Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo had a love-hate relation with the Buddha

551, Books •  Friday, 22 July 2005 HINDUTVA: Exploring the idea of Hindu Nationalism by Jyotirmaya Sharma. Viking, New Delhi, 2003.
Jyotirmaya Sharma’s book, perhaps for the first time, presents a detailed descriptive and historical account of both the idea of Hindutva and its historical developments. It fills an enormous gap thus facilitating a better understanding of the term Hindutva. In his introduction, Sharma provides a detailed but crisp background of the trajectory of Hindutva. Some of the important stations in this journey are Dayananda Saraswati followed by Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda and finally V.D. Savarkar. […]
Like Dayananda, points out Sharma in his next chapter, for Aurobindo too ‘genuine patriotism and an authentic national destiny was possible… only through the revival of the Vedic institution of the fourfold order, catruvarna, a symbolic and typical institution often misrepresented as the four castes’ (p. 49). Even while conceding some ‘disclaimers’ in Aurobindo, Sharma however, elicits a consistent argument in him which is:
Indians were weak and unmanly and therefore required the kshatriya impulse; they had grown feeble and had to appropriate the Shakti of Science; to wield the Shakti of Science they had to re-Aryanize themselves; re-Aryanizing, among other things, meant the rediscovery of Occidental impulses already present in the Indian blood (p. 59).
This coupled with his characterization of superiority and tolerance of Hinduism, concludes Sharma, made Aurobindo’s utterances on Hinduism and Hindu by 1939, ‘echo the notions of Hindutva that Savarkar was advocating’ (p. 69). […]
The narrative is so absorbing that one does not until the end realize that the lineage it traces – of the idea of Hindu nationalism from Dayananda Saraswati to V.D. Savarkar via Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda – leaves one almost claustrophobic. This is something like the feeling of suffocation when one come out of a cinema hall after watching a good film. Put in academic terminology, like the knowledge/power nexus in Foucauldian sense, the books leaves us with no alternatives available within these thinkers. Notwithstanding the contextualisation of Vivekananda by Tapan Raychaudhuri in order to bail him out of ‘Hindu chauvinism’, Sharma’s book knocks down any such defence. Of course, there is a passing reference to another trajectory, which does not partake in the six characteristics of Hindutva that he has discussed. This is referred to in the last two pages of the introduction where he indicates an alternative line available in Tagore, Gandhi and Lohia. A. Raghuramaraju books.htm  

538 Books •  Wednesday, 16 June 2004 HINDUISM IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE edited by Antony Copley. Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2003.
THIS book attempts to explore the complex linkages between religious reform and the emergent dynamics of Hindutva. The volume is divided into two related parts under the headings – ‘Varieties of Nationalism’, and ‘Public Awareness and Private Spheres’. While the first part is chiefly concerned with the ideological appropriation of cultural icons like Swami Vivekananada and Aurobindo by Hindutva, the second takes a close peek at sampradayas, including contemporary groupings such as Mata Amritanandmayi Mission. […]
Ideologies on the move are good at appropriating, as the two articles on Vivekananda and Aurobindo in the present volume indicate. If secularists are easily willing to brand these figures as non-liberal deviants, how can we stop the Hindutva advocates from using them as decorative symbols or even brands? Our problem seems to be that when we look at ideas we tend to chloroform them before dissecting them instead of looking at the lively tensions and ambivalences of figures like Vivekananda. The advocates of Hindutva do the same and reduce Vivekananda to a small list of held beliefs. In brief, how does one stop the appropriators from appropriating? This is the one anxiety that I am unwilling to share, since it all begins to sound like an intellectual free for all rather than a debate. It is much more interesting for example to note that even as the Arya Samaj has lost a great deal of its vitality, it has also provided sufficient moral space for a Swami Agnivesh, probably the most unusual and intellectually exciting swami of our times. Ratnakar Tripathy books.htm  

As the Gita says, those of inferior intelligence (alpamedhasan) who worship inferior gods receive inferior spiritual rewards.8And although there are different ways to attain moksha, some such as jnanayoga are generally considered the highest and most reliable. It is striking that Raman Maharshi, Aurobindo and many other traditionalists took a low and patronising view of Mahatma Gandhi for taking the messy path of karmayoga to achieve his self-proclaimed goal of moksha, and were convinced that he was heading for failure. […]
Although Vivekananda was free to reject Muhammad’s account of his revelations, it is striking that he simply could not appreciate that Islam took a very different view of divine self-revelation. Aurobindo took a broadly similar view of Islam, and displayed what a critic rightly calls the ‘condescending tolerance of an adult for the juvenile follies of a teenager.’ Although Gandhi took a reverential view of Jesus, he too thought of him as a yogi who had arrived at his spiritual insights by intense spiritual training, and could not make sense of the Christian idea of the Son of God. In all these and other cases the assimilationist tendency severely restricts the Hindu religious imagination, and leads both to distortions of other religions and a hurtful attitude of misguided superiority. bhikhu parekh.htm

545 Meera Nanda, Making science sacred •  Tuesday, 1 February 2005
As originally formulated by Swami Vivekananda, followed up by Sri Aurobindo and repeated endlessly in the far-right tracts of Guru Golwalkar and Savitri Devi, the urge to claim the support of modern science for the Vedas is motivated by the nationalist urge to declare Hinduism’s superiority as the religion of reason and natural law over Christianity and Islam which are declared to be irrational and faith-based creeds. Contemporary Hindu nationalists are carrying on with the neo-Hindu tradition of proclaiming Hinduism as the universal religion of the future because of its superior ‘holistic science’ (as compared to the ‘reductionist science’ of the West.) Besides, it is easier to sell traditions and rituals, especially to urban, upwardly mobile men, if they have the blessings of English-speaking ‘scientific’ gurus.
Granted, that this business of Vedic science has been going on before anyone had ever heard the word ‘postmodern’. But, and this is central to my thesis, this Hindu nationalist appropriation of science has found new sources of intellectual respectability from the postmodernist, anti-Enlightenment turn taken by intellectuals, most radically in American universities, but also in India. (Indeed, intellectuals of Indian origin made original contributions to postcolonial theory). Many of the arguments for ‘decolonizing knowledge’ and constructing ‘holistic sciences’ in tune with the Indic civilizational values converge with the arguments used by the Hindu nationalists. […]
Take the example of the emerging theory of ‘Vedic creationism’ (which updates the spiritual evolutionary theories of Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda). Its chief architects, Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, actually cite social constructivist theories to claim that Darwinian evolutionary biologists and mainstream biologists, being products of the western ontological assumptions, have been systematically ignoring and hiding evidence that supports the theory of ‘devolution of species’ from the Brahman through the mechanism of karma and rebirth. All knowledge, they claim, parroting social constructivism, is a product of interests and biases. On this account, Vedic creationism, explicitly grounded in Vedic cosmology is as plausible and defensible as Darwinism is on the naturalistic and capitalist assumptions of the western scientists.

Gandhiji believed that such an education would stop the exodus from the village to the city and help people adapt to their real social environment. Interesting experiments were carried out at the Sevagram schools under the direction of some devoted educationists.
Kala Bhavan, the art school at Sevagram was supervised by Devi Prasad, who had studied art in Shanti niketan under Nandalal Bose, Binode Bihari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij. India also had visionaries like Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo and Krishnamurti, who understood the importance of creativity in education. […]
The truth is few teachers realize that one cannot teach. In none of the Indian languages is there a root word corresponding to the English word ‘teach’. One can only help learn. Tagore, Aurobindo and Krishnamurti said that long ago. According to the American expert, Howard Gardner, all of us have several forms of intelligence. Our ‘teaching’ mainly deals with the intelligence required for learning languages, maths and science (left brain). It undervalues the importance of the intelligence related to learning music, arts and crafts, sports etc (right brain). Characteristics of the right hemisphere of the brain are creative thinking, intuition. The right brain does not exclude the left brain. It helps in seeing the whole picture. Gardner has also identified many other types of intelligence – interpersonal, intrapersonal, moral and spiritual. Inputs for these are difficult to incorporate, when the atmosphere in the school and home environment is vitiated by growing decline in basic human values.  

522 Communication •  Tuesday, 4 March 2003
Parekh is again wrong in his finding that as per Hinduism jnanamarga is the most superior (as yet another instance of the Hindu tendency to order everything into hierarchy?). Philosophers have accorded different preferences to the different paths to God. While jnanamarga is the most superior according to Sankaracharya, it was bhaktimarga according to Ramanjua and Madhva, karmamarga according to B.G. Tilak, and an integrated yoga combining all the three according to Aurobindo. It is interesting that just as there was no unique hierarchy among paths to God realization there was no unique or universally agreed hierarchy among jaatis too. M.V. Nadkarni, Professor,
Institute of Social and Economic Change, Nagarabhavi, Bangalore communication.htm  

534 Mahesh Daga, Is the party over? •  Friday, 27 February 2004
The Hindutva script – combining narratives of (past and present) Hindu victimhood with exhortations of (imminent or future) glory, think of ‘
India shining’ – is an extended answer to that haunting question. You can hear its distant echoes in figures as diverse as Bankim and Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Tilak (quite apart from the Hindutva pantheon, Savarkar onwards). Hindutva may not have a pedigree, it has a long past. The reason it never got top billing earlier was because it had to contend with alternative and competing storylines – the one authored by Nehru being the principal one. But with the latter losing viewership, its TRP ratings have soared.
The strength of Hindutva lies in that it, superficially, masquerades as a rational argument, seemingly open to debate and denial. But, in actual fact, it is what Freud might have called dream work or discursive displacement. And as dreams go, it is far removed from reality. This is not surprising. Because anxieties, as any shrink will tell you, have no rational resolutions, whether they afflict the individual or a whole collectivity. That is why Hindutva is ultimately not about self-assurance but self-importance, not about acceptance of self but rejection of the other, not about quiet pride but exaggerated conceit.

493 The problem •  Monday, 25 June 2001
Philosophy of education is one subject that the NCERT has consistently neglected in the nearly four decades of its existence. Indeed, the Council has actively discouraged philosophical reflection on education by institutional mechanisms such as the wholesale adoption of behaviourist psychology as its primary orbit of research and publication. In the early years, sociology had some place in the Council’s sphere of activities; later on, that too disappeared. Intellectual or reflective activity that might put a break on the obsessive urge to dip every aspect of education in behaviourist solutions was shunned. The MLL (Minimum Levels of Learning) approach, fashioned out in the early nineties, was the ultimate achievement of this urge. It set to rest any desire or inspiration there might be among curriculum designers to refer to the ideas and legacy of teacher-philosophers like Tagore, Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and Krishnamurti. [The Hindu Personality in Education: Tagore, Gandhi, Aurobindo William Cenkner]
With unbounded enthusiasm, policy documents in education usually invoke the spirits of ancestors only for building the foundation for authorization. The Education Commission Report (1964-66) looks for parallels to the experience-based education from the Soviet Union but forgets that an experiment in Basic Education in pre-independence India; the Nai Taleem was an innovation of epic proportions in recasting Indian society in the medium of education. The fact that the great experiment produced no ripple effect even in the 1960s speaks sufficiently about the dominant mindset of official theorists and visionaries in education.
The elan vital of most of the succeeding documents in educational policy has usually been a withholding of all references to antecedents (except for purposes of self-occultation) with a sleight of hand. What is really invoked and dispelled at the same time is the imperfect past, to pave the way for a new enchantment kit. The prophetic Aurobindo of 1910 is drawn upon by the document to extol the first principle in teaching that nothing can be taught; the teacher is not an instructor or taskmaster but a helper and a guide (p. 2). 
Another ancestral spirit is Gandhi’s Buniyadi Taleem as a variant of indigenous response to the colonial system of education. But the document laments that the project failed (the elaborate explanation of failure is quietly presupposed) to emerge as a national alternative to the alien curriculum. mohammad talib.htm  

508 Books •  Tuesday, 27 November 2001 BRAHMABANDHAB UPADHYAY – The Life and Thought of a Revolutionary by Julius J. Lipner. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999. Brahmabandhab gradually moved away from moulding the Hindu for the Gospel towards ‘reconstructing his Catholic commitments on a Hindu basis.’ He repudiated the Advaitic concept of maya and karma, dismissed polytheism and the Puranic texts as libidinous and sexual, exchanged ‘powder and shot’ with Annie Besant on theosophy and rendered inadequate Brahmoism, Vivekananda’s neo-Vedantism and Dayanand’s Arya Samajic world view. Instead, Vedic philosophy began to appear to him as the acme of Hindu religious thought. […]
Brahmabandhab’s peers, notable luminaries of
India, had to reckon with his enigmatic presence. Among them were Kalicaran Banerji, Keshabcandra Sen, Pratapcandra Majumdar, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Debendranath and Rabindranath Tagore, Annie Besant, Aurobindo Ghose and Bipincandra Pal. Ashis Nandy in his Illegitimacy of Nationalism has shown that Tagore was so troubled by Brahmabandhab that, he modelled his heroes on his character in at least three of his political novels, Ghare BaireCar Adhyay and Gora. Tagore’s differences with and ambivalence towards Brahmabandhab were the externalization of a conflict within the poet’s mind, of attempting to resolve East and West, Hindu and non-Hindu, in so far it is a conflict, which besieged his western educated fellow Indians, victims of colonization, of civilizational interfaces, from wherein emerges a new nation. Sarbani Sarkar books.htm  
526, Jyotirmaya Sharma, Challenging Hindutva •  Thursday, 5 June 2003
One historical figure that troubles the votaries of jihadi Hindutva more than anyone else is Lord Buddha. Savarkar attributed
India’s decline and degeneration to Buddhism. Vivekananda and Aurobindo had a love-hate relation with the Enlightened One. The centre of this discomfort is the Buddha’s denial of the existence of God and of the soul, his ethics of non-violence and universal brotherhood, his rejection of caste and privilege, his indictment of brahminical Hinduism, his distaste for rituals and, most importantly, his all-embracing love for all beings. jyotirmaya sharma.htm  
509 Baljit Malik, Process, content and smokescreens •  Thursday, 10 January 2002
In the present political climate, after Nehru, we do need another discovery of
India. Maybe Nehru’s discoveries of the Indian ethos were incomplete. But the India of Golwalkar, S.P. Mukherji and Deendayal Upadhyaya was even more convoluted. It’s a pity that in all the hot air that is being blown over the content of education, there is hardly any mention of Tagore, Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurti. Their contributions to the process and content of education would certainly help to put Macaulay, Marx and the mandarins and mahants of the Sangh Parivar in their place. And, show us the way forward as we search how to engage with life even as we spend more time becoming couch potatoes and mousing around with computers and similar gadgets baljit malik.htm  

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