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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sri Aurobindo's use of Bengali Śākta Tantrism to justify political violence

Indian communalism a survey of historical and social-scientific approaches
Author: Peter Heehs Affiliation: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Library,
3 issues per year
South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Volume 20, Issue 1 June 1997 , pages 99 - 113 Subject: South Asian Studies; Formats available: PDF (English) Article Requests: Order Reprints : Request Permissions

The Political Goddess: Aurobindo's Use of Bengali Śākta Tantrism to Justify Political Violence in the Indian Anti-Colonial Movement Rachael Fabish South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 1479-0270, Volume 30, Issue 2, 2007, Pages 269 – 292 Abstract Full Text PDF Full Text HTML Request Permissions Related Articles

Book reviews B.H. Farmer; Gregory L. Possehl; Leonard Jolley; Gail Omvedt; Ludo Rocher; Don Wright; Marjorie Jacobs; Paul Harrison; S. Arasaratnam; M.N. Pearson; Raymond Callahan; Brian Stoddart; Ian Copland; Meredith Borthwick; Jos. Jordens; Philip Woods; Arthur Davies; Kenneth McPherson; W.R. Crocker; Denis Wright; Donald F. Miller; John A. Ardussi; William H. Newell; Chris Furedy; Jim Masselos; John McGuire; Eamon Murphy; Robin Jeffrey; David Hardiman; I.J. Catanach; Dipesh Chakrabarty South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 1479-0270, Volume 1, Issue 1, 1978, Pages 120 – 160 Abstract References Full Text PDF Full Text HTML Request Permissions Related Articles

Friday, November 27, 2009

The economic function in the Indian worldview

1. The transformed leader and spiritual psychology: a few insights Type: Article, Research paper Author(s): S.K. Chakraborty, Debangshu Chakraborty Source: Journal of Organizational Change Management; Volume: 17 Issue: 2; 2004 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (93 KB) Reprints & Permissions
2. The economic function in the Hindu worldview: its perennial social relevance Type: Article, Conceptual paper Author(s): S.K. Chakraborty, D. Chakraborty Source: International Journal of Social Economics; Volume: 34 Issue: 10; 2007 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (122 KB) Reprints & Permissions
3. The need for a new Indic school of thought Type: Non Article Author(s): David Frawley Source: European Business Review; Volume: 13 Issue: 6; 2001 " target=_blank>View HTML
4. A Companion to the Philosophers Type: Non Article Author(s): Stuart Hannabuss Source: Reference Reviews; Volume: 16 Issue: 1; 2002 " target=_blank>View HTML
5. A generalised “layered methodology” framework Type: Article, Research paper Author(s): Joseph Voros Source: foresight; Volume: 7 Issue: 2; 2005 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (165 KB)
6. ICT and the tension between old and new: the human factor Type: Article, Conceptual paper Author(s): Krystyna Gorniak-Kocikowska Source: Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society; Volume: 6 Issue: 1; 2008 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (144 KB) Reprints & Permissions
7. The education of a transcendent generation Type: Article, Viewpoint Author(s): Debashis Chowdhury Source: On the Horizon; Volume: 17 Issue: 2; 2009 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (241 KB) Reprints & Permissions
8. Social responsibility in India towards global compact approach Type: Article, Research paper Author(s): Aruna Das Gupta Source: International Journal of Social Economics; Volume: 34 Issue: 9; 2007 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (299 KB) Reprints & Permissions
10. Waking up after the war Type: Article, Viewpoint Author(s): Richard A. Slaughter Source: foresight; Volume: 7 Issue: 3; 2005 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (98 KB)
11. Understanding and teaching future consciousness Type: Article, General review Author(s): Tom Lombardo Source: On the Horizon; Volume: 17 Issue: 2; 2009 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (99 KB) Reprints & Permissions
13. Caste, class synergies and discrimination in India Type: Article, Viewpoint Author(s): Autar S. Dhesi Source: International Journal of Social Economics; Volume: 25 Issue: 6/7/8; 1998 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (144 KB) Reprints & Permissions
14. Two approaches to workplace spirituality facilitation: a comparison and implications Type: Article, Conceptual paperAuthor(s): Badrinarayan Shankar Pawar Source: Leadership & Organization Development Journal; Volume: 29 Issue: 6; 2008 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (141 KB) Reprints & Permissions
15. BASIC HUMAN NATURE IN INDIAN TRADITION AND ITS ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES Type: Article, General review Author(s): Arunoday Saha Source: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy; Volume: 12 Issue: 1/2; 1992 View PDF (2575 KB) Reprints & Permissions
16. Managerial ethos of the Indian tradition: relevance of a wisdom model Type: Article, Research paper Author(s): Samir Ranjan Chatterjee Source: Journal of Indian Business Research; Volume: 1 Issue: 2/3; 2009 " target=_blank>View HTML View PDF (157 KB) Reprints & Permissions

Socially redemptive qualities of money and markets

The breakdown of the neoliberal world economy from The Memory Bank by keith
Lessons from Marcel Mauss and Karl Polanyi
Anthropology in the financial crisis

Everybody knows that we are living through a hinge moment in world history generated by the financial crisis of 2008. The collapse of the credit boom has already had dramatic social consequences: the default and nationalization of banks, dramatic losses of personal savings and mortgage foreclosures on a massive scale. Where it will all end is anyone’s guess. Apart from these tangible effects, the present crisis also concerns ideas about the economy. Free market economics has gained an unparalleled dominance within the academy and society more generally in the last three decades.

Economists, armed with impenetrable mathematical arguments, encouraged politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown to claim ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA) to their market fundamentalism. They preached an eternally benevolent spiral, ‘beyond boom and bust’, guaranteed by radically reducing the role of the state and politics in distribution – the question of who gets what in the world. The collapse of this pretence has been as sudden as the paper fortunes built on it. All too often a distinction is drawn between the world of finance and the ‘real economy’, as if borrowing money for holidays against rising house prices and the theft of public assets by corporate predators were not real. I argue for a perspective that treats money as an integral part of society rather than as something semi-detached from it (Hart 2000, 2007a).

The period since the 1980s, sometimes referred to as ‘neo-liberal globalization’, has seen two apparently contradictory trends. On the one hand, for the first time significant numbers of anthropologists have studied capitalism in its central workings; on the other, the majority have become more insular and introverted, offering fragmented narratives within a narrow framework of time and space, while leaving to others questions of where the world is heading and why. The breakdown of the economists’ intellectual hegemony represents a chance for us to link our engagement with people’s lives to anthropology’s original mission to understand humanity as a whole. We have perhaps been intimidated into adopting a more blinkered posture than is warranted by our own intellectual traditions. [...]

The rise and fall of national capitalism
In order to understand the potential of our moment in history, we need to reflect on competing visions of the development of capitalism in the twentieth century and before. There is no more fruitful place to begin such reflection than Karl Polanyi’s masterpiece, The Great Transformation: the political and economic orgiins of our times, published in 1944 and largely gestated in England during the 1930s (Polanyi 2001). It opens with a highly selective account of the making of world society in the nineteenth century, a society that Polanyi not unreasonably considered to be lying in ruins as he wrote. Money was a central feature of all four pillars of this civilization. Polanyi identified the interest that had sustained a century of peace in Europe with what he insisted on calling haute finance,
“an institution sui generis, peculiar to the last third of the nineteenth and the first third of the twentieth century, [which] functioned as the main link between the political and economic organization of the world in this period.”(Polanyi 2001:10)
The international gold standard “was merely an attempt to extend the domestic market system to the international field”; the balance-of-power system was a superstructure built on its foundation; and the gold standard’s fall “was the proximate cause of the catastrophe”. The self-regulating market was “the fount and matrix of the system”; it had “produced unheard-of material welfare”, but it was utopian in its pursuit of an autonomous circuit of commodities and money. The liberal state, in the name of market freedom, forced all other interests in society to submit to the freedom of capital, another word for money (Ibid:3).
Later in the book, Polanyi listed money as one of the three “fictitious commodities”. Labour, land and money are essential to the industrial system; they must therefore be bought and sold, but they were definitely not produced for sale. Labour is human activity that is part of life itself; land is another word for nature; and “actual money is merely a token of purchasing power which, as a rule, is not produced at all, but comes into being through the mechanism of banking or state finance” (Ibid:72). Here Polanyi comes close to suggesting that a free market in money entails buying and selling society itself. Money and markets for him have their origin in the effort to extend society beyond its local core. Polanyi believed that money, like the sovereign states to which it was closely related, was often introduced from outside; and this was what made the institutional attempt to separate economy from politics and naturalise the market as something internal to society so subversive.
Polanyi distinguished between “token” and “commodity” forms of money. “Token money” was designed to facilitate domestic trade, “commodity money” foreign trade; but the two systems often came into conflict. Thus the gold standard sometimes exerted downward pressure on domestic prices, causing deflation that could only be alleviated by central banks expanding the money supply in various ways. The tension between the internal and external dimensions of economy often led to serious disorganization of business (Ibid: 193-4). Another way of putting this contradiction is to oppose the liberal definition of money as just a “medium of exchange” to one as a “means of payment”. Here Polanyi echoes Knapp, Keynes and others who wished to draw attention to the political possibilities for state manipulation of “purchasing power”. (I should mention in parenthesis that Polanyi’s opposition between token and commodity money was the main source for my own analysis of the interdependence of the two sides of the coin over twenty years ago, Hart 1986).
The final collapse of the international gold standard was thus one consequence of the ruinous attempt to delink commodity and token forms of money. In a trenchant discussion of the economic crisis of the 1930s that has echoes of the world economy today, Polanyi highlighted the separation of the money system from trade. As restrictions on trade grew, money became more free: [...]

Mauss and Polanyi
Do anthropologists have something to say about all this? It would help if we could bring the distributive consequences of finance down to a concrete level. Our readers might then be able to engage with money not as a superhuman force with devastating effects, but as the outcome of ideas and institutions that can and should be changed by human action. Kula objects (Malinowski 1922) have magical power for those who exchange them, but anthropologists have shown their social logic and instrumentality. We have always invented concepts to describe and explain social processes quite different from those familiar at home. The current crisis presents us with a compelling reason to do so again, this time in a global context. When others may be losing their heads, there are rich precedents in the anthropological literature for where to start.
We can do no better than to renew our engagement with the writings of Marcel Mauss and Karl Polanyi. The ideas of these foundational writers in economic anthropology have been sliced and diced – like mortgage debt – to serve different purposes over the years, but their perspectives on political economy can help us to make sense of the current situation and to recommend a path forward beyond market fundamentalism. Mauss’s reflections on money and exchange in The Gift (1925) have often been misunderstood. Probably his essay’s title and later academic discourse have obscured his concern there to use unconventional money forms to illuminate some potentially dangerous aspects of money forms based on capitalist corporations and the welfare state. Mauss was a cooperative socialist in the British tradition of the Rochdale Pioneers, Keir Hardie and the Webbs. He was a tremendous Anglophile and spent the war on the front line as a translator for British and Australian troops. He also kept a close eye on the cooperative movement in Switzerland and Germany. He lost part of his inheritance financing a cooperative bakery in Paris. But his metier was as a political journalist. His political writings (Mauss 1997) run to 700 pages, about two-thirds of them written in 1920-25, the period when he wrote The Gift. He was anti-capitalist, but not anti-market. He was pleased that his uncle’s idea of an organic division of labour was extended to international economy after the war. [...]

Polanyi and Mauss made sure that their more abstract understandings of political economy were grounded in the everyday lives of concrete people, thereby lending to field research the power of general ideas. I have already noted a recent increase in anthropological research on aspects of capitalism, but anthropologists have largely left the global effects of an unequal distribution of money, the class conflict between rich and poor everywhere, to other branches of the academic division of labour, especially to economists of whatever political persuasion. There are rich precedents for the anthropological study of distribution in particular contexts, but we still tend to privilege the rural inhabitants of the former colonial empires and settle for cultural representations of isolated social fragments.
The missing link between the everyday and the world at large can be found in the work of Polanyi and Mauss. An unblinking focus on distribution at every level from the global to the local reveals how the social consequences of political economy and the way it is understood by those who make it are one and the same social process. The current crisis renders this insight particularly visible, since it challenges contemporary financial ideas, while its tangible distributive effects are felt and feared throughout the world. We are clearly witnessing a power struggle of potentially awesome consequences. Each new political response to the latest economic calamity evokes the spectre of the Great Depression and its bloody aftermath. The mask of neo-liberal ideology has been ripped from the politics of world economy.
Money in the making of world society
What light do Mauss and Polanyi throw on the part played by markets and money in the making of world society? Mauss held that the attempt to create a free market for private contracts is utopian and just as unrealizable as its antithesis, a collective based solely on altruism. Human institutions everywhere are founded on the unity of individual and society, freedom and obligation, self-interest and concern for others. The pure types of selfish and generous economic action obscure the complex interplay between our individuality and belonging in subtle ways to others. He was highly critical of the Bolsheviks’ destruction of confidence in the expanded sense of sociability that sustained the market economy (Mauss 1997). In his view, markets and money were human universals whose principal function was the extension of society beyond the local sphere, even if they did not always take the impersonal form we are familiar with. This was why, in a long footnote to The Gift (Mauss 1990:100-102), he disputed Malinowski’s (1921) assertion that kula valuables could not be considered to be money. [...]

It is odd that Polanyi (1944) appears sometimes to reduce the structures of national capitalism to an apolitical ’self-regulating market’. For his analysis of money, markets and the liberal state was intensely political, as was his preference for social planning over the market. His war-time polemic, reproducing something of his opponents’ abstractions, was more a critique of liberal economics than a realistic account of actually existing capitalism. This would explain the lingering confusion over whether he thought a ‘disembedded’ market was possible or just a figment of liberal ideology, ‘market fundamentalism’. Similarly, one could argue either that neoliberalism did effectively disembed the market economy or that its claim to have done so was a mystification of the fact that markets were still embedded in largely invisible political processes. In either case, the postwar turn to ‘embedded liberalism’ (Harvey 2005) or social democracy — what I have called the apogee of national capitalism — is only weakly illuminated by The Great Transformation.
I have made much here of Mauss’s idea that the principal function of money and markets is to extend society beyond its present limits. Thus Malinowski’s ethnography of the kula ring could be taken as a metaphor for the world economy of his day, with island economies that were not self-sufficient being drawn into trade with each other by means of personalized exchange of valuables between local leaders. These canoe expeditions were dangerous and magical because their crews were temporarily outside the realm of normal society. This always happens when society’s frontiers are pushed rapidly outwards, as they have time and time again in the last two centuries and long before that. The period of ‘neoliberal financialization’ could be compared with previous episodes in the history of global capitalism, such as the dash to build continental railroads, the gold strikes in California, Alaska and South Africa or the wild rubber boom of the mid- to late nineteenth century. There are many analogous episodes to be found in the mercantilist economies that emerged during the period 1500-1800, notoriously the ‘South Sea bubble’ and the ‘Tulips craze’. Similarly, the last three decades saw a rapid extension of society’s frontiers after the postwar convergence of state and market in national capitalism reached its limit in the 1970s. The quick wealth and cowboy entrepreneurship we have just witnessed was made possible by the absence of regulation in a period of global economic expansion. The end of the bubble marks an opportunity to consider how world markets might now be organized in the general interest. [...]

The world economy is more integrated than it was even two decades ago; we need new principles of political association with which to put in place more effective regulatory frameworks. Fragmentation would be a disaster. Clearly the political questions facing humanity today concern distributive justice. The long period of Western dominance of the world economy is coming to an end. New actors on the world stage will have their say about who gets what. An escalation of war and general fractiousness is quite likely. Under these circumstances, a focus on the socially redemptive qualities of money and markets might be quite salutary. In this constructive sense, I depart from Polanyi’s conclusions; but I fear that his time as a prophet is yet to come (Hart 2008c).

Wendy Doniger & William Dalrymple; The Mother & Sri Aurobindo

From the time of William Jones, who is justifiably called the father of (modern) Indology right up to the likes of Wendy Doniger and Michael Witzel, the research, narrative, and interpretation was, unsurprisingly, colonial in both colour and flavour–Eurocentric, if you will. It was not so much from a spirit of free and objective inquiry that research in Indology progressed but more to meet political and missionary ends. This trend continues today where new scholarly papers and books are written with an express intent to “reinterpret” or provide an “alternative interpretation” of Indian mythology, the Vedas, Puranas, symbolism, sages, Gods, and Goddesses.
It is therefore no coincidence–or any sinister cabal at work–that almost all of these scholarly works meet with such intense criticism by not just scholars but by practicing Hindus. The answer to that is found in Aurobindo’s caution: in his time, he said that these [scholars] lacked the background necessary to properly read this largely spiritual literature [Vedas]. Aurobindo spoke on the authority of the native Indian tradition, which prescribes the prerequisites to understand and interpret these texts.
Radha Rajan November 25, 2009 at 4:47 PM
You see Sandeep you always find something in the panchatantra when confronted by oddities like dear Wendy. Of course we may take a Freudian approach to Wendy and we would all be right on target. But I prefer your analogy that what you envy and cannot have, you demean and diminish. Remember the good old tale about the fox and the grapes? Perhaps Wendy wishes she were on the pillars of Khajuraho, who knows?
Druva November 26, 2009 at 9:33 PM
For one, I am very skeptical about scholars of lazy-arm-chair-professor variety, be they are from west or east to do research on indology. Only a spiritually(dharmically) awakened person can understand our scriptures to be able to produce any scholarly work. Aurobindo is one very fine example. Scholars like Wendy doesn’t even deserve any attention. It’s a pity that they get so much of attention and also make a living out it.
larissa November 26, 2009 at 6:19 AM
"that scholarship was more or less familiar to the West in terms of cultural proximity and involved none of the rigorous prerequisites that Indian scholarship demands.”
This is not wholly true. The West is also divorced from understanding its Greco-Roman heritage because it has adopted Christianity and measures all religious attitudes in terms of the Christian view point–. Many great Western classicists have made this observation.
I do not think Wendy is dishonest in that she writes about what she is interested in (namely subjects feminists are interested in and those who like to write “alternative” histories as the real history is not much to their liking)–she just exemplifies fads that are current today –I think she would distort the Greeks as much as the ancient Indians, if she were to write about them.
“Who even reads Max Mueller, despite his amazing 50 volumed SBE?”
Well just as who reads great Western classical scholars today? Today classics is in decline, whether it be in the West or East. How many people study the classics in Greek and Latin in the West? Education has come to mean acquiring practical skills to survive in the modern world.If India were a strong nation and self sufficient, it would not need to care what Westerners think of it. It is important for ideas to impact those in power, otherwise they do not exert much influence.
Beyond boundaries
UAE / Friday, November 27, 2009 Abu Dhabi
Though identified with the Vedas and other scriptures in Sanskrit, Hinduism in practice contains a baffling diversity of religious ideas, extending from the worship of trees and abstract monism to atheism – alone among major world religions, Hinduism continues to expand its pantheon with new divinities. [...]
In many parts of the country, the Hindu nationalists tried to supplant folk deities and local traditions with their own versions of a hyper-masculine Lord Rama. But popular Hinduism continues to develop, with new divinities and pilgrimages. There are fewer private recitals of the Ramayana of the kind I grew up with in small cities and towns; there are more collective displays of religiosity, such as large Maha-Aaartis (mega-prayers) organised by Hindu nationalists at major temples.
Wealthy gurus, such as Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, have proliferated, and provide material and psychological support as well as spiritual guidance to their mostly middle-class followers. Large ashrams, such as Puttaparthi near Bangalore, Gayatri Teerth Shantikunj in Hardwar, and Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, contain large communities of affluent Indians. And members of the politically ambitious global Indian diaspora, who are also the most fervent supporters of Hindu nationalism, construct lavish temples in places as unlikely as Louisiana.
Yet the true vitality and continuity of Indian religions is still to be found where most of India’s one-billion-plus population lives. Still widely practised, folk religions and pluralist traditions constitute the norm rather than the exception, even if press and television coverage of India makes religion mostly seem a nasty political obstacle to the country’s modernisation and economic growth. [...]
It may be useful to contrast India’s lived experience of pluralism with contemporary Europe, especially as the latter tries to renovate its faded ideals of secular citizenship while longing for its old cultural uniformity. The secular liberalism of the nation-state has demanded conformity and obedience from Europe’s citizens. Upholding an abstract idea of the individual citizen divested of his religious and ethnic identity, this liberalism has not had an easy relationship with Europe’s ethnic and religious minorities, to put it mildly; the current obsession with Muslims, for instance, betrays a deep unease with expressions of cultural distinctiveness (previously exemplified in Western Europe by Jews).
The rise of right-wing parties across Europe shows that masses as well as elites are embracing majoritarian nationalism, recoiling from what, by Indian standards, seems a very limited experience of immigration, social diversity and political extremism. India’s example suggests that Europe may have to broaden and deepen its understanding of religion and tradition rather than expect its immigrants to abandon them.
As Dalrymple’s book vividly illustrates, the country’s heterodox religious and philosophical traditions remain stronger than the imported idea of the homogenous nation-state, and have survived much of its immense violence. By ensuring a degree of collective and individual continuity, these traditions have avoided the traumatic breaks with the past that have occurred in the West, and even in older civilisations like China. Certainly, the subcontinent’s antique and enduring pluralism, its respect for minority identity and community belonging, could not have been possible without the moral and spiritual core of traditional religions, which will continue to provide essential bearings to many in our increasingly crowded and confused future. Pankaj Mishra, a frequent contributor to the Review, is the author of four books, most recently The Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond.

DB: I've always enjoyed reading Dalrymple for the historical density in his writing. Of the novelists, Amitava Ghosh has this sense of history and civilization, the rest are good but are mostly focused on contemporary social phenomenology. Of course, Rushdie is the granddaddy of Indian magic realism and one does get some sense of India as a civiliization in his work, but overall I feel India has still to produce its Orhan Pamuk. I like Pankaj Mishra's essays very much but couldn't get myself to like his take on the Buddha.
TC: I agree with your take on Amitav Ghosh -his last Sea of Poppies was outstanding IMO- Although I really just skimmed PM's Buddha book, as an essayist and critic he is an excellent writer with a penetrating insight into contemporary socio-political issues. His last article in the New York Review on Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali is indicative of his excellent stylistic touch: Science, Culture and Integral Yoga
Re: : The Hindus: An Alternative History (contemporary Indian authors) Debashish Tue 24 Nov 2009 Great quote. I quite agree, Pankaj Mishra is undoubtedly among the best essayists of our times.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bande Mataram, an immortal and unforgettable newspaper in the history of Indian Journalism

ABVP JNU VIBHAG: Vande Mataram: Soul of our Nation and Nationalism
On 7 August 1906, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) started his paper Bande Mataram, which became an immortal and unforgettable newspaper in the history of Indian Journalism.

Kaushal's blog: Neo-Colonial Captive Minds
11 Nov 2009 by Kaushal - Most worrisome of all is that the infection has affected the perceptions and self-appraisal of large sections of the Indian national collectivity itself, despite the intuitive pronouncements of great spiritual leaders of the Indian renaissance like Dayananda Saraswati, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo.... [...]

And the man who picked it out from Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's classic Bengali novel 'Anandamath' was no less a leader than Sri Aurobindo himself. To the surprise and consternation of the British Viceroy and his officials, thousand-throated cries of “Vande Mataram” rent the skies of India during the inspiring beginnings in those dramatic years of the national independence struggle. [...]

To continue with Danino. “B.R. Ambedkar is our second example. Known in India chiefly for his campaign in support of the lower castes (he himself was a Harijan) and his work on the Indian Constitution, it is often overlooked that in order to find out the truth of the European Theories about Aryans and non-Aryans, high and low caste, he did precisely what Sri Aurobindo exhorted Indians to do: he went to the source, and studied the Veda for himself, with an open mind. His conclusions are unequivocal, though regrettably they are largely ignored by those who profess to follow his lead and who more often than not make a strident use of the very theories he sought to demolish..." By Devan Nair (Oct. 14, 2009) (Devan Nair, former President of Singapore, has sent the following message to be posted to the ECIT egroup. As an intellectual, a follower of Sri Aurobindo, and student of the recent re-evaluation of the Aryan-Invasion Theory, his message is very interesting to ponder.)

Voice of Pakistan: Vande Matram In Deoband
8 Nov 2009 by Exposing the biggest sham democracy - India Just a cursory glance at the widely accepted translation of the song from Bengali to English by Sri Aurobindo makes it clear that the image of mother goddess, and the bowing before her goes against the seminal grain of Islam; ...

Vande Mataram; The history and politics By Shamsul Islam Facebook
Even Sri Aurobindo (Aurobindo Ghose), propounder of Hindu nationalism in India, translated it as the "National Anthem of Bengal". As we will see in the translation done by Aurobindo, referred to “seven crores” [70 million] of people worshipping motherland. This was the population of the then Bengal Province (which, besides what is now Bangladesh, included Bihar and Orissa too). So the crucial fact should not be missed that Vande Mataram touted as symbolizing “Mother India” was in fact meant to glorify Bengal only, a rather narrow and regional perspective.

Vande Mataram Translation by Aurobindo [Quoted in Bhabatosh Chatterjee (ed.), Bankim Chandra Chatterjee: Essays in Perspective, Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, 1994, p. 601.]

Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore: Editorial
28 Oct 2009 - The Bhagavad Gita is held as such. It is revered as the rare 'scripture of liberation'. What this liberation is, who seeks it, who is the giver of liberation, who, the enjoyer, through what methods is this liberation procured and what . ...

Why Hinduism is known as Santana Dharma? ? Sri Aurobindo
28 Oct 2009 - Hinduism gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a ...

Indian Literary and Critical Theories in English: A Comparison
10 Nov 2009 by (Vivek K. Dwivedi) Even Sri Aurobindo, who could be described as the least oppositional to the West amongst the significant theorists, did not passively accept Western Theoretical positions as the West presented them. Even he played a significant role in ...

Sangarsh: Spiritual Religion Can Safeguard the Indian Nation Friday, November 20, 2009
Mahesh Kaul: In June19, 1907- Sri Aurobindo another proud son of the soil, revolutionary visionary and philosopher spoke thus, on Swami Vivekananda, “Apart from the natural attachment which every man has to his country, literature, its traditions, its customs and usages, patriotism has an additional stimulus in the acknowledged excellence of a national civilization. If Britons love England with all her faults, why should we fail to love India whose faults were whittled down to an irreducible minimum till foreign conquests threw the whole society out of gear. But instead of being dominated by the natural ambition of carrying the banner of such a civilization all over the world, we are unable to maintain its integrity in its native home. This is betraying a trust this is unworthiness of the worst type... Posted by Ranjeet Sharma at 7:08 AM

Issues and Insights: Why Was Gandhi Killed (Full)
13 Nov 2009 The chapter gives you Sri Aurobindo's views on Gandhi / Ahimsa. It contains excerpts from a book India's Rebirth by Sri Aurobindo. 5. Food for Thought is a brief summary of the above along with a correlation to current events. ...

Michael Madhusudan Dutt - Meghnadh Badh Kabya Bengali Poetry ...
8 Nov 2009 by (WashingtonBangl... Sri Aurobindo wrote about Megnad Badh Kabyo and Michael Madhusudan Dutt, "All the stormiest passions of man's soul he expressed in gigantic language." Listen to recitation of Michael Madhusudan Dutta's epic Bangla poem Meghnadh Bodh ...

ekkentros free thoughts: ageless body and timeless mind - Seminar ... The most fascinating of all the myths about death is the story of Savitri-Sathyavan, adopting which sage Aurobindo wrote his famous epic poem “Savitri’, to bring out his idea of the supramental manifestation on earth, achieving immortality. The legend of Savitri is one of the side stories found in the Mahabharata in its chapter or part relating to ‘Forest’ (Vanaparvam). [...]

But its spiritual and mystic meaning comes out in Aurobindo’s epic poem by the same title. The Savitri story held an irresistible fascination for Sri Aurobindo, because Sathyavan stood for Truth and Savitri for a wife’s devotion and power. When they come together, the union gets charged with enormous possibilities, ready to dare even Death. On the material plane his poem begins on the day Sathyavan is fated to die. And the poem ends with the resolution of the crisis, that is, wresting satyavan from the clutches of Yama, the lord of death.

ageless body and timeless mind - Seminar Report
SEMINAR organized by Current Books and conducted by Ekkentros Forum on 25-9-09 (Friday) Venue: Currenr Books Premises, Thalassery. Participants Present: Sri K.V.Kunhikrishnan, IRS (Retd), Chairman of the Forum, Dr. Babu Ravindran, Prof. P.M.Sankarankutty, Dr. K.P. Thomas, Dr. Md. Abdulla, Prof. Mohanan Nair, all members of the Forum, Sri. K.P.Kunhikrishnan Nair, Mrs. Shobha Rajagopal Menon, Principal (Retd), St. Kabir High School, Ahemedabad. Prof. Richard Hay, Member of the Forum arrived late as he was held up in his college.

George Quant Interviews Dr. Debashish Banerji: Return of the Veda ...
27 Oct 2009 by nalandainternational Dr. Banerji is an authority on Indian contemporary art and philosophy, which includes the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Veda, especially in its contemporary applicability. A master story teller, his book is based on his dissertation ...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Think beyond borders; reach out and feel at home in the world

Home > Opinion > The world outside the box
Antara Dev Sen
DNA, Thursday, November 19, 2009

It is time we woke up to the alarming u-turn we have taken in the path of liberalism and inclusivism that had once marked our culture. The Hindu right, in fact, have come so far away from our philosophy of cultural tolerance, that even Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the brazenly right Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is complaining about some political parties "converting India's diversity into discrimination for political gains". Sadly, the proponents of Hindutva have been doing this for years, with cultural chauvinism ruling religious, linguistic and regional identities.

Only a pathological fantasist would believe that India never had discrimination and that its pluralism never faced problems. The greatness of our culture lies in the ability to overcome these differences and thrive as a pluralistic country. And when we started out as an independent nation, we chose this as the way forward. This resolve was stamped into not just our Constitution and laws, but also in the cultural institutions established around that time -- like the Sahitya Akademi and the National Book Trust -- that would promote multiculturalism through the many language literatures of the country. Close on their heels came cultural institutions from overseas.

Take the Goethe Institute, known here as the Max Mueller Bhavan, which is now celebrating 50 years in India with a flourish of art, theatre, films and literature. But maybe we should step back for a moment and think of what Goethe and Max Mueller stand for. They were great German thinkers and writers, certainly, but to me their primary importance lies in their ability to think beyond borders. Whatever their respective flaws, they could reach out and feel at home in the world.

"Self knowledge comes from knowing other men," said Goethe, whose idea of Weltliteratur or world literature triggered the concept of literature without borders. About 200 years ago, he had put cultural xenophobia firmly in its place: "You will find the most pronounced hatred of other nations on the lowest cultural levels."

And Max Mueller, who triggered an interest in Indian studies and comparative religion about 150 years ago, talked of how he found the greatest peace and joy in Indian philosophy. He had translated the Upanishads and the Rig Veda and was disturbed by the narrowness that had crept into the interpretation of Hinduism. He hoped for a reformation. "It is the root of their religion," he said of the Rig Veda, "and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3,000 years." For his efforts, he was criticised furiously by Christian chauvinists then and by Hindu chauvinists later.

We also tend to forget our own glorious tradition of free thinkers. About 350 years ago, Dara Shikoh translated the Upanishads into Persian, taking it out of the confines of Sanskrit and Hinduism and giving it a wide international readership. In modern India, Rabindranath Tagore established Visva Bharati, or the University of the World, in Bengal almost 90 years ago. The thirst for other cultures has consistently been part of our pluralistic tradition.

Front Page > Opinion > FROM DREAM TO REALITY - BENGAL’S CRISIS HIDES IN IT THE POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE N.K. Singh The Telegraph, Thursday, November 19, 2009

There is no denying the fact that Bengal is at a crossroads. This is because, on the one hand, economic opportunities are enormous if the transition is successful and orderly. The price of failure, on the other hand, is inordinately high. And yet, because there is change in the air and because the foundation has already been laid, the prospect of a resurgence is much brighter than at any time in the past. The present crisis embeds in itself the opportunity of change. India cannot prosper without a prosperous Bengal. And a prosperous Bengal will make for a prosperous India. THE AUTHOR IS A MEMBER OF THE RAJYA SABHA

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Religiosity is getting deeply rooted in everyday life

Invading The Secular Space By Ram Puniyani
14 November, 2009

India has quite a broad fare of God men. There are Gurus, Sants, Maharajs, Acharyas and Purohits (clergy) in the main. Their role has been changing over a period of time. Last three decades seem to be the time of their major glory, with their presence in all spheres in a very dominating way. Their number has also proliferated immensely and while some of these are big players, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Baba Ramdeo, Asaram Bapu to name the few. There are hundreds of them scattered in each state. Many of them are working in close tandem with Hindu right, Swami Assmanand, Late Swami Laxmananad Sarswati, Narendra Mahraj etc.

These are the ones who have created their own niche with different techniques, while Shankarachayas, are associated with the Mutts coming from historical times, the Akshrdham chain is also not very old a tradition. The Pramukh swamis (Chief Guru) of these temples wield enormous clout. One recalls Anand Marg came up during the decade of seventies and not much is hearing of that now.

Overall religiosity has been on the upswing and not many are protesting the promotion of blind faith by many such God men. The rational thought and movement is on the back foot and political leadership, social leaders, of many hues are bending over backwards to please these Babas, some of whom are also dispensing health and some of them claim to be looking into the crystal ball of future.

There is an interesting correlation between the coming up of adverse effects of globalization, rise in the anxieties and deprivations and the current dominance of God men. Many an interesting observations about these God men are there, the major one being the rise in alienation in last three decades along with the rising religiosity in the social space. Many a remarkable studies on this phenomenon are coming forth.

One such is by a US based Indian scholar of repute, Meera Nanda. In her book, The God Market, she makes very profound observations. She points out that this rising religiosity is manifested in boom in pilgrimages and newer rituals. Some old rituals are becoming more rooted and popular. She sees a nexus between state-temple-corporate complexes also. Secular institutions of Nehru era are being replaced by boosting demand and supply of God market.

A new Hindu religiosity is getting deeply rooted in everyday life, in public and private spheres. The distinction between private and public sphere is getting eroded as the case of Sai Baba in Maharashtra Chief Ministers official bungalow shows. Hindu rituals and symbols are becoming part of state functions; Hinduism de facto is becoming state religion. Hindu religiosity is becoming part of national pride with the aspiration of becoming a superpower. She observes a trend of increased religiosity. In India there are 2.5 million places of worship but only 1.5 million schools and barely 75000 hospitals. Half of 230 million tourist trips every year are for religious pilgrimage.

Akshardham temple acquired 100 acres of land at throw away price. Sri Sri Ravishanker's Art of Living Ashram in banglore has 99 acres of land leased from Karnataka Government. Gujarat Govt. gifted 85 acres of land to establish privately run rishikul in Porbander. Most significantly Nanda argues that the new culture of political Hinduism is triumphalist and intolerant, while asserting to be recognized as a tolerant religion. While claiming to have a higher tolerance, its intolerance is leading to violence against minorities.

It is because of this that even if the BJP may not be the ruling party, the political class and other sections of state apparatus have subtly accepted Hindu religiosity and the consequent politics as the official one, and so the justice for victims of religious violence eludes them. The question is, can the struggle for justice for weaker sections also incorporate a cultural-religious battle against the blind religiosity and proactive efforts initiated to promote rational thought. Comments (8)


Nehru’s ghosts
Hindustan Times, November 15, 2009 by Meghnad Desai

It was Gandhi’s idea that India should have a single national language, and that it should be Hindi/Hindustani. The idea of Hindi as the sole national language offended many in the South. Their languages not only had different scripts — not Devnagari in which Hindi was being projected — but also completely different vocabularies which, while...


That Hindi is our national language seems to be one of the most successful rumors spread in our country - The rumor with the widest reach - that probably gave birth to this Hindi arrogance. I wish these leaders and crores Indians realize the fact that India does not have a National language. There is no such thing in our constitution.

The national language of the United States is English and that of Ireland is Irish. The national language defines the people of the nation, culture and history. India is culturally so diverse, there are so many languages spoken that there cannot be any one such language that defines the culture and history. As of 2009, the Indian constitution recognizes 22 scheduled languages. Neither the Constitution of India[1] nor Indian law specifies a National language. Posted by Bharath Ganesh at 2:08 AM Dash Maniac a.k.a. Bharath

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should the Left abandon its politics and join insurgency?

The Crisis of the Left --Prabhat Patnaik

There is a theoretical ambiguity in the Left that underlies the crisis that it now finds itself in. On the issue of industrialisation, the real issue is whether it occurs through subservience to the logic of capital or it occurs without compromising the dialectics of subversion of the logic of capital. Subscribing to the view that the only immediate choice is between “development” and an attempt to overthrow the system negates any scope for Left politics.

The scope for Left politics arises by rejecting this binary choice, by transcending the problematic that the only immediate choice is between subservience to the logic of capital and attempting to overthrow the system. Transcending this problematic is precisely the resolution of the theoretical crisis of the Left. And the possibility of politics that is created thereby will also resolve the practical crisis of the Left. EPW 31-10-2009 [PERSPECTIVES] Issue : VOL 44 No. 44 October 31 - November 06, 2009 [...]

Hence opposition to industrialisation, even in the sense of implanting modern large-scale industrial units, lacks validity. But the real issue is not whether industrialisation occurs or not, but whether it occurs through subservience to the logic of capital or whether it occurs without compromising the dialectics of subversion of the logic of capital. The issue in short is not one of “use-values”, i e, what thing is produced, but of relations of production, i e, whether the production of the thing jeopardises the Left’s role in carrying forward the dialectics of subversion.

Subscribing to the view that such a dialectics of subversion is impossible for the Left if it leads state governments, that the only immediate choice is between “development”, a euphemism for subservience to the logic of capital, and an attempt to overthrow the system, which is what both the “development advocates” and the ultra-Left would want us to believe, negates any scope for Left politics. The “development advocates” would conclude from this view that the Left must abandon its politics and become subservient to the logic of capital; the ultra-Left would conclude from this view that the Left should abandon its politics and join insurgency. Both are wrong.

The scope for Left politics arises precisely by rejecting this binary choice, by transcending the problematic, common to both the ultra-Left and the neoliberals, that the only immediate choice is between subservience to the logic of capital or attempting to overthrow the system. Transcending this problematic is precisely the resolution of the theoretical crisis of the Left. And the scope for politics that is created thereby will also resolve the practical crisis of the Left.

Notes 1 These figures are taken from Utsa Patnaik (2007). 2 I have developed this argument at greater length in a 2002 essay “The Antinomies of Transnationalism”. 3 See in this connection Georg Lukacs’ review of Nikolai Bukharin’s book Historical Materialism (republished in 1966).
Lange, Oskar (1963): Political Economy, Volume 1 (Warsaw: Pergamon Press).
Lukacs, George (1966): “Technology and Social Relations” (republished), New Left Review.
Patnaik, Prabhat (2002): “The Antinomies of Transnationalism” in The Retreat to Unfreedom (New Delhi: Tulika Books).
Patnaik, Utsa (2007): “Neo-Liberalism and Rural Poverty in India”, Economic & Political Weekly, 28 July.