Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sri Aurobindo's Letters on Himself and the Ashram

Sri Aurobindo's Writings - Volume 35 PDF last updated: 17 May 11
Letters on Himself and the Ashram
Sri Aurobindo's letters between 1927 and 1950 on his life, his path of yoga and the practice of yoga in his ashram.
In these letters, Sri Aurobindo writes about his life as a stu­dent in England, a teacher in Baroda, a political leader in Ben­gal, and a writer and yogi in Pondicherry. He also comments on his formative spiritual experiences and the development of his yoga. In the latter part of the volume, he discusses the life and discipline followed in his ashram and offers advice to the disci­ples living and working in it. Sri Aurobindo wrote these letters between 1927 and 1950 — most of them in the 1930s. [ON HIMSELF, COMPILED FROM NOTES AND LETTERS. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Popular Edition, Vol. 26.]

On May 29, 1928, the former French colony of Pondicherry had an important visitor in Rabindranath Tagore, who had made a halt near its shores to call on one of its most famous residents, philosopher and revolutionary Sri Aurobindo, whom he had last met in 1907 and had dedicated a poem in praise of his struggles.
The 83rd anniversary of that historic meeting, between two of the country's foremost intellectuals, was observed at the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) by the World Peace Trust here on Sunday.
Secretary of the trust Dibyendu Goswami said that though the poet was older to Sri Aurobindo, he offered his poem in 1907 as a “salutation” to the philosopher.
Though Sri Aurobindo had retired into complete “seclusion” by 1928 and had avoided meeting even his own disciples, he made exception when it was learnt that Tagore had halted near Puducherry, on his way to Europe, in order to meet him. While the meeting itself lasted only for a few hours, it ended with Tagore reciting the poem that he wrote in praise of Sri Aurobindo once again.
Member of Legislative Assembly and former Minister K. Lakshminarayanan said that Puducherry was blessed by the fact that great men such as Sri Aurobindo and Subramanya Bharathi chose to live in the town and spread their message of love.
Though Tagore and Bharathi never met during their lifetimes, both of them understood each others' thoughts well and this was proved by the references that Bharathi has made of Tagore in many of his works, he said.
A photo exhibition, displaying rare pictures of Tagore's visit to Puducherry, was also held as part of the celebrations.
Member of Legislative Assembly Lakshminarayanan having a look at photographs displayed at INTACH on the occasion of the 83rd anniversary of Tagore's visit to Pondicherry on Monday. Photo: T. Singaravelou

Monday, May 30, 2011

God is seen as providing divine sanction for the most horrendous violence

Messianic belief has been central to the three Semitic religious traditions since their inception and it has remained a vibrant force throughout their history.  While providing comfort in times of crises and calamities, Messianic movements also demonise the enemy, seeing him as Satan or Antichrist.  In this conflict with evil, God is seen as providing divine sanction for the perpetration of the most horrendous violence against the "Other", which is identified as a collective enemy among whom "no-one is innocent."
Since 2004, Children of Abraham has been facilitating dialogue and connecting Muslim and Jewish young people from all over the world using a range of emerging online technologies. The program features guided thematic exploration of each other’s communities using Wiki, photography and discussion boards aimed at building mutual respect through understanding.
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Restore a more comprehensive relationship between these two ancient peoples and honor our common heritage, reaffirming the essential principles that lie at the heart of our faiths.
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We acknowledge and realize that relations between Muslims and Jews have a long and ancient tradition of respect and peaceful coexistence, as exemplified by what Jewish historians refer to as the Golden Age of Spain, from the tenth through twelfth centuries living under Islamic rule in al-Andalus. 
Only in the recent past have relations been tainted with hatred, mistrust and misperceptions, in part, due to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict. Some Muslims view the Israeli settlements and control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as an unjust occupation of the Holy Land. Jews openly debate these issues too. Some oppose and some support the creation of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. Our Abrahamic origins require us to be helpful in articulating the principles that support our work. Even when such a conflict continues to cause suffering for all involved, we believe that we can serve as role models for open dialogue among and between our two peoples.

Children of Abraham is neither a political pressure group nor a focus group for Palestine-Israel relations. We are a people-to-people organization whose mission is to work with youth. It is entirely consistent with our principles to express our support for the non-violent, peaceful and just resolution of this conflict (or any other). Since both Islam and Judaism espouse the sanctity of life and the peaceful resolution of conflict, we support negotiation and dialogue as the best way to end the conflict on peaceful and just terms for all people.
As an educational organization, we invite all kinds of people to participate in honest discussion and to discover who the "other" is. 
We take the view that if we allow our youth to get to know each other as human beings rather than as enemies – they may learn from each other the differences and similarities between their religions, traditions and cultures. We aim to help build a generation of Jews and Muslims who have mutual respect for two great religions that share the same Abrahamic root. We are building the bridge where our children can walk together with dignity and respect. We must remember that we create our own realities by the choices we make in the moment. We serve as a platform for these two communities to interact with each other without fear.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

History of armed struggle against the colonial rule

The study of biography of freedom fighter Jatindranath Mukherjee not only provides an insight into his life and times but a glimpse of India's struggle against colonial rule, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today as he unveiled a book on the revolutionary leader.
'Bagha Jatin -- Life and Times of Jatindranath Mukherjee', written by the minister's grandson and Paris-based scholar Prithwindra Mukherjee, has been brought out by the National Book Trust, which is also coming out with biographies of Bengal revolutionaries Surjya Sen and Kalpana Dutta soon.
"The story of Bagha Jatin as it unfolded in this book is mesmerising. Not only it gives a glimpse of the life of the ardent revolutionary who challenged the mighty British rulers but also analyses the history of armed struggle against the colonial rule at that time," the minister said.
The study of biography of freedom fighter Jatindranath Mukherjee not only provides an insight into his life and times but a glimpse of India's struggle against colonial rule, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday as he unveiled a book on the revolutionary leader. 
'Bagha Jatin -- Life and Times of Jatindranath Mukherjee', written by his grandson and Paris-based scholar Prithwindra Mukherjee, has been brought out by the National Book Trust, which is also coming out with biographies of Bengal revolutionaries Surjya Sen and Kalpana Dutta soon. 
"The story of Bagha Jatin as it unfolded in this book is mesmerising. Not only it gives a glimpse of the life of the ardent revolutionary who challenged the mighty British rulers but also analyses the history of armed struggle against the colonial rule at that time," the minister said. 
"One important aspect is that Bhagha Jatin fought bravely against the British but did not hate them," he said. He recalled how after the 1905 Bengal partition, many revolutionaries started favouring armed movement against the British and how after unification of Germany by Otto Bismarck, some of them tried to take its support to uproot the Raj. Mukherjee said the history of Congress is bringing out details of many groups active then, including overseas ones. 
Jatindranath, the architect of 'Jugantar', a key secret revolutionary group in Bengal, tried to import arms from Germany during World War-I for an uprising but was killed in a gunfight with British troops in Orissa in 1915.  Known for his valour, he earned the epithet of "Bagha (tiger) Jatin" in his youth after killing a tiger which attacked his friend. PTI

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sri Aurobindo was like a sun amongst the stars

Key to the Vedas - Page 152 - M. I. MikhailovN. S. Mikhailov - Vinoba Bhave, his follower, and many other contemporary Hindus state that his words were indeed prophetic. Aurobindo Ghosh `The recovery of the perfect truth of the Veda is a practical necessity for the future of the human race. ...
Indian Political Tradition - Page 221 - Mohanty D.K - 2002 - Sri Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950) Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was the most formidable representative of Indian culture and civilisation. His philosophy synthesising mysticism and realism, materialism and spiritualism carved out a unique place for ...
Aurobindo Ghosh, revolutionary and reformer - Shiri Ram Bakshi - 1994 - He Led A Simple Life In Accordance With The Indian Traditions. The Work Would Be Useful For Teachers, Students And Research Scholars In India And Abroad.
Indian political thinkers: modern indian political thought - Page 135 - N. Jayapalan - 2000 - 11 Shri Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950) Life Sketch When the Indian politics demanded the personalities sprang up. Maharishi Aurobindo Ghosh was like a sun amongst the stars. He was such a person that he was high above the calibre of Swami ...
Mao Zedong and the Communist Policies 1927-1978 - Page 50 - B. E. Shinde - 1992 - CHAPTER VII AUROBINDO GHOSH AUROBINDO GHOSH in his ashrama which later became a regular teaching house of spiritual knowledge, opened out an absolutely new ground of scientific explanation of not only the Gita, but also other spiritual ...
A Comprehensive Study of Education - Page 260 - S. Samuel Ravi - Sri Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950) INTRODUCTION Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, occupies a very important position among the contemporary Indian philosophers of education due to his wide knowledge of East and West, ancient and modern system of ...
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and Bal Gangadhar Tilak: the spirit of freedom - Suneera Kapoor - 1991 – Both Aurobindo and Tilak have made freedom as the central theme of their writings. Aurobindo regards freedom as the "wanfra"1 of his life. He says, "if to aspire to independence and preach freedom is a crime, you may cast me into jail ... Foundations of Tilak s Nationalism: Discrimination, Education and Hindutva Parimala V. Rao (Hardcover - Jun 1, 2010)
Indian revolutionaries: a comprehensive study, 1757-1961: Volume 1 - Śrīkr̥sha Sarala - 1999 - Aurobindo Ghosh A countless number of people crowded the High Court of Calcutta that day. ... Aurobindo Ghosh was standing in the enclosure for the accused. While arguing the case for him, Chittaranjan Das tore through the web of false ... Brahmabandhab Upadhyay: the Life and Thought of a Revolutionary.(Book Review): An article from: The Journal of the American Oriental Society Rachel Fell McDermott (Digital - Jan 1, 2003)
Educational Thinkers - Page 125 - V.R. TanejaS. Taneja - 2006 - 8 AUROBINDO GHOSH (AUGUST 15, 1872 — AUGUST 15, 1947) In the galaxy of saints, seers, sages and prophets in India, Aurobindo outshines all because of his versatile genius sprawling over the whole human situation — man individual, ...
Philosophy of history: some reflections on North-east India - Page 60 - S.C. Daniel - 2000 - CHAPTER 8 Sri Aurobindo's Theory of History: A Philosophical Investigation (Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, 1872-1950) This chapter makes an attempt to show that Sri Aurobindo has a full-blooded theory of history, and that it is a combination of ...
Modern Indian History - Page 6-17 - Mohammad Tarique - One of the earliest leaders who criticised the moderate politics systematically, in a series of articles entitled 'New Lamps for Old' was Aurobindo Ghosh. He did not like constitutional method of struggle based on English model and ...
Bengal divided: Hindu communalism and partition, 1932-1947 - Page 13 - Joya Chatterji - 2002 - 57 For an account of Aurobindo Ghosh's rather curious and exceptionally westernised upbringing, see AB Purani, ... 58 Barbara Southard, The Political Strategy of Aurobindo Ghosh', pp. 361 369. Also see Aurobindo's discussion of his ...
The Political Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo - Page 168 - V. P. Varma – 1990 - During the short but vigorously active, almost meteoric political career that Aurobindo had, 2 he earned a great and lasting reputation.3 ... Wrote Subhas: "The illustrious example of Aurobindo Ghosh ...
The editorial staff of this paper included BC Pal (the chief editor), Aurobindo Ghosh (who had recently come from Baroda to Calcutta as a college lecturer), Hemendra Prasad Ghosh (a zamindar from Jessore), Shyamsundar Chakrabarti (the ...
Research journal: humanities & social science: Volume 1, Issue 1 - University of Indore - 1972 - Political Vedantism of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh Dr. Ram Chandra Gupta, MA Ph. D: Sri Aurobindo Ghosh (born in 1872) was one of the most creative and significant figures in the Indian Renaissance Movement. He was gifted with surprising powers ...
Nationalism: its theory and principles in India - Page 168 - Parmanand Parashar - 1996 - name was Aurobindo Ghosh." According to Dr. OP Goyal, "From the very beginning. Aurobindo belonged to the Extremist School of Politics in India." Aurobindo dubbed the Moderates as Mendicants because they believed in prayers and ...
Saints, gurus and mystics of India: Volume 2 - Giriraj Shah – 1999 - Sri Aurobindo Ghosh Sri Aurobindo was born on thursday the 15th August 1871 about 5 AM at Calcutta in Bengal in a reputed Ghosh family of Konnagar. His father's name was Krishnadham and mother was known as Swarnalata. ...
Indian Dissertation Abstracts: Volume 7 - 1978 - KARAN SINGH : THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF SRI AUROBINDO GHOSH1893-1910, 1963, Supervisor : CJ. Chacko The Problem The group of extremists in the Indian National Congress contained some of the most extraordinary men of modern India such as ...
Contemporary approaches to value education in India - Page 202 - R. T. Nanda - 1997 - Chapter 11 Sri Aurobindo's Approach to Value Education Life of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950) Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was born on August 15, 1872 in Calcutta. His father Krishnadhan, had desire to anglicise him completely. ...
The Indian historical review: Volume 28 - Indian Council of Historical Research - 2003 - BIPIN CHANDRA PAL AND AUROBINDO GHOSH: A UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP* Devendra Swarup It was a unique relationship, not at the physical level but at the highest intellectual and spiritual level. It was a relationship between two true ... Social and political orientations of Neo-Vedantism: Study of the social philosophy of Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Bipin Chandra Pal, Tagore, Gandhi, Vinoba and Radhakrishnan S. L Malhotra
Literature, caste and society: the masks and veils - Page 164 - S. Jeyaseela Stephen - 2006 - Another rabid extremist who had taken shelter in Pondicherry too was Nagaswami Aiyar who had close contacts with Aurobindo Ghosh. In early 1910, Aurobindo Ghosh had arrived in Pondicherry and men like VVS Aiyar and Subramania Bharati ...
The universalistic thought of India: from the Rigveda to Radhakrishnan -  Ramnarayan Vyas - 1970Shri Aurobindo Ghosh Aurobindo was not only a great political fighter, philosopher and mystic. He was a great thinker who drew great inspiration from India's past and made some constructive contribution in the realm of social thought. ...
The nationalist movement in India and its leaders - Vidya Dhar Mahajan - 1962 - Aurobindo Ghosh Shri Aurobindo Ghosh, the sage of Pondicherry, shot into prominence during the agitation against the partition of Bengal. As the editor of the Bands Matram, he took the message of the Congress to every home. ...
Political Theory & Thought - Page 444 - Sharma Manoj - Hence, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh developed a positive programme of political action against the British. His objective became the complete freedom ...Besides his revolutionary writings, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh had bcome a member of the secret ...
Imperial Japan and national identities in Asia, 1895-1945 - Page 32 - Li NarangoaR. B. Cribb - 2003 - REVOLUTIONARY PROPAGANDA: AUROBINDO GHOSH Even though revolutionary conspiracy from 1902 onwards involved different persons, one figure was constantly in the background as organizer and instigator: Aurobindo Ghosh (later Sri Aurobindo, ...
Secular democracy: Volume 4 - 1971 - One important feature of this revivalist element in Aurobindo Ghosh's thought was his claim that nationalism was a ... In this connection it is significant that CR Das, while defending Aurobindo Ghosh in the Aliporc Bomb case said: "The ...
Indian literature in English: critical views - Page 26 - Satish Barbuddhe – 2007 - This extraordinary fervour — the zeal of a new nationalism — came uponAurobindo Ghosh like a divine frenzy. ... The nationalism of Aurobindo Ghosh was a burning religious emotion, the voice of God in man.17 Sri Aurobindo was arrested ...
nirmalya said, May 7, 2011 at 7:15 am
I also do not prefer calling some one Sri Aurobindo especially when the word Sri was only added sometime after 1926 and remained with him for the next 24 years. it was genuinely insignificant for him. Moreover the addition of `Sri’ does not connote anything special for him as he had gone without it from 1872 – 1926 i.e. almost 54 years. As he dropped his `Acroyd’ middle name when he boarded the ship to India, so also I favor dropping the word `Sri’ . He was a teacher and a guide and we are all his students in the classroom of this world. He was referred to as A.G. in Baroda College and also National Council of Education Bengal (Ref. Aurobindo Ghosh: B Debsharma). Balai Debsharma was one of the first 19 students of AG at the National Council of Education Bengal. As I understand he also did not like that he should have devotees and even went to the extent of prohibiting prostration in front of his picture inside the Ashram. But unfortunately things did change. Please appreciate that we are dealing with a person who was beyond us and of course beyond his time. So it is better to try in finding him in us and not just show obeisance a thing which A.G. never liked given his brilliant education and the reading of all things around.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ashis Nandy, T.N. Madan, & Rajeev Bhargava

The change began when Ashis Nandy first assaulted the old, orthodox, Nehruvian secularists with his critique of the European modernity in the mid-1980s. He promoted a return to tradition, wherein we might find the roots of a religious tolerance of a different kind, which might better resonate with the masses than the hegemonic language of Western secularism. A year later, T.N. Madan, the distinguished sociologist, wrote that secularism was having a problem in India because the realms of the sacred and secular continued to be deeply intertwined in Indian tradition. Secularism would only succeed in India if we understood it to mean inter-religious understanding and an equality of citizenship rights; he added that we should “take both religion and secularism seriously, and not reject the former as superstition and the latter as a mask for communalism and or more expediency.”  
This attack did not go well with the Nehruvian secularists, who roundly chastised Nandy and Madan for feeding into the hands of the Hindu nationalists. In the early nineties, Partha Chatterjeee, the eminent social scientist at Columbia University, questioned if secularism was, in fact, the right way to stop Hindu majoritarianism. The Hindu right, he argued was perfectly comfortable with the institutional processes of the modern state, and the main issue was not ideology, he felt, but to protect the cultural rights of the minorities, and this could best be done through toleration “premised on autonomy and respect for persons…but made sensitive to the varying political salience of the institutional contexts.”  
Neera Chandoke, the political scientist at JNU, responded by arguing that the concept of toleration was not enough and that minorities needed supportive structures in order to protect their cultural identity. The writer, Mukul Kesavan, and others rightly worry, however, that this sort of thinking will only delay the day when we might call ourselves equal and common citizens of one state. Rajeev Bhargava, the editor of an excellent volume of essays on Indian secularism, distinguishes between political and ethical secularism, and says that to exist in a more liveable polity, we as citizens need to agree to what is right rather than what is good.   Let's just be content with living together, rather than living together well (which is, of course, another project, and a valid one too.)  
So, how do we begin to privatise religion? The answer, I think, lies with the deeply religious but moderate voices in each religion's mainstream, who must come forward and proclaim once again that true religion has nothing to do with political life. The failure of our contemporary public life is that we do not hear these voices, but only hear the shrill voices of extremists at both ends. It was not always so. Earlier, we had sensible public figures who were also deeply religious. Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Vivekananda used to speak with credibility on behalf of the vast majority of religiously minded Indians. Today, what we have is an unfortunate polarization between an influential and articulate minority of secularists and the vast majority of silent, religiously minded Indians. Neither takes the trouble to understand the other, and what we have as a result is a dialogue of the deaf. We need to hear the many reasonable voices of good sense within the Hindu and Muslim religious communities, surely, there must be a few courageous individuals who will speak up before their faith is totally hijacked by the terrorists!  
Following Rajeev Bhargava, our secularists should learn from the American philosopher, John Rawls, and distinguish between public reason and secular reason. While public reason limits itself to political and civic principles, secular reason is broader and deals with a secular person's moral doctrines and first philosophy. Our secularists need to be aware of this distinction and refrain from introducing secular values and secular reason into political debate. This is not easy to do, I realise, because liberal political values are intrinsically moral values and closely intertwined with moral doctrines.  
Above all, let's learn from our own Emperor Ashoka, who ruled when Hindus and Buddhists were fighting each other in mid-third century BCE, and who declared in his famous Edict XII,   “The sects of other people deserve reverence…By thus acting, a man exalts his own sect, and at the same time does service to the sects of other people…He who disparages the sects of others…inflicts the severest injury on his own sect.” Here is a wonderful insight for our times: you damage your own religion when you malign another's and secularism is not only good for governance but also for religion. Those who call for a Hindu nation not only harm the nation, they also damage Hinduism.