Saturday, August 30, 2008

Growing trends of bullshit, belligerence, and boorishness in American life

THE SANITY SQUAD - Special Edition: 'WHY WE HATE US' from Dr. Sanity by Dr. Sanity
On Thursday,
THE SANITY SQUAD hosted a very special interview with author Dick Myer whose book "WHY WE HATE US: American Discontent in the New Millennium" is a best-seller. Meyer was a reporter, producer, online editor, and columnist at CBS News in Washington for more than twenty three years. He is now the editorial director of digital media at National Public Radio. Publisher's Weekly had this to say about the book:

In this study of American social self-loathing Meyer addresses why Americans have come to hate themselves (and each other) at a time of national prosperity and relative peace. In compelling, wonderfully cranky and comic prose, the author contends that the radical social changes of the 1960s and the recent technological revolution have drastically altered the pace of life, leaving Americans morally and existentially tired, disoriented, anchorless, and defensive.

In arguments familiar to any sociology student, Meyer describes how the rise of freedom of choice in nearly every aspect of American life has been accompanied by the enervation of traditional social institutions (Our communities have been neutered, and our traditional, inherited moral, religious, and aesthetic sensibilities have been discredited). Pointed critiques of political theater, celebrity culture, the rise of marketing and media conglomerates and the decline of manners elaborate on the growing trends of bullshit, belligerence, and boorishness.

Meyer is gleefully critical and very sincere in his concern for the state of American life; his practical suggestions urging readers to turn the tide of self-hate and phoniness are a must-read for anyone fed up with modern life

Friday, August 29, 2008

Subsidiarity principle should be invoked for giving powers to higher levels of government like the Hanseatic League of old

Responses On Kashmir from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
In this post I will respond to comments received on my earlier post on Kashmir entitled "Against Reichwing Rant."

Tusar N Mohapatra favours the "creation of about one hundred states that are substantially autonomous who, in turn, form a EU like structure on purely voluntary basis."

In my opinion, it would be better to have free trading and self-governing CITIES and TOWNS – not like the EU of today, which is a Super-State, but like the Hanseatic League of old. The principle of SUBSIDIARITY should be invoked for giving powers to higher levels of government.

Next, Vipin Veetil is apprehensive about the separatists favouring collectivism. On the ground today, the Kashmiris are united about opening the Muzaffarabad road for trade. Kashmiris today want free trade.

Secondly, although Sheikh Abdullah was a socialist, the common Kashmiris in Srinagar are all traders – and highly skilled traders too, if I may add. As I sipped kahwa on my houseboat deck, boatman after boatman approached me in their shikaras to peddle their wares. There is a floating market on the Dal Lake. My houseboat owner was a trader of carpets – and Kashmiri carpets are second only to Persian carpets – and on his office wall there was a sign in Urdu and English which said that "Allah favours the honest trader, who will surely enter Paradise to be in the company of the Prophet himself." I have no doubt that a liberal movement in the Valley can result in changing the name of Lal Chowk into Neel Chowk – "neel" meaning blue, the universal colour of liberalism.

Lastly, let me take on the miserable comment from a reader who goes by the pseudonym "Opinor," who says: "Kashmir competing with Australia, NZ economically? What a joke .. those Kashmiris cannot even figure out what is good for themselves."

What condescension and what hopelessness! What supreme arrogance! Actually, many Asian nations have effectively competed with the West, starting with Japan and going on to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and now Malaysia. As an independent free trading and self-governing CITY, Srinagar has all the potential to rise quickly to modern western standards.

Incidentally, the Kashmiris know fully well what is good for them. It is the government of India – The State – that is a totally clueless entity. It does not know what is good for India. It thinks employment guarantees, loan waivers and "education" are what we need. When all we really need are roads, highways and expressways. And Liberty. Nothing else.

Opinor is as clueless as The State. He should visit Srinagar to see the Kashmiris for himself. So should Vipin Veetil – who could spearhead the campaign for renaming the central market of Srinagar NEEL CHOWK. [12:02 PM]

Hitler was very interested in religion, spirituality, mysticism and the occult

Demasking the Messiah on the Road to St. Paul
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ. --John Toland

The most prominent pre-existing template Hitler relied upon was that of the "messiah" and the "group." Obviously Hitler invented neither of these categories. Looked at in a certain way, the group is a function of the messiah, and vice versa. (I'm using "messiah" as a psychoanalytic term of art, not in a specifically theological sense; it would be even better if I could develop abstract symbols for group and messiah, as in the new testavus for the restavus.)

On the one hand, the messiah is produced out of the collective longing of the group; but on the other hand, the group coalesces and organizes itself around the nonlocal axis of its founding messiah. All cultures -- even wholly secular ones -- will have a messianic figure at their foundation (a culture is always a cult). Look at what the Soviet Union did with Lenin, the Chinese with Mao, or Cuba with Castro. At some point, the human slides off into the messianic, just as reality shades off into fantasy and projection.

For example, in the Islamic world, Mohammed serves the messianic function. Obviously Mohammed is a very different sort of figure than Christ, and was "conjured," so to speak, by a very different mentality (i.e., Jews vs. pagans). But once in place, the messiah exerts an enduring influence on the group. As a result, Muslim values are very different from the Judeo-Christian values that hold our culture together from within.

Look at America. Our messianic figures are the founders, or Abraham Lincoln, or a few others. Our country -- half of it, anyway -- is still unified around those figures. But the other half either distorts those messianic figures (e.g., they were nothing but slaveholders, or self-interested elites), or else creates new messiahs around which to coalesce...

It so happens that Hitler was very interested in religion, spirituality, mysticism and the occult. What survives of his library contains many such books. He clearly read them carefully, as they are filled with underlining, exclamation points, and margin notes. In one of them, he underlined the following passages:

Where did Jesus derive the power that has held his followers for all eternity? Through his absolute identification with God.... God and I are One.... His life is mine; mine is his. My work is his work, and his work is my work.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Neuroscience (including psychology) poses a challenge to religions that emphasize divine law or revelation

Is this anything or is this nothing?
from The Immanent Frame by Brent A. Field

The New York Times opinion piece by David Brooks, titled "The Neural Buddhists," drives a wedge between mystical and "revealed" religions by citing recent philosophical and scientific scholarship. Brooks suggests that neuroscience (including psychology) poses a considerable challenge to religions that emphasize divine law or revelation. Brooks is right to predict that neuroscience will profoundly affect our culture's thinking. Neuroscience forces us to revise our concept of self. And I agree that the investigation into universal moral intuitions raises interesting questions about the emergence of religion. My guess is that its most significant cultural contribution will be, simply, increased happiness. […]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oliver Cromwell established a ‘Commonwealth’ in 1649 after the English Civil War

IE + IT = ED? from The Memory Bank 3.0 by keith
Is informal economy plus information technology a path towards economic democracy?
What follows is frankly autobiographical. It is an attempt to excavate the intellectual and political connections between my early and later work in economic anthropology...

Oliver Cromwell established a ‘Commonwealth’ in 1649 after the English Civil War. It meant a government formed with the common consent of the people and it was intended to replace the old regime of absolute monarchy and aristocratic rule. British democracy never recovered from the counter-revolution of 1660 (the restoration of the monarchy). But the American democracy subsequently retained the spirit and sometimes the name of that original Commonwealth. And it persists as the title of the largest and most diverse voluntary association of nation-states in the world today, following the break-up of the British empire. In the work of John Locke, whose political philosophy did so much to inform the English-speaking democracies, commonwealth referred not just to the form of government, but to what we might call ‘the public good’, the welfare of all citizens. Today the great corporations command our unequal world with all the haughty power and indifference to human welfare that was once the hallmark of the aristocracy in pre-revolutionary France. For us, however, ‘Commonwealth’ can no longer refer to anything less than democratic self-government by humanity as a whole; and economic democracy, in thousands of measures, large and small, is indispensable to achieving that end.

What then does the term ‘common wealth’ mean in the context of the community currency movement? What is the ‘wealth’? Not the money itself, for sure. Money, conceived of as a commodity with its own value to be hoarded and deployed as an instrument of power, as capital, is the opposite of open money. Nor is the collectivization of such capital in the manner of twentieth century socialist regimes remotely appropriate either. Rather, the wealth to be mobilized is the human creativity in all of us, resources that have been ill-used for too long, because of the money regime we have been forced to live by. This creativity belongs to each individual, but it can only be realized in society, together. Society should be conceived of as a multitude of levels of association and many of these could take the form, as one of their dimensions, of a community with its own circuit of exchange and money. Economic democracy in this limited sense would point us to more inclusive forms of polity; and then perhaps the dream of abundance that has long inspired humanity would be realized as more than just the riches of a few. Workshop: ‘Clusters, Network Organization and the Informal Economy’, Bologna, 29-30th June 2006 in the series, Rethinking Economies.

There are enough smiles for a thousand mornings

A courtyard inside the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry, India. (Nathalie Raïssac-Jarrard)
At a retreat in India, lessons on yoga and life By Kyle Jarrard
Published: August 19, 2008 PUDUCHERRY, India:

The first sound in the morning is crows, right at 5. Then we hear waves off the Bay of Bengal slapping the shore. In the garden, a man meditates while walking quickly over the lawn of the ashram guest house in the dark. Along the shore, other men pace the beach in the silver jetty light. Fishing boat lanterns like stars ride the black sea south to north.

My wife and I have come to this old French comptoir (formerly Pondichéry) in southeast India mostly for the yoga. The classes used to be held in one of the many parcels of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram scattered across the colonial city. But for this retreat, there's a new venue and to get there you have to be on Ajit Sarkar's bus by 5:45. There are 20 or so of us, nearly all from France.

Ajit, in his 70s now, grew up in this famous ashram with his parents, who went into the retreat founded and inspired by the yogi and guru Sri Aurobindo and his vision of universal consciousness and peace. In this idyllic world, Ajit learned everything from ballet to track to gymnastics, but especially yoga, a skill he has taught with acclaim for decades both in India and in France. His official retirement since 2003 is a fiction of contentment.

It's the school he's building that keeps him going, in addition to being in top form himself. We the chosen students, by contrast, can barely see straight in the shadowy dawn as the bus heads off through Puducherry. For the first few blocks the streets have French names: Rue Dumas, Rue Suffren, Rue Romain Rolland. Then we leave town and head south over fetid canals and clogged streams, through trash-heaped neighborhoods thumping with all-night Hindu festival music while men in dhotis stand around sipping tea out of plastic goblets. Cows with brightly painted red and green horns meditate in the middle of the road as we plunge into the lush Tamil Nadu countryside.

Vellai Thamarai: Imagine going to a school named White Lotus. It's not yet entirely finished but is supposed to be by January. Nearly every villager in Cinna Kattupalayam lines the road to greet our bus with cries of hello and bonjour. On a Monday morning, the children are beside themselves at the prospect of going to school. There are enough smiles for a thousand mornings.

Route to peace and prosperity is free trade

Reciprocity and Hindu anger Francois Gautier August 19, 2008

Once upon a time, there was a tiny village in South Arcot district in Tamil Nadu, called Kuilapalayam. Now Kuilapalayam is like hundreds of villages around Pondichery: it is peopled with Hindu Vanniars, poor, living off agriculture, usually a few meagre fields of cashew nuts. But then Kuilapalayam just happened to be in the midst of Auroville, the international township founded by the Mother of Pondichery based upon the ideals of the great yogi and revolutionary, Sri Aurobindo.

Thus Kuilapalayam prospered: Its inhabitants learned trades needed for the city: carpenters, masons, craftsmen, and some of its children attended Auroville's schools and were educated along with Western kids and in time graduated and went into white collar jobs. From a few bicycles 40 years ago, Kuilapalayam today has motorcycles, tractors, cars, vans, cable television, cell phones, etc. The main road of Kuilapalayam, which used to be only shady huts, became lined with fancy shops which sold everything, from vegetables to handicrafts.

And then the unavoidable happened: A Kashmiri from Chennai heard about Auroville and the prosperity of Kuilapalayam and understanding that he could make a packet with so many Westerners passing though Auroville, he opened the usual shawls and carpets shop in the village. Now Kuilapalayam never counted a Muslim amongst its population in its 1,200 years of recorded history; but in true Hindu tradition, this one was welcomed and nobody raised any objection, although he was competition for some of the other shops.

Our Kashmiri Muslim, seeing his success, called his cousin in Kolkata, who came and opened another shop; and that one phoned his friend in Mumbai, who also landed up and opened a third shop. Still nobody found anything to say. Kashmiris are sociable fellows and they quickly made friends with Westerners, so business was booming, till they were seven or eight Kashmiri shops in Kuilapalayam. And again nobody complained, even when the fellows started doing their naamaz in the open. "Isn't God everywhere and isn't He Krishna, as well as Allah?" said one of the villagers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Give up the racial superiority notion and the connected word Arya, used by Aurobindo Ghosh Tuesday 1August, 2008 Write to Nandhi Varman Forward this link ALL MEN ARE EQUAL :9 AUROVILLIANS NOT FROM HEAVEN

Race has no genetic base. All are equals. The racial superiority is a myth. Times of India dated 1st November 2004 wrote:

“The genetic basis of race and the superiority of one of them over the other died a sudden death during the 1936 Aryan supremacy Olympics in Berlin. That was when Jesse Owens, a black US athlete, exploded in the track and field events. He won four gold medals and broke a number of world records simultaneously. Hitler refused to shake hands with him and instead stormed out of stadium in disgust at the star’s triumph over his much hyped Nordic Caucasian team. This opened the most disastrous chapter of the modern 20th century eugenic movement. It also led to the renewed politicization of race.”

Hitler might have been defeated but his mentality of imagining that his race is superior over others is still a disease not erased from human minds. The Aurobindonians imagine they are superior human beings, having got the visa to enter the land of super men and super women. Even in the defeat of Hitler it is not the armed forces of the combined democratic forces that were responsible, these men in ashram, will write their own World History. The lady with occult powers flew in her wings, all the way from Pondicherry to Berlin, sneaked into the mind of Hitler and made him open two fronts against Russia and America at the same time instead of defeating one after the another, and this occult powered master-plan, led to the defeat of Hitler the Auro-dreamers will write in their own version of world history. Their history cannot be accepted as truth. Similarly their dream to attain superman status just by chanting, praying and yogic exercise and sexercise is not realizable...Let me quote from my reply:

“So to accept humanity is one and the world is one, science had to unearth mysteries. The common gene in every human being had also proven that the theories of race are culture oriented. While race is disproved, both Aryan and Dravidian theories have to die. Perhaps Dr. Swamy wants the Aryan concept to die, and if that were the case, one can welcome to some extent his wishful thinking. The Second World War waged by Hitler propounding the supremacy of the Aryan race, which he demonstrated by the killings of millions of Jews, still remind us that whoever claims supremacy over fellow human beings in the name of the race of his birth will be taught a befitting lesson by mankind.”

This is what I wrote. Give up the racial superiority notion and the connected word Arya, used by Aurobindo Ghosh. We will shed the counter-word, the armour against superiority among human beings theory, namely the Dravidian shield. As science progresses when our intellect gets enlightened why cling to words and wrong notions. Similarly the word Hindu. Today it denotes only a religion. It was derived from the word Indus, denoting the people of Indus Valley Civilization. We believe that Indus Valley Civilization is Dravidian civilization. Then the word Hindu should only mean us the Dravidians. If we concede, the invasion, in larger context it will also include Aryans, but now it is being used as a word only to describe a religion. Religions had different names. Saivaism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism, Sikkism etc. The common word to mean Indian people, Indus Valley people is in usage narrowed to a religious context. Otherwise we have no enmity to any words. Its meaning, its usage and how it fits us in the humanity, alone matters. If we are to be slaves under the Order of Manu, if few claim they are above all in humanity, there comes the conflict. The Dalit uprising seen all over India is our fault. We, Dravidians separated them from our villages and built caste walls. We borrowed the Aryan mentality, degrading our kinsmen, which now witnesses Dalit assertion in Indian politics and society...

Conclusion: Tamils are the worst sufferers of the racial supremacy theory. For centuries we have suffered and still bleeding under the war machine of genocide. Let the curse called race be sent to catacomb. Let us all unite as human beings. But let Indian government not allow a group to imagine they are super species experimenting to reach the next ladder in evolution and further push Tamils in their own soil into slave mentality and make them second class citizens.

N. Nandhivarman, General Secretary, Dravida Peravai Category: Politics Permalink

Monday, August 18, 2008

Goody has excavated a new anthropological vision of our world

Aug 10, 2008 The theft of history
from The Memory Bank 3.0 by keith

The thesis of the present volume was first aired in The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive (1990) and the violence done to Asian societies by Euro-centric historiography received a comprehensive rebuttal in The East in the West (1996). Since then Goody has tackled Islam in Europe (2003) and Capitalism and Modernity (2004). Reflecting a general trend in anthropology, Africa has dropped out of focus in favour of a critical attempt to get western scholars to re-examine themselves and to acknowledge that the grounds for asserting a long-term superiority to Asia are non-existent.

So what are the specific arguments of this book? Perhaps the most significant result of the West’s global hegemony has been to impose a universal system of time-space on the rest of the world. The Theft of History kicks off with a brief sketch of how this came about, emphasizing the distortions of world history that have accompanied this development. Europe’s claim to having diverged from a Bronze Age civilization whose heartland was in Asia through the ancient Greeks and Romans goes back to the Renaissance, but it took on particular salience in the age of western imperialism. Goody sifts patiently through the arguments for their unique achievements in culture, economy, politics and law, showing that writers like Moses Finley (1973) and Karl Polanyi (1957) rely on the invocation of notions like ‘genius’ or arbitrary categories to shore up inconsistent and erroneous propositions. He refuses, however, to go as far as Martin Bernal in Black Athena (1987) who derived much of Greek culture from Egypt and claimed that the separation of ancient Greece from the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean was an invention of racist imperialism in the nineteenth century. Goody’s reasons for maintaining distance from Bernal, apart from feeling that his linguistic evidence is shaky, are that Europeans have no more of a monopoly on ethnocentrism than of other cultural traits and that they adopted racist attitudes to their Mediterranean neighbours long before they were in a position to conquer the world...

To return to the empirical fact of Western imperial domination in 1900 with which I began, this can now be seen as the midpoint in an unparalleled transformation of world society over the last two centuries. In 1800, the world’s population was around 1 billion, having grown slowly over ten millennia of agricultural production; only 1 in 40 human beings then lived in an urban settlement; almost all the energy people used came from animals and plants; as Goody points out, China was still the world’s economic powerhouse and Europeans had only a toehold on most of the planet. By 2000, the world’s population had grown to 6 billions, doubling in the previous forty years, while Europe’s indigenous population went into reverse; almost half of humanity lived in cities; and this was made possible by increased use of machines as converters of inanimate energy, once coal and now oil. The latest stage of mechanization was a digital revolution in communications whose symbol is the internet. Before that, the most powerful social movement for a century had been the anti-colonial revolution — the drive of peoples forced into world society by western imperialism to establish their own direct relationship to it. It seems quite plausible today that America and Europe will soon be replaced as the engines of world society by countries like India, China, Brazil and Russia whose peoples were not long ago subject to the kind of cultural condescension whose premises Goody undercuts so comprehensively in this book.

Jack Goody is right to point out that, among his anthropological contemporaries, only Eric Wolf has attempted world history on a similar scale, especially in Europe and the Peoples without History (1982). He acknowledges with approval Wolf’s decision to coin the term ‘tributary states’ for a range of pre-industrial societies that might otherwise be named ‘feudal’, ‘Asiatic’ or something else. Between them they have kept alive the anthropology of unequal society that Lewis H. Morgan (1877) and Friedrich Engels (1884) took from Rousseau (1754) and passed on to twentieth-century Marxists like Gordon Childe (1942). Modern ethnographers have been highly critical of western complacency, but their examples have generally been taken out of the context of world history as a consequence of rejecting methods that were tainted by association with Victorian imperialism and racism. Whatever the limitations of his approach, Goody has excavated a new anthropological vision of our world that is bound to become even more salient as the present century unfolds.

What about Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga?

MAINSTREAM Home page > 2008 > Quest for Justice Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 35, New Delhi
Quest for Justice Monday 18 August 2008, by Avijit Pathak
Book Review Justice: Political, Social, Juridical, by Rajeev Bhargava, Michael Dusche and Helmut Reifeld (eds); Sage Publication, New Delhi; 2008; p. 325; Price Rs 650.

We live in a world that continues to surprise us with its paradoxes. Yes, it is a world that promises justice, human dignity and equality. Yet, we find ourselves amidst structures, institutions and everyday practices that continue to degrade our humanity, and reproduce the ethos of violence, hierarchy and exploitation. There are, however, socio-political movements; there is a quest for justice. No wonder, social scientists—particularly those who seek to contribute to the making of a just society—want to make us sensitive through their analytical and creative interventions. Herein lies the relevance of this volume. It emerged out of a conference, which was held in Jaisalmer in November 2003. Its ten essays—written by eminent scholars—make us reflect on diverse dimensions of justice.

To begin with, its three essays that engage with religion are bound to strike the imagination of the reader. Take, for instance, Kunal Chakrabarti’s penetrating analysis of Brahminical discourses. Chakrabarti is a gifted historian. He argues convincingly how Brahminism—a system based on inscriptive status, purity and pollution, and hierarchical gradation of people—negates justice, privileges forward castes, and legitimates differential punishment to different categories of people for the same offence. Yet, a system of this kind sustains itself through the ‘twin conceptions of karman and transmigration of the soul’.

For example, it is argued that when a Sudra does his duty properly, his suffering comes to an end with his death and he enjoys residence in heaven; or the soul, travelling from one body to another, is born as a brahmana. Not solely that. As Chakrabarti adds, ‘Brahminism had to create at least one platform—the domain of moksha—where, theoretically, all members, irrespective of caste and gender distinctions, are equal.’ But then, as he cautions us, all these theoretical postulates, concessions, or even alternative discourses have not been able to negate the very foundation of Brahminism.

Only the radical bhakti movements of the medieval period fundamentally critiqued the principle of Brahminical social organisation from within, but these were eventually absorbed by the system itself. The concept of social justice in India has undergone endless revisions, but seldom without reference to caste. The principle of natural inequality, devised by the brahmanas, continues to define the system till today. Chakrabarti’s arguments make us confront a pertinent question:

  • Is it ever possible for Hinduism to innovate itself, fight the ugliness of Brahminism, and create a new agenda for an egalitarian social order?
  • What about Swami Vivekananda’s ‘practical Vedanta’, Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘dialogical Hinduism’, and Sri Aurobindo’s ‘integral yoga’?
  • Were these radical interventions or merely illusory remedies in an otherwise oppressive Brahminical system?

Possibly another essay on these issues relating to radicalisation of Hinduism could have completed the discussion which Chakrabarti initiated with such great rigor.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Actually, in markets, rewards can never be equal. Nor can they be fair. Nor do they reward merit

Against Amartya... And "Social Justice" from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
Today, the arch-socialist, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, will be addressing Parliament on the topic: “Demands of Social Justice.” ...
Let us reflect on the fact that the concept of “social justice” implies that the market is somehow unjust. There is thus a role of The State in rendering market outcomes more just. The idea is that The State must “redistribute” the gains we make in markets. Only that will be “just” according to the socialist camp.
Actually, in markets, rewards can never be equal. Nor can they be fair. Nor do they reward merit. Professors are poorly paid; labourers earn a pittance; movie stars, models, sportspersons and other performing artistes rake in fortunes while classical musicians can barely make ends meet and tattoo artists earn more than portrait painters.
Socialists do not like this inequality – which they call ”unjust.” They want The State to institute social justice in order to create that “socialistic pattern of society” they yearn for.
Yet, this is a sentiment more suited to tribes than to developed market societies. In a tribe, the chief has to carve out the animal killed in the hunt so that all members of the tribe get an equal share. This is far removed from life in cities, wherein we are individuals not answerable to any chief. We take risks with our capital without asking anyone’s permission. And we partake in the gains or losses without seeking the intervention of any local leader. The market economy is Individualistic. The socialist idea is “atavistic” – seeking a return to primitive times. The socialist mind-set is therefore primitive – unable to grasp modern life.
We have been listening to the socialists for over 60 years and should have by now seen through their humbug. They have never helped the poor. On the contrary. They have perpetuated poverty. If millions of poor people are finally climbing out of poverty, buying mobile phones etc., the credit goes to the market, not The State.
So if you truly want to help poor people, raise a shout for the market. And throw out “social justice.”

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sri Aurobindo's perception on education in its international dimensions on the one hand and that of the eternal human values on the other

Sri Aurobindo on Education
The true basis of education is the study of the human mind -- infant, adolescent and adult.
Sri Aurobindo
Indian thinkers have dwelt on the philosophy of education and all related aspects like knowledge, intelligence, mind and the functions of teaching and learning to which there are ample references in the texts and to the illustrious teachers of yore like Sri Krishna, Vidura, Bhisma, Dronacharya in the Mahabharata and Vashista in the Ramayana. At a much later stage, one encounters teachers like Susruta, teaching Ayurveda to his students, drawing out the characteristics of an ideal teacher and an ideal student. Buddha and Mahavira have been great teachers. It may even be worthwhile to cull out the principles of teaching and learning embodied in their teachings from the available textual evidences. The quality of Indian discourse on Teaching and Learning has been widely acknowledged. There are many more examples during the medieval times of effective teachers, both of the religious and vocational kinds, which may be taken as the main foundations of educational thoughts of the present times.
In the modern India too there have been many original thinkers on education, who have felt the need for a review of the educational system introduced by the British Raj, creating loyal servants of the government. There was a search for a better system of education in the country among the reformers and intellectuals. In this process, a good deal of thinking, combined with actual experimentation on various alternative models of education had taken place. Unfortunately, their contributions have not been adequately reflected in the educational decisions during recent times. Among others, we can remember the contribution of Vivekananda, Tagore, Aurobindo, Tilak, Zakir Husain, Radhakrishnan and above all, Mahatma Gandhi. It is high time to review the principles of education expounded by them and to examine their validity in the present context.
In order to sensitise the teacher educators of the country to the indigenous thinkers and to develop short and meaningful reading material covering each of the indigenous thinkers of education, the NCTE decided to publish monographs and to organise interactions through seminars of teacher educators from all over the country. The monographs are meant to be self-educational material. They can also be useful for initiating discourses among the pupil teachers on various aspects of education covering each of the indigenous thinkers. The first publication Gandhi on Education was received very well by the teachers and teacher educators. It was followed by another entitled ‘Zakir Husain on Education’. The present monograph covering the thoughts of Sri Aurobindo has been written by Prof. Manoj Das an eminent scholar and author of international repute.
Sri Aurobindo has been widely acclaimed as a modern seer and a Vedic scholar. He had headed the first National College of Education of Calcutta and had written extensively on the subject of education. His approach to ‘Integral education’ is in itself a unique concept. Education of the body, mind and spirit are each expounded in his writings on education, but their integration is even more significant. He has also dwelt on the social and psychological aspects of education. His thought has been put to practice at Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s educational programmes, The Auroville and several other schools of the country.
"The first principle of teaching is that nothing can be taught". This statement of Sri Aurobindo condenses a whole lot of theories of education and a new form of pedagogy closer to integral approach to education. It puts learning above teaching. It makes learning a self-starting, self propelling process. It redefines the role of the teacher from a mere possessor of information to a facilitator and a guide for the learner. I am not aware of any other profound statement in teaching which has such a permanent validity.
I wish to quote Sri Aurobindo here to reflect the wide horizon of his perception on education in its international dimensions on the one hand and that of the eternal human values on the other :
"The world-state will give its inhabitants the great adventures of peace, economical well being, general security, the intellectual, cultural, social activity and progress. None of these are in themselves sufficient to create the thing needed. For that certain psychological elements would have to be present in great strength. First as religion of humanity much more powerful, explicit, self-conscious, universal in its approach than the nationalists religion of the country, secondly, the clear recognition by man in all his thought and life of a single soul of humanity of which each man and each people is an incarnation and soul-form, thirdly, an ascension of men beyond the principle of ego and yet without destruction of individuality; fourthly, a principle and arrangement of the common life which would give free play to individual variations by which the soul of man lives and grows great."
His expectations from education are laudable and at the same time, they reflect an ideal to be pursued. It reflects the values of a modern world not scuttled by narrow perceptions and drab materialism. It throws light on several other aspects of education which deserve intensive analyses, discourse and validation.
I am grateful for the efforts taken by Prof. Manoj Das for writing the present monograph highlighting Sri Aurobindo’s Thoughts on Education. He completed the monograph within a short time inspite of a rather crowded schedule during the 125th year commemorative celebration of Sri Aurobindo. Prof. C.H.K. Misra, Consultant, NCTE, deserves appreciation for co-ordinating this project.
The monograph has covered many aspects of the subject meaningfully. I hope the teacher educators of the country will find it relevant and useful.
- J.S. Rajput Chairman National Council for Teacher Education

A Goddess in her lifetime cannot even reform her followers Saturday 16 August, 2008 Write to Nandhi Varman Forward this link WITHDRAW APPROVAL TO AUROVILLE:

We want the Government of India to withdraw the approval given to the Auroville Universal Township Master Plan by the Ministry of Human Resources Development vide letter dated No: F 27-3/2000 UU dated 12th April 2001. The people’s revolt in Nandhigram of West Bengal over setting up of an industry acquiring lands indicates that even if employment opportunities knock their doors, people are not willing to barter their traditional right over their soil. The Amarnath land row is a head ache for our nation. In both cases after things went beyond control, Government of India is now frantically searching for a panacea. The Master Plan [Perspective 2025] brought out by Auroville Foundation and Town and Country Planning Organization, Government of India Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, needs intensive scrutiny before agitations erupt...

Dravida Peravai comments: The Honorable French Lady Mirra Alfasa during the French colonial time would have easily set up such a Utopian City in the French colony of Pondicherry. Why this vision did not appear to her at that time? All these experiments she could have carried within Pondicherry with French Government support. Further she could have made Aurobindo Ashram as laboratory where all fighting instincts of man could be conquered? If she had succeeded within Aurobindo Ashram, she could have argued we have succeeded here and this experiment we want to carry on wider scale, hence we need a township.

I can quote her from her own words recorded in cassettes in French and brought out in 6000 pages of Mother’s Agenda in English. Did she say that when her eyesight became dim, all around her are cheating her? She had said. When she was in her old age, she had cited many examples on how people around her betrayed her? A Goddess in her lifetime cannot even reform her followers, wants Government of India to sanction a Universal Township, where “over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking of pleasures and material enjoyments, need of spirit will take precedence. In Puducherry people throng due to the need of liquor based on rectified spirit, and her vision, mission and ashram had not lifted Pondicherry from the bane of alcoholism. Her own comments in 13th volume of Mother’s Agenda that if I build hospital for people’s benefit, illicit children are being delivered there, proves the Poet Bharathidasan’s poetic attack in his epic Kudumba Villakku on the immorality prevailing there to be truth. When she cannot succeed in creating a new species in the ashram, what need arises for a Universal Township. Unless it is for creating a neo-colony nearby with French leaving their original colony Puducherry, there is no need for a universal township to import people from abroad. British, French and Portuguese colonialism ended, and Indian people were happy. Why should we import people from various countries unless it is for creating a neo-colony? If the noble goals of Auroville are for humanity, Indians too are part of humanity, not all are atheists like me, and most are spiritual guided by various saints and gurus over centuries. Are these people unfit to become supermen and women?

The Mother left a will in cassette and writing on how Ashram should function after her, and the ninety year old Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, Director of Physical Education of Aurobindo Ashram in his words had said that after mourning period they will listen to that cassette and run the Aurobindo Ashram according to her directives. Till date where that cassette had vanished is mystery, and years back investigative Tamil journal Nakkeeran had exposed this mystery. Our question is if the sadaks trained by Thiru.Aurobindo Ghosh and Ms.Mirra Alfasa failed to run an ashram as per her last will, how can Government of India expect a Universal Township will be run in accordance with her dreams.

2. The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, is a ministry under a cabinet elected by the people of India. It should be impartial. It must plan for the development of all urban cities in India, and not shower its grace to only one Universal Township. Does the Government thinks all Indian cities should stink and Indian people breathe polluted air, while a town of 1619 foreigners including 472 supporters of those foreigners, should have a green belt evacuating Tamil villages either forcibly or cunningly purchasing the lands to ease the locals out of their soil. The Government of India is representative of Indian people. It must think of Master Plans that will beautify all Indian cities, and not show undue partiality to support only one township comprising people who will not vote in Indian elections, who are not tax payers but are people to avail concessions in the name of so many activities, which thousands on non-governmental organizations in India are already pursuing. Puducherry is on the verge of loosing all cultivable lands. In future the Union Territory is not going to produce even a bagful of food grains. All lands are becoming concrete jungles. Same is the case of Chennai and most cities in India. The Government of India wants Indian citizens to live in congested concrete jungles, but it wants a green jungle belt to shield a town of special species from pollution. It is shameful and ridiculous.

3. The Ministry which has Poverty Alleviation in its title must visit the Tamil villages where the Auroville Universal Township will come up, and see the poverty in which neck deep these Tamils have sunk with no one to redeem. There is nothing to do with poverty alleviation, and it is whimsical to sanction a township that never will work for poverty alleviation.

Auroville belongs to nobody in particular, by these words Tamils are kept away, saying “to live in Auroville one must be a willing servitor of Divine Consciousness” The imported foreigners only are willing servitor to Divine Consciousness, and Secretary of Auroville Foundation had to just rubber stamp that certificate issued by the residents assembly comprising the foreigners with more than two thirds majority. The words of their Mother that there has to be a place that no nation could claim its property, clearly indicates, that like Vatican, they want city state status, keeping all sovereign countries out of reach. For this only fools in Indian Government could nod like the Sultans and Maharaja’s of past who extended red carpet welcome to East India Company and French India Company.

N. Nandhivarman. General Secretary Dravida Peravai Category: Politics Permalink

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sri Aurbindo's message is full of positiveness and hope for a free and united India

I share with you Sri Aurobindo’s message for India's independence. It was broadcast from the All India Radio on the 14th of August 1947. ( It is still of relevance. To me its importance seems to have multiplied. Posted on: Aug 14, '08
The 62nd Independence Day of India.

VintageWine48 said: Thanks for the lovely message from Sri Aurobindo. His speech is very relevant especially point No. 5 which is also my own personal dream. Great post. August 15, '08

CancerSA said: Srian, a brilliant post, thank you! Sri Aurbindo's message is full of positiveness and hope for a free and united India. A man who truly visualised and saw the potential and strength that lies within India! It's never too late as long as we have HOPE and we have more people like him, the India he spoke of, can still be a reality! August 15, '08

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sri Aurobindo pronounced through his many works that “All life is Yoga”

Guru and freedom fighter Thursday August 14 2008 02:01 IST CHENNAI Aug 14, 2008

“INDIA is free but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom…The wisely drastic policy of the Constitutent Assembly makes it possible that the problem of the depressed classes will be solved without schism or fissure. But the old communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that the Congress and the nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest…By whatever means, the division must and will go. For without it, the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and even frustrated.”

Watching the happenings today in the country, we can understand the prophecy in the words. We still have time to catch up before the predictions happen in toto. They were uttered by none other than the spiritual master Sri Aurobindo who pronounced through his many works that “All life is Yoga.” His birthday falls on Independence Day – August 15.

As editor of the newspaper Bande Mataram, he put forward the idea of complete independence from Britain. Arrested three times for sedition or treason, he was released each time for lack of evidence. In 1910 he withdrew from politics and retired to Pondicherry in French India to focus on his inner life and work. Over the next 40 years he developed a new spiritual path called the Integral Yoga or Purna Yoga. Its ideal was to transform life by the power of a supramental consciousness.

He founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926 with the help of his spiritual collaborator, The Mother. Some of his best known works which represent his vision of life are The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita and most importantly People throng the ashram in Pondicherry and other centres to meditate on his birthday.

Write a completely new Constitution and nominate a new Constituent Assembly

Rediff Home » India » News » Independence Day Special 2008
We do not belong to past dawns, but to the noons of the future August 14, 2008 Claude Arpi on the prospects for India.

August 15 is a special day for me. It is not only the day that India became independent some sixty one years ago, but it is also the birthday of the person I consider the greatest Indian of modern India: Sri Aurobindo.
The great nationalist leader and yogi not only initiated the Purna Swaraj campaign in the first years of the 20th century, but at the Surat Congress in 1907, he led the Nationalists (then called the Extremists) against the Moderates who wanted to compromise with the British. The Indian National Congress eventually split, but when it was re-established, there was no question of cohabitating with the imperial power anymore.
On August 15, 1947 Sri Aurobindo celebrated his 75th birthday. It was a day for rejoicing; India was free at last. But it was not entirely a happy day: India was divided. Ever since, the tragedy of Partition has loomed over the sub-continent. The nation has made tremendous progress in the fields of economy, development or education, this milestone remains heavy around the subcontinent's neck.
In 1947, Sri Aurobindo wrote: 'India is free but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom... if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest... By whatever means, the division must and will go.'
The recent events in Jammu are a violent reminder of the 'unfinished task.' The division has not gone and has become exacerbated with the increasingly open role played by the ISI in Pakistan's (and its neighbour's) affairs.
Sri Aurobindo brought me to India. I have stayed in Bharat for the past 35 years, because I still believe in his vision for this nation and for this land. In the early years of the 20th century, he wrote:
'India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an Anglicised Oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma. We do not belong to the past dawns but to the noons of the future.'
But where is India, sixty-one years after Independence?
India, 61: The icons that make India
Some say India is shining, others will tell you, India is incredible, India is the nation to reckon with in the future, but this India is still far from where she could and should be.
Just look at what is happening in the Lok Sabha, crores of rupees are exchanged to keep the government running (or to derail it). And it is merely the syndrome of a reckless race for money where rich industrialists become kingmakers and fixers, the heroes parading on the covering page of 'national' magazines.
I often wonder what people can do with so much wealth? Does it bring happiness? The king of Bhutan was right when he decided to measure the growth of his tiny nation by the Gross National Happiness standard.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article entitled The Ten Things I Hate About India. Today, I would add many items to my list. The main one seems to be a lack of general interest about India as a nation. Whenever you read newspapers or watch a television programme, this is quite striking. Each one thinks only for his/her own parochial interests. The question is how to change a system which is disintegrating by the day.
With Independence Day approaching, something occurred to me. The only solution would perhaps be to start afresh from scratch. It would mean to restart the process of building a new India as it was done on August 15, 1947. The first task would be to write a completely new Constitution and for the purpose to nominate a new Constituent Assembly. It would comprise not only of legislators, but also people from all walks of life who have been successful and made India proud in the past (very few legislators have made India proud).
The first thing to change would be the parliamentary system of governance. If one wants a strong and united India which could play a meaningful role in the concert of nations, a Presidential system seems more fitting. The President could choose his council of ministers amongst respected Indians having expertise in their own field. They would be answerable to a House of the People.
Look at the situation today, is it not ridiculous that a former Chief Election Commissioner is rewarded with the ministry of sports? Later, 'experts' will be surprised that India has fared badly in the Games!
The number of ministries should be limited, why have a ministry of mines just to attract the covetousness of politicians? So should the age of the ministers be limited, so that they retire into the sanyasa ashrama (or with their grandchildren, if they prefer) after the age of 65. Look at the dynamism of China where this is implemented!
The President would, of course, be elected by universal franchise.
Further, reservations would be abolished and replaced by a fair and efficient system of scholarships for the poorer sections of the society irrespective of their background. This would remove the caste-based discrimination encouraged by the Constitution today, which reinforces the caste system.
Of course, a special effort will have to be made for the remote regions of the Northeast or Ladakh or the other less developed parts of India.
It would probably be good to send some bureaucrats and other 'deciders' to China to study how they have developed their infrastructure. I was recently told that the Chinese government has just built splendid roads in the Nyingtri district of southern Tibet. These roads can cater for the development of the area for the next few decades. Ironically, this area is located north of the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh where an antediluvian Inner Line Permit system is still in force.
Another advantage of writing a new Constitution would be that it would not only bring a new breath of air to hundreds of antiquated laws based on the old Constitution (often drafted during the British Raj). Articles like Article 370 have only created problems for the nation during the last 50 years. The wrong sense of separateness it gave to militants, the Hurriyat and others in the valley will be gone. An issue like the current Amarnarth conflict could not have existed without this sense (or non-sense) of 'we are different' given by Article 370.
It would be an interesting experience. India could use her successful experiences in several fields to take a new leap forward. Just after Independence, while many players wanted to reject imperial power, most had been trained and educated by the same power. It resulted in a system which was (and remains) a carbon copy of the British one.
But what will be needed are men with a vision. In February 1950, though in a different context (he was commenting on a project for a new constitution for then French-ruled Pondicherry), Sri Aurobindo wrote words which sounds contemporary: 'If nothing is changed in local conditions and freedom is left for a certain type of politicians and party leaders to make use of their opportunities to pervert everything to their own profit, how are they to be prevented from prolonging the old state of things... misgovernment and corruption and things will become worse even than in the past. Only a strong control ... a period of political discipline in which the population could develop public spirit, the use and the right use of the powers and the democratic institutions placed at their disposal, could ensure a change for the better... It cannot be ensured by a paper constitution; the right type of men in the right place could alone ensure it.'
Men of vision means men who can see decades ahead (like the Chinese for infrastructure), and this in all fields of life. Take environment. If we don't have men of vision to take the lead, the planet will not exist in 50 years, more than 50% of its inhabitants would have died due of the lack of potable water.
Take the differences between the rich and the poor, how long will India accept that individuals build 30 floor mansions when others are still starving. I was amused recently when I read a grand project of Juan Manuel Baroso, the European Union president who wanted to invest 1 billion to 'save' the planet from starvation. At the same time, an individual builds a house for himself in a supposedly poor (or emerging) country.
Take research. Suppose India would invest the cost of nuclear (or thermal) plant to undertake research in the field of solar energy. She has enough brain power to make a breakthrough within five years and find a cheap way to produce and store electricity. Only the will and the proper set-up are necessary. The debate on nuclear deals would then become obsolete.
But there is something deeper than the external and political organisation. India has to re-find her true roots. It is fair to once again quote Sri Aurobindo on the occasion of his birthday:
'There are deeper issues for India herself, since by following certain tempting directions she may conceivably become a nation like many others evolving an opulent industry and commerce, a powerful organisation of social and political life, an immense military strength, practicing power politics with a high degree of success, guarding and extending zealously her gains and interests, dominating even a large part of the world, but in this apparently magnificent progression forfeiting its Swadharama, losing its soul.' This was a message given to the newly opened University of Andhra Pradesh in 1948.
He believed that youth was the only hope for this nation. It is still true today. columnist Claude Arpi, a dentist by training, moved to Auroville from his native France 34 years ago.

Sri Aurobindo's gameplan

M. N. Kundu HT Thu, Aug 14

Significantly, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was born on August 15, the date of India's political freedom, the goal to which he initially dedicated himself. But his spiritual realisation then envisaged the greater freedom of humanity at large, a humanity trapped in the limitations of body-mind bondage.
He realised that man is a transitional being evolving towards a divine life of higher consciousness, harmony and joy and rediscovered the path of spiritual evolution in the modern world. His evolutionary metaphysics is a fascinating statement.
In the beginning the omnipotent Consciousness or God willed, "Let there be light, and there was light". This light, said Aurobindo, is the Agni of the Rig Veda and the solar fire of modern science.

Thus we find will-force and mass-energy dualism at the root of the universe. In the evolutionary process energy or vitality developed the mind-principle, which is latent in matter, evident in plant-life, prominent in animals and better manifested in man.
The mind, having some limited properties of consciousness, is the missing link between matter and consciousness. Thus man is capable of achieving higher harmony and peace by elevating his present mental state to a higher level, which Sri Aurobindo called 'supramental' or 'overmind'.
If the mind is perpetually tuned to the supramental state it can effect a total transformation of our existence on earth to a higher level of consciousness, he said. Since natural evolution is a slow process of ascent, Sri Aurobindo worked out a systematic method of spirituality, which he called 'integral yoga' for expediting transformation in the mental, vital and even physical existence of man.

He wanted to bring alive the supermind as a faculty of the mind humanity presently functions with. Sri Aurobindo thus contributed to life as we live it now with the great potential offered by his concept of integral yoga.
Its purpose was made plain in his talks and writings and with the help of his inspirational associate, Mother Mira, he set out a plan for existence that went beyond mere creed to the inner essence and higher capability of mankind.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Sri Aurobindo Ashram never does philanthropy on its own or help devotees in their philanthropic acts Friday 8 August, 2008 Write to Nandhi Varman Forward this link YOGA FAILS SCIENCE SUCCEEDS

The workers of Aurobindo Ashram Hand Made Paper unit wanted to take out a procession to press for their demands including the minimum wages, but the police which had permitted numerous processions since independence, where slogans will be raised, insisted no slogan should be raised. To show to the world that freedom of ex-pression is curtailed, I led the procession with covering my mouth with black flag. Thereafter in every given opportunity I had questioned the rationale of giving income tax exemptions to Aurobindo Ashram Trust, which runs numerous sub trusts, which are commercial in nature but where minimum wages prescribed in law is not paid. They enjoy concessions by never give due concessions to working class.

In 1996 when the current phase of internal strife started, I supported the Aurobindo Ashram Inmates Association, which broke into two resulting in creation of Aurobindo Ashram Beneficiaries Association. Then some well wishers of Aurobindo Ashram approached me with requests not to hit at Ashram and wanted to know what my grievances are. To them I told that “the ashram is availing income tax exemption on the pretext of doing medical research but till date ashram had not constructed a medical hospital with update technology to cater to the people of Pondicherry. Let them start constructing a hospital, I will shelve other issues and observe silence. Ashram was not willing to build a hospital at that time. Later when SUN TV interviewed for a 30 minutes programme against Ashram, there too I stressed that all people of Pondicherry are going to Chennai Apollo or Vijaya hospital, and Ashram should build ultra modern hospital for people of Pondicherry.

In the same interview I revealed that the devotees of Aurobindo Ghosh, from Madurai were looking for a suitable place within the city to construct the Eye Hospital, and they approached Ashram, which had taken government land for 99 years lease in many places of the city, to provide them land at concession price. They were told to cough up market rate, so the current Aurobindo Eye Hospital is situated 12 kms away in a village called Thavalakuppam. There I said Ashram never does philanthropy on its own or help Aurobindo devotees in their philanthropic acts. In my interviews in media I had compared the yeoman service rendered by Mother Theresa and all mutts in India, and had attacked Ashram to be the only one that never does philanthropy. This selfishness of Ashram in not being of anyway helpful to people only invites public ire whenever any issue crops up in public against Ashram. Thereafter I started questioning that yoga is mere mental exercise like physical exercise and it is not a matter of medical research, and all exemptions given on that pretext are withdrawn. Physical Education Department headed by Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya exists, but there is no Spiritual Education Department, if at all their goal is towards that. It is widely reported struggle of flower vendors, Tamil women, who were first prevented from selling flowers to make a living because Ashram Trust wanted to sell flowers from their gardens, and their ultimate partial victory, is another example of the immature minds that rule the ashram currently.

To re-open the debate on exemptions, I would like to bring to public notice that the Director General of The Indian Council of Medical Research in its letter dated 27th December 1976, Ref: No: 18/1/74-AA [II] had raised valid objection for the continuance of exemption given to Aurobindo Ashram under section 35[1] [ii] of the Income Tax Act 1961. To that letter P.Counama, then Managing Trustee replied on 2nd March 1977. Let me quote in verbatim selected passages, where Mr.P.Counama argues for continuance of exemptions.

P.Counama states “Aurobindo Ashram was organized to realize the distinctive aim of Aurobindo’s yoga which is radically different from the aims pursued by the traditional yogic system. Stated very briefly, the difference consists in fact that Aurobindo does not consider the spirit as something separate and antithetic to life in world, but as its source and sustaining principle, as an omni-present reality which, though now hidden behind a veil of ignorance, is yet pressing for its progressive evolutionary manifestation in life itself. The aim of Aurobindo’s yoga is to completely remove this veil and seek the fullest manifestation of the spirit in life and in matter so that earthly life, instead of remaining dark and dolorous as it has been till now, turns into a perfect image of spirit by its own spiritual transfiguration. The traditional yogas, on the contrary consider life, to be an illusion or a vanity, see no connection between the life and spirit admit no possibility of life shedding its age old burden on suffering and evil, offer no hope of a divinely perfect life on earth “

Dravida Peravai Questions:

1. They had sought exemption to do medical research, which aims at proving Aurobindo’s yoga, is radically different from traditional yoga. The letter of Counama is dated 1977 and we are in 2008, so far 31 years had passed. What research the Ashram had done to prove all other Yogic systems in this country, while its yoga alone is scientifically proven to be the best? Have the debated with other ashrams or have they published scientific literature to prove other yogis are wrong or have they done any research at all?

2. The belief in this country, not by us but by theists, is that on death spirit departs from body, and reincarnation or rebirth will follow, for spirit ceases to evaporate with death of body .Have the ashram trust in this 31 years done any medical research availing income tax exemptions to life this veil of ignorance and to illuminate the minds of people that spirit and matter are inseparable, and with body laid to rest spirit also is laid to rest?

3. By what kind of medical research under which scientist’s guidance did Aurobindo Ashram Trust in 31 years made life shed its age old burden on suffering and evil? Have they brought divinely perfect earth into a reality by their researches, if any?

4. The life on earth is dark and dolorous, so Aurobindo Ashram was exempted from tax to carry out medical or other researches. Have they illuminated Pondicherry during power cuts? Have they found out a spiritual power that can replace nuclear power to produce electricity for our country? There would be no necessity to India to go after nuclear deals, if only Aurobindo Ashram Trust had obtained a spiritual deal to drive darkness on India, if not on Earth.


Ray Kurzwell, the recipient of the $ 500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize, which is billed as a sort of Academy Awards for Inventors, is a 65 year old scientist, who wrote the book “ Fantastic Voyage :Live Long Enough to Live Forever ” He sees “ human intelligence not only conquering its biological limits, including death but completely mastering the natural world. In my view, we are not another animal subject to nature’s whim, he said. This inventor and computer scientist in his book is serious about seeing humanity attain immortality, a seismic development; he predicts is no more than 20 years away. His predictions, Kurzwell said, are based on carefully constructed scientific models that have proven accurate. In 1990 he wrote a book “The Age of Intelligent Machines “, wherein he predicted the development of world wide computer network and of a computer that could beat a chess champion.

Kurzwell writes of millions of blood cell-sized robots which he calls nanabots that will keep us forever young by swarming through the body, repairing bones, muscles, arteries and brain cells. Improvement of our genetic coding could be downloaded from internet. We won’t even need a heart, so goes his theory.

Dravida Peravai comments: Aurobindo Ghosh dreamt but did not scientifically prove in controlling human cells by integral yoga. He and his companion wanted to defy nature, control the mind in cells and arrest aging to live forever. Both failed. Their followers who got tax exemptions must have done scientific researches to prove their dreams turning them into realities acceptable and beneficial to society. The Aurobindo Ashram Trust or its brainchild Auroville, so far had created numerous trusts only to avail tax exemptions. Most of the objectives of these trusts have no relevance to the dreams and goals of their Masters. Just like any other non-governmental organization they thrive here, with no connectivity with either the philosophy or the goals of their Masters. Hence we can only advice them to accept Ray Kurzwell as their Guru, since he had at least attempted to prove scientifically a goal beneficial to humanity. The remarkable difference in Ray Kurzwell’s approach is his noble mind to make his research downloadable by internet and to benefit whole humanity. This nobility stands in contrast with the selfishness of the super humans with super mind who live in Ashram or Auroville only to keep all fruits for themselves without openly sharing with humanity, if not at least with Tamils who live in their nearest vicinity.
N. Nandhivarman General Secretary Dravida Peravai Category: Science Permalink

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The object of Vico's "new science" is to disclose the "ideal of eternal history"

Home · Your account · Current issue · Archives · Subscriptions · Calendar · Classifieds · Newsletters · Gallery · NYR Books Volume 41, Number 18 · November 3, 1994
Vico for Now By Stuart Hampshire
G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern by Mark Lilla
Harvard University Press, 255 pp., $39.95
Once established, monotheism surely has a lot to answer for. Disorder and unregulated variety were no longer acceptable, either in morality or in nature. As soon as one sovereign creator was recognized, it became natural, even logical, to suppose that God's intentions both governed the destiny of humanity and determined a unified master plan for the whole natural order. So both Christians and Jews supposed, as they turned their backs on pagan polytheism, which had allowed a plurality of moral adventures. With monotheism came the belief that there should also be a coherent set of natural laws, with no loose ends unaccounted for, no waste or muddle or mere randomness in nature.
In his magisterial system Leibniz explained this necessity more than half a century before the last, and still uncompleted, edition of Giambattista Vico's Scienza Nuova in 1744. Leibniz wrote at a high point during the theodicy that brought Christianity and the new natural science together. There is, in his view, a sufficient reason for all the sequences of things that come to exist in space and time. With our limited minds we cannot always find the reasons, but God certainly wanted his chosen world to be the best of all possible worlds, and nothing could possibly stand in his way. Similarly, the moral order, which ought to direct our passions, comes from a single source, and in the long run there should be no inexplicable variety of moral cultures. There must be one set of moral laws willed by God, as there is correspondingly one set of natural laws.

Professor Lilla finds an alternative Christian theodicy in Vico. Among recent commentators on Vico he can claim some originality for starting with Vico's theology and deriving from it not only Vico's theory of knowledge and theory of language but also his famous theory of history and of its cycles. Benedetto Croce and Collingwood concentrated their attention on Vico's glorification of historical knowledge at the expense of the physical sciences, and on his praise of poetry and the imagination as opposed to the clear and distinct ideas of the intellect. I am persuaded that Professor Lilla comes nearer to Vico's true interests than Croce ever did, and that he is right to insist that the Scienza Nuova is a new justification of the ways of God to man, and is designed to replace the theodicies of Descartes and of Leibniz.
Vico thought that to fall into the sin of anachronism, and to interpret the literature and law of the past in peculiarly modern terms, are the worst of vices in a historian or a philosopher. Professor Lilla is sufficiently a Viconian to avoid this trap and to trace the leading ideas of the Scienza Nuova back to Vico's earlier works on Greek and Roman literature and on Roman jurisprudence.
Vico was born and lived and died in Naples, on the periphery of Europe and a long way from Paris. He never acquired, or wanted to acquire, the tone and methods of argument of Fontenelle and Bayle or of any other of the plain and disciplined thinkers of that time. Only Hobbes was a possible model for him. In the Leviathan, as in the Scienza Nuova, prose can still rise above itself and in a flash burst into a sort of poetry with some grim image or digression. The Scienza Nuova is exaggeratedly without evident structure, often inspired in its insights and its imagery, with absurd excursions into etymology and into fanciful ancient history, and lacking the ordinary constraints of evidence and scholarship. The style of the book is what it should be according to its own argument: a poetical prose that breaks the mold of enlightened reasoning.
Philosophers of a severely analytical cast of mind find Vico unreadable because his thought is full of intellectual curios and marvels and sudden flights of fancy. A true admirer will be happy with such observations as "The ancient Roman law was a serious poem and the ancient jurisprudence was a severe kind of poetry." Vico meant this seriously, and the Scienza Nuova itself has its passages of severe poetry: for instance, in its descriptions of the ultimate decadence of tired civilizations and of the anarchy that can return to ruined cities and scattered populations, when citizens regress to primitive violence. But beneath the bric-a-brac of strange learning, there is a clear theme.
Vico's argument, as Professor Lilla reconstructs it, starts from the one God the Creator, the God of the Jews and of the Christian Church, who replaces in human thought the casual polytheism of the dispersed communities of the pagan world. The recognition of one transcendent God and creator entails that a single history for mankind as a whole must also be recognized: this single history Vico calls "the ideal eternal history of the gentile nations." The decisive transhistorical, or ideal, events in God's relation to mankind are, first, the Fall, which leaves only the Jews with the direct access to God through their prophets, and, secondly, the Tower of Babel, which deprives mankind of any single language and culture and hence of any single set of institutions for communicating with God and for reflecting on its history, the history of mankind as a whole.
Mankind is splintered and, in a later phraseology, alienated from itself, in many separate cultures, with their diverse languages and institutions and forms of self-consciousness: each culture experiences its own history in its own style. The Greeks, in Vico's view, thought of their history in terms of the awakening of reason, while the Romans thought of their history as the development of civic authority and of traditions of public virtue.
The language of Greek reasoning and philosophy was for the Greeks the model of all reasoning, and the language of Roman law was for the Romans the origin of all law and of all sound government. The object of Vico's "new science" is to disclose the "ideal of eternal history" which lies behind the separate histories of the gentile nations and to show that it reveals a deep structure which is common to them all. This universal and eternal history, not manifest and immediately legible in day-to-day events, is the story of God's providence, and it is Vico's claim in his new science that, better than Saint Augustine in The City of God, he can discern God's providence at work in history, and particularly in the history of languages and literature and of social rituals and customs.
In ancient history there is the providential transition from the dominance of the Greeks' rational speculation and search for truth to the dominance of Roman law and respect for authority. The Romans provided a perpetual example of the successful search, not for metaphysical truth, but for the authority and certainty that are attainable only through stable institutions and inherited traditions of law and serious citizenship. Civil society requires the certainties and reassurances of well-established customs and habits of thought, and it is only undermined by the restless and arrogant inquiries of philosophers.
Directly contradicting Descartes, Vico argues that the natural sciences can never produce knowledge which is certain and secure, because God made the natural order, and fallen man can never grasp his vast designs. In the natural sciences we can achieve some subjective confidence and general agreement in our representations of natural processes, but we can never claim ultimate truth for them, because they are only the representations of limited and uncreative minds. One can only know, in the full sense and beyond doubt or the possibility of correction, one's own intentions and creations (the principle of verum factum), and for this reason human beings can acquire authentic and intimate knowledge of human creations, of their languages, histories, literatures, and cultures. In their imaginations, they can enter into the human world of Homer's Iliad and into the rituals and myths and symbolisms of pagan societies. They can all be reconstructed because they bear the marks of a common humanity, and not of the divine. As children we have all played with poetic fictions and rituals, and with the symbols of family romance and of war.
Natural languages in Vico's view are supreme among human creations and they are not God's work. They are the contingent products of the imagination of fallen men dispersed in time and place. They are not the ideal "mental language" that "uniformly grasps the substance of things feasible in human social life." The design of natural languages and their histories are open to our reconstruction, and we can trace the concepts they represent back to the primitive imagery from which they are formed.
The study of mankind and its dispositions and powers is properly called philology, and its essentially historical methods are completely different from the methods of the natural sciences, which seek to represent, however imperfectly, an order of objects that is independent of their representation. In the humanities we project ourselves imaginatively into ancient and primitive cultures, and try to reconstruct in our own minds the movements of imagination that were natural to them.
It was this rigid distinction between the humanities and the natural sciences that made Vico seem indispensable to Michelet and to Croce. He was used as a defense against the rising tide of positivist philosophies of knowledge from the early nineteenth century until today.
Professor Lilla's point is that it is a distortion to separate Vico's vindication of the humanities from the theology at its foundation, and specifically from the metaphor or myth of the Fall, which for Vico was the first truth of metaphysics. Lilla recalls that Bacon is accused by Vico of failing to recognize that "all that man is given to know is, like man himself, limited and imperfect." The contrast between the understanding accessible to imperfect, limited, and scattered human beings and divine understanding applies not only to knowledge, but also to language. We have to assume, Vico argued, that lurking beneath the many natural languages that have been formed through the centuries, there is a deep structural language. This language is universally shared, and includes within itself the fundamental metaphors and myths that enter into the constitution of civil societies at all times and everywhere: for example, the myth of thunder in the sky as a sign of divine anger, engendering fear and shame, and of the expulsion from the garden of innocence as the beginnings of morality; and all the images associated with the universal relationships of family life.
Hobbes and Locke failed in their reasoning to understand that the transition from brutishness, the state of nature, to civil society is inconceivable without the mediation of the family. These northern Protestants had turned "the order of ideas and things" and the "ideal eternal history" on their head, Vico believed, and by so doing opened the door to moral skepticism. The family as an institution is intermediate between nature and culture, the indispensable bridge between them. Unmarked and unsheltered by a definite status within the family, individuals become nonentities or madmen, like Lear on the heath. There is no conceivable way of learning to talk, and therefore of learning to think, except through the ritualized interchanges of family life.
Secondly, authority and legitimacy, which hold a nation together, are associated with homely patriarchal emotions, and that is why any stable civil order comes to rest upon them. If the legitimacy of monarchy imagined as paternity is not the basis of the state, then the fraternity of the ideal republic, a memory of Roman virtue, is always apt to be recalled as an image of true citizenship, as later in the French Revolution. Only in a phase of final decadence, toward the end of a civilization's cycle, does a restless probing into the philosophical basis of obedience shake individuals free of their ties. Then we can be sure that a regression to barbarism is not far away, "the barbarism of reflection," in Vico's striking phrase. Benthamism and rational calculations of measured welfare would be for Vico the ideal case of the "barbarism of reflection."