf of Islamic and Arab civilizations. Consequently, it is now becoming fashionable to replace Eurocentric history textbooks with accounts centered around the Middle East, going back to the Middle Ages. Likewise, Nell Painter is amongst the leading critics of Eurocentrism on behalf of Africans. Enrique Dussel is amongst many prominent Latin Americans attacking Eurocentric models.
However, in the case of a specifically Indic deconstruction of Eurocentrism, some of the finest academic challenge is often being delivered by Westerners, such has Ronald Inden and Nicholas Dirks. Many Indian scholars who are entrenched in the Western academe of humanities seem reluctant to risk their loyalty ratings, and in many cases, are simply too ignorant of their own heritage and invested in attacking this heritage.
While pockets of such Indic challenges to Eurocentrism do exist, they are not empowered to revolutionize the fields of religion, history, sociology, anthropology, women's studies, Asian Studies, literature and art. They occasionally get their symbolic 'day in court,' but it is usually not the center court, where it really matters[7].

Indian Secularism ¹ American Secularism:
One serious misunderstanding amongst this milieu of elitist Indians has been their confused interpretation of secularism. The USA is a good nation with which to compare India in matters of secularism. It does not define secularism as alienation from its traditions. Even though tracing back American civilization to the Greeks is a big stretch, this link and continuity is emphasized. Certainly, the Judeo-Christian foundation of Americanism is made loud and clear. Recently, there is a new movement to rediscover the Native American heritage as being part of the New Americanism. On the other hand, secularism in India has come to mean anti Indic Traditions, especially anti-Hinduism.
To get certified that they are secular, many Indians line up to prove how they hate Hinduism, or at least how distant they are from what they perceive as a denigrated identity. The historian, Ronald Inden explains the root cause of this dis-ease:

Nehru's India was supposed to be committed to 'secularism'. The idea here in its weaker publicly reiterated form was that the government would not interfere in 'personal' religious matters and would create circumstances in which people of all religions could live in harmony. The idea in its stronger, unofficiallv stated form was that in order to modernize, India would have to set aside centuries of traditional religious ignorance and superstition and eventually eliminate Hinduism and Islam from people's lives altogether. After Independence, governments implemented secularism mostly by refusing to recognize the religious pasts of Indian nationalism, whether Hindu or Muslim, and at the same time (inconsistently) by retaining Muslim 'personal law'[8].

Friday, May 08, 2009

Minoo Masani had in mind a liberal party

On Watching Elections On TV from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik. Anyway, it was great to read SV Raju today talking of Minoo Masani and his gang fighting the 1957 elections as independents. That was politics based on the philosophy of classical liberalism. The story should inspire us in these otherwise bleak and uninspiring times. I was born in 1957, and it was heartening to note that we have some real old-timers around, on our side. Keep it up, Mr. Raju.

Posted: Thu, May 7 2009. Unaffiliated: the case of 1957
Despite Prime Minister Singh’s attack on independents, history demonstrates they can aid Indian democracy S.V. Raju

By 1956, already disturbed by the sharp turn to the “Left” that the country was taking as a result of the second five-year Plan, with its emphasis on the state occupying the “commanding heights of the economy”, and the increasing influence of the Communists in the governance of the country, Minoo Masani and a few of his peers in industry and commerce were convinced that (to quote Masani) “the time had come for a new political initiative by which the monopoly enjoyed by the various socialist and Communist parties could be broken”.

What he had in mind was a liberal party with policies and programmes distinct from other political parties that were merely “various versions of the collectivist paradise, which had been presented to the Indian people since independence”. Always a man who rarely allowed too much time to lapse between thought and action, Masani, who was at that time a senior executive in the Tata organization, felt that with the general election due in 1957 around the corner, there wasn’t enough time to organize such a new party.

Along with Col Leslie Sawhny, his colleague in Tata who had taken premature retirement from the army, he persuaded some of their friends to stand as independent candidates in the 1957 election to the Lok Sabha. These friends, all industrialists, businessmen and professionals, were Sir Homi Mody, a banker and an adviser to the house of Tatas; S. Goyal, a businessman; R.V. Murthy, a journalist and editor of Commerce, a popular economic weekly; H.R. Pardivala, a well-known lawyer; and Eric D’Costa, a journalist and editor of the Eastern Economist, and pioneer in the now flourishing business of opinion polls.

Minoo Masani had in mind a liberal party with policies distinct from other political parties

These gentlemen, though in effect independents, contested the election on the symbols of various recognized regional parties to improve their chances of winning. For instance, Masani contested from Ranchi on the symbol of the then Jharkhand Party, Mody and Murthy on the symbol of the Ram Rajya Parishad, and so on. The idea was to get into Parliament and sit as independents and not as members of the party whose symbol they had “borrowed”.

Masani was the only one to win.
Back in Parliament (he was a member of the Indian legislative assembly, which later converted itself into the constituent assembly), Masani joined a grouping of independent members of Parliament, which went under the name of the Independent Parliamentary Group. The steering committee of this group consisted of Jaipal Singh, leader of the Jharkhand Party; Frank Anthony, the nominated member representing the Anglo-Indian community and Maharaja Karni Singh of Bikaner. Almost simultaneously, he set in motion efforts to form a liberal democratic party, the primary reasons for his wanting to get back into Parliament.

What happened thereafter is another story—a sequel, if you like.
That Sonia Gandhi seconds Singh’s advice is quite in keeping with her father-in-law’s disapproval of feudal elements, businessmen and capitalists engaging in democratic electoral politics.

For S.V.Raju, the 1957 general election was the first election in which he could, and did, cast his vote. He was later executive secretary of the Swatantra Party at its national headquarters. He is the author of a biography of Minoo Masani published by the National Book Trust. Comments are welcome at theirview@livemint.com

Curiosity about different ways of life, however primitive or exotic

Enlightenment Political Thought and Non-Western Societies
Sultans and Savages By Frederick G. Whelan

Frederick G. Whelan, a leading scholar of Enlightenment political thought, provides an illuminating and incisive interpretation of key 18th- and 19th-century European political thinkers' accounts and assessments of the societies and political institutes of the non-Western world. These writers opened up a major new comparative dimension for political theory and its project both to explain and evaluate different political regimes.

While the intellectual confrontation of European thinkers with alien cultures tended on the whole to confirm Westerners' sense of the superiority of their own institutions, it was also characterized - during the Enlightenment more so than later - by convictions regarding a common humanity and a corresponding sympathetic curiosity about different ways of life, however primitive or exotic they might appear. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of both political philosophy and thought as well as historians of this important period of history. ISBN: 9780415999281 Published May 06 2009 by Routledge.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Auroville is the world’s largest commune

Senior Religion and Philosophy Major at LVC Wins Fulbright Scholarship Lebanon Valley College - Annville, PA, USA Ironically, when Devine first studied Aurobindo in a class in Hinduism at LVC, she was not attracted to it. “I was much more cynical at the time, ...

Senior Religion and Philosophy Major at LVC Wins Fulbright Scholarship Carissa Devine of York was just 15 years old when she became really interested in religion. Her world had turned upside down that year. Her mother and step-father divorced, they lost their home to bankruptcy, and she had to leave her friends at East York High School to return to the Dover School District in York County, where she had attended first grade. “Stuff I had always taken for granted suddenly wasn’t there anymore,” Devine said. Some less resilient teenagers might have buckled. Not Devine.

With things changing so radically for her family, it made her question another institution that she had accepted without question until then—the church. To seek answers, she told her family that she wanted to study religion and philosophy in college. They doubted her resolve would last, but three years later she was accepted to the University of California at Santa Barbara, known as a national leader in the study of religion and philosophy, and to Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., where she found she could study non-Western religions closer to home. Her LVC Vickroy scholarship, which covered half the cost of her tuition, sealed the deal, and Devine enrolled at LVC, where she became a self-described “nerd,” never earning anything less than an “A.”

“I’ve had the best professors here you could ever ask for. Every single one of them has been encouraging and supportive,” she said. And her commitment to her studies has paid off. This week, Devine learned that she has received a Fulbright Scholarship, which will allow her to study in a utopian community in India for 10 months, beginning in August.

The Fulbright Scholar Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, sends 800 professors and professionals from this country abroad each year. To win her Fulbright, Devine competed with graduate students and faculty. She is the second person at Lebanon Valley College to win a Fulbright Scholarship this year. Jared Larson, a visiting instructor of Spanish, plans to use his Fulbright to conduct research at Universidade de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal, on the effects of Muslim immigration in the Iberian Peninsula. Over the last few decades, 16 undergraduates at LVC have won Fulbrights. Fulbright grantees lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Devine will study how the 2,000 people in Auroville in southern India observe and honor the philosophical tenets they say they believe. “I want to get a more authentic reading of how people really feel about it,” she explained. She will live in a guest house in the Auroville, which she says is the world’s largest commune, home to an international community of 2,000 people drawn from 35 countries. Devine is already familiar with the community after making friends there and even living there during part of the time she studied in India during a semester abroad during her junior year. With the help of Dr. Jeffrey Robbins, an associate professor of religion and philosophy at LVC, Devine had found a program at nearby Pondicherry University in Tamil Nadu, India, where she could study the philosophy of one of India’s most prominent figures of the 20th century, Sri Aurobindo. It is his thought, a synthesis of important tenets of both Western and Indian religious and philosophical traditions, that is basis for the ideals of the Auroville commune.

Ironically, when Devine first studied Aurobindo in a class in Hinduism at LVC, she was not attracted to it. “I was much more cynical at the time, and it was too flowery for me—I disregarded it as silly, naive, too metaphysical.” But, once she was in Pondicherry near Auroville, she thought, “I think I want to check this out. While doing that, I fell in love with the ideals,” she said. In addition to interviewing Aurovillians, she will teach at a high-school-level Future School and take courses at the Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research. Eventually, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree program offered by the Peace Corps in international communication. Devine, who graduated from East York High School after returning there for her senior year, is the daughter of Melanie Myers of Dover and Mark Devine of Red Lion, and the step-daughter of Eric IJff of Wrightsville. Return to latest news Lebanon Valley College 101 N. College Avenue Annville, PA 17003

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Freedom means that the government doesn't try to solve the problem of poverty

Brooks channels Hayek (by Russell Roberts) from Cafe Hayek by Russell Roberts
David Brooks, in this provocative critique of Republican Libertarianism, uses the insights of Hayek without mentioning him...

Unfortunately, economists and Republicans and columnists often use "the market" as short hand for economic freedom. But most people take it to mean the stock market or at most, the pecuniary parts of our lives. This mistake is why people ask how poor people can possibly survive if there is more liberty. Or the argument that the market "delivers the goods" but alas, it produces inequality. Some respond by trying to argue that economic freedom does indeed help the poor. They're right but that doesn't comfort the skeptic who is worried abot today's poor person. But freedom doesn't mean poor people starving. Freedom means that the government doesn't try to solve the problem of poverty, but rather it leaves the door open to voluntary community rather than coerced community.

Brooks understands that while pocket book issues are important, they don't inspire. Freedom is important not because it makes us rich but because it makes our lives more meaningful. Not because freedom lets us prosper--it does--but because freedom lets us express all that is important about our humanity. Top down approaches deaden that humanity.

I talk about these issues in The Invisible Heart and The Price of Everything. The Invisible Heart deals with the free-riding problem that arises with voluntary aid to the poor.

For A Life Without Our The State from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
I began my morning reading an interview with George Selgin, the great scholar of money and banking, published in the official magazine of the Richmond Federal Reserve. This is just about as “mainstream” as you can get. So he does scoff at Rothbardian libertarians...

I have also written recently on why “The State should have nothing to do with money, except punish fraud.” This pious statement should also be taken to imply that things are seriously wrong when it is The State that is committing monetary fraud and actually operating in the manner of a “counterfeiter.” [...]

Why not just ask for Free Markets? And let The “demonic” State recede, and go on receding, until it finally withers away?

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Students’ Store transformed into the Shramajivi

A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs
committed to objective, academic, respectful and honest discussions
Apr 26, 2009
Objective History in Four Lessons by Prithwindra Mukherjee Footnotes:

[1] Peter Heehs, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, Columbia University Press, New York, p.xiv, Preface [2] Human Relations, 13 November, 2008 : http://humanrelations.blogspot.com/2008/11 [4] The suffix –da abbreviated from Dada, utilised in Bengal, is a mark of respect for someone senior in age and/ or experience. [7] Profuse information supplied by Arun Chandra Guha (First Spark of Revolution), Rowlatt (Report of the Sedition Committee) and Amiya K. Samanta, ed. (Terrorism in Bengal in 6 volumes) [8] Heehs, The Bomb in Bengal, p.227: in the footnote, Heehs refers to my conversation with Satish Sarkar [9] Political Trouble in India 1907-1917 by J.C. Ker (p.292), Report of the Committee by S.A.T. Rowlatt (Annexure 1/5) and First Spark of Revolution by Arun Chandra Guha (pp.175-177)

[10] Heehs quoted here as references J.C. Ker (Political Trouble in India 1907-1917) and A.C. Guha (First Spark of Revolution [11] Terrorism in Bengal, Amiya K. Samanta (ed.), Government of West Bengal, Calcutta, 1995, Vol. II, p.509 [12] “Nixon’s Report On Revolutionary Organisation” in Terrorism in Bengal, Amiya K. Samanta (ed.), Government of West Bengal, Calcutta, 1995, Vol. II, chapters V (p.544), VIII (p.591), IX (pp.611, 625) etc. [13] Peter Heehs, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, p.xiv, Preface [14] For Version 1, see Item 4, p.5 of this article [15] Peter Heehs, Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography, Oxford University Press (India), 1999, p.69 [16] W. Sealy’s “Connections with Bihar and Orissa” in Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. V, p.63 (Italics by P.M.) [17] Smritikatha, Pondicherry, March 1962, p.32 [18] Peter Heehs, The Bomb in Bengal, p.227 [19] Amiya K. Samanta (ed.), Terrorism in Bengal : A Collection of Documents, Vol. I, 1995, pp.16-17 [20] Suresh Chakra Chakrabarti, op. cit., p.350 [21] PH, The Lives, pp.76-77 (Italics by P.M.) [22] The Lives, pp.74-77: (Italics by P.M.). [23] Terorism in Bengal, Vol. V, p.156 [24] Op. cit., Vol. II, p.519 [25] No.32 Muraripukur Road (Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. II, p.513) [26] W. Sealy gives the full address : “Ghorlas, Raidihi, P.O. Rohini, via Baidtanath, Deoghar”. (Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. V, p.16)

[27] Tegart’s Report on « Calcutta-Baranagar-Howrah Gang » in Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. III, p. 481, gives the address: No. 24 Kansaripara Road (Bhawanipore), where Jatin Mukherjee’s right-hand man Atul Krishna Ghose ran an important mess upto 1915. It continued to be a residence for important members of the secret society. [28] Girijashankar Raychaudhury, sriaurobindo o bangalar svadeshi yuga, Calcutta, 1956, p.644. [29] We maintain the variants of spelling (Jatin/ Jotin; Mukherjee/ Mukharjee etc.) [30] W. Sealy’s Report in Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. V, p.27 [31] W. Sealy’s Report in Terrorism, Vol. V, p.20 [32] Home Polit-Progs A, March 1910, No.33-40, quoted by Sumit Sarkar, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1977, p376 [33] op. cit., pp531-534 [34] Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. V, p.524 [35] Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. II, p.514

[36] First Spark of Revolution, by Arun Chandra Guha, pp116-117. Corroborated by Bhupendranath Datta in dvitîya swadhinata samgram, Navabharat, Calcutta, 1983, pp.168-169. Datta recalls that during the 1906 conference, he enquired about Jatin Mukherjee’s health, convalescing since his bout with the Royal Bengal tiger. [37] Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. II, p.521 [40] Nixon cannot hide his anger while writing : “Jogen Thakur is a disreputable relation of the Tagore family, closely connected with the Ramkrishna Mission.” (Op. cit., Vol. II, p.582).[41] Terrorism in Bengal, Vol. I, pp26-27 [43] Hiren Chakrabarti, Political Protest in Bengal, 1992, p.170

[45] Known by Sri Aurobindo’s intimates as kanishtha papishtha (‘the junior-most sinner’) [cf autobiographical writings by Suresh Chandra Chakravarti], this man will be commissioned by Jatin Mukherjee on 24 January 1910 to accompany Biren Datta-Gupta at the High Court to assassinate Shamsul Alam and to inform Sri Aurobindo that the mission was successful. Soon after this intimation, Sri Aurobindo will receive the command from within to go to Chandernagore. [46] First Spark of Revolution, Arun Chandra Guha, Orient Longman, 1971, p163 [48] Political Protest in Bengal, p.173 [49] India under Morley and Minto, M.N. Das, 1964, p122 [50] Hardinge Papers, Book 81, Vol. II, No.231 [51] Peter Heehs, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, p.xiv, Preface

[52] Marcel Kvassay, in AntiMatter, posted by Tusar N. Mohapatra, Savitri Era Open Forum (internet). Italics by P.M. [53] For Version 2, see at the bottom of p.8 of this article [54] The Lives, p.440, No. 125, Heehs quotes two Government Proceedings (Home Department, series A, March 1910 [55] Sri Aurobindo’s official biography in 1471pp. (two volumes) [56] Singled out as “a leading member of Jugantar” (The Bomb, p.243), whose account was certified by Heehs as “representative” and whose examples as “convincing” (p.267) [57] Gitasree Bandyopadhyay, Constraints in Bengal Politics, 1921-41, Sarat Book House, 1984 [58] « Biplabi Bangala » in Galpa-bharati, kartik 1358 (October, 1951) [59] Article by Motilal Roy in Anandabazar Patrika, Special Jatin Mukherjee Supplement, Calcutta, 9 September 1947. [60] Amar dekha biplab o biplabi, Motilal Roy, 1957, p.115 [61] Two Great Indian Revolutionaries, by Uma Mukherjee, p.119 [62] “Working Men’s Cooperative” [63] The Bomb, p.249

[64] « The Students’ Store », a group of flourishing revolutionary enterprise to sell Swadeshi goods and finance the needs of the secret society, transformed into the Shramajivi. [65] Uma Mukherjee, loc. cit. [66] Smritikatha, pp.81-86 [67] « Shishya bhagini nivedita » in Sister Nivedita Birth Centenary Souvenir, Vol. I, p74, Calcutta, 1966. Quoted by Prithwindra Mukherjee in Undying Courage: the Story of Bagha Jatin, Academic Publishers, 1992, p181 [68] Meaning Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab, Bal Gangadhar Tilak from Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal from Bengal. Tilak alone seemed to appreciate and encourage the Extremist programme [69] J.C. Nixon of the Intelligence Department opened his Report with the promotion of societies since about 1900 in Calcutta “and are said to have spread to many of the districts of Bengal and to have flourished particularly at Kushtia, where Jatindra Nath Mukharji was leader.” [Report on The Revolutionary Organisations in Bengal]

Sri Aurobindo is definitely the role model for every politician

A Fatherhood More Equal?

Published letters In the Print Magazine 4 May, 2009 01:34:23PM (IST) Just Icons Francois Gautier’s piece A Fatherhood More Equal (Apr 13) tells us who really contributed in the making of an independent India. Sri Aurobindo is definitely the role model for every politician, whatever his or her party. Sathis P.R., Chitradurga

Published Letters 27 Apr, 2009 01:16:31PM (IST) Tales Of Our Fathers Apropos Francois Gautier’s piece, A Fatherhood More Equal? (Apr 13), it was Aurobindo who stood for complete independence, for which India was "entitled to attain its freedom by violence, if it can do so, or if there is no other way". It is wrong to say that many disciples of Aurobindo and the Mother today have swept under the carpet their conviction that ‘dharma’ should be protected, if necessary, by force.

Like Gandhiji, he felt a strong spiritual dimension in the quest for freedom. Sri Aurobindo shared his birthday with our Independence day, and explained that it was "not as a coincidence or fortuitous accident, but as a sanction and seal of the Divine Power which guides my steps on the work with which I began life". Shall we say Sri Aurobindo is the spiritual father of the nation? Col C.V. Venugopalan (retd), Palakkad, Kerala

As Peter Heehs writes in his excellent The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, one should never lose sight of the fact that similarities between the freedom movement-era religious nationalism and contemporary Hindu right-wing nationalism "are superficial while the points of difference are deep".

Heehs writes further, "Aurobindo favoured an eclectic, Vedantic Hinduism, which he believed to be universal. But this ‘wider Hinduism’ was something that embraced ‘science and faith, Theism, Christianity, Mohammedanism and Buddhism and yet is none of these’."

"The Hindu nation-builder," Aurobindo wrote, "shall not seek to superimpose his own ideals and methods on his Mohammedan brother, nor shall the Mohammedan, the Buddhist or the Christian seek to obliterate the essential characteristics of the Hindu culture and Hindu race". Ulrich M., Pondicherry

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