Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary nationalism transcends Hindutva

Commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s anniversary, the birth of a nation, and a new world BY OLGA REAL-NAJARRO AUGUST 14TH 2015

The first Indian leader to call for complete Independence from colonial rule was also a propounder of Indian spiritual values, and their role in a world union respectful of cultural individualities. His pluralistic, evolutionary nationalism transcends current Hindutva appropriations. Transpersonal psychology is recurring to his structure of consciousness, related to the core of Ken Wilber’s proposals and his spectrum of consciousness. 

The interdisciplinarity and cross-cultural outlook of his writings inspire today varied research in the fields of psychology, philosophy, spirituality, religion, and cultural anthropology. Even more, his suggestive philosophical proposals of intertwined ontological and social structures, contrasted occasionally with Teilhard de Chardin or Hegel, encourage new applied studies in leadership, integrative and community mental health, poetry, literature, and education.

Aurobindo outlines the evolution towards a new society, the social paradigm of the gnostic being. The human being is a being in transition, a living laboratory with complex stages of growth. His theory underpins the need for progress at a global level, and an increased awareness of the coexistence of diversity and oneness. To propitiate the development of this paradigm, the tools are yoga and education–the means to enhance a complex, inclusive, and synthetic thought, not detached from people and social reality.

Aurobindo is a controversial figure that raises both admiration and criticism. His applied integrative synthesis of the material and spiritual realities of social and individual structures provokes adherence and rejection. He doesn’t seem to fit either traditional Eastern or Western evolutionary theories. What calls our attention is the resilience of his thought, despite probing and critical scrutiny. How can we explain his acknowledged contribution to knowledge and his simultaneous criticism? His mystical empiricism explains why his philosophical work resists the passing of time, while some of his social and international proposals, unthinkable at the time, seem to have a place in contemporary political affairs.

Presently, the world is linked through global institutions, though they lack the spiritual, subjective connotations Aurobindo aimed for the development of the human being. His writings pose a reflection on the place of spirituality in education in a multicultural secular society, a place among twentieth century educational innovators, such as Paulus Geheeb, Rabindranath Tagore, Rudolf Steiner, or Innayat Khan. His political engagement with the framing of the Indian nation is still revised in comparative studies that claim why Gandhi is praised, and Aurobindo, at times, erased.

A major exponent of Indian English literature, and the creator of Savitri, the longest poem in English, he epitomizes the representation of consciousness, tradition and modernity, a precursor of Mulk Raj Anand, Nissim Ezekiel, and Anita Desai, among others. Culturally speaking, he anticipates Homi Bhabha’s perspective of his multiple levels of hybridity. His translations of the Vedas and Upanishads approach Indian tradition to the contemporary reader, offering a view of religion that transcends superstition and ritual practices, a timely contribution to todays’s fanaticism and misinterpretation of ancient spiritual proposals.

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

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