The Genesis of a Philosophical Poem: Sri Aurobindo, World Literature and the Writing of
Sri Aurobindo Ashram (India)
Abstract. Philosophical poetry has had a long and distinguished history in different cultural traditions. These traditions have always interacted to some extent, but today the barriers between them have largely broken down. Savitri, an epic in English by
the early twentieth-century Indian philosopher and poet Sri Aurobindo, is a notable outcome of the confluence of Eastern and Western civilisations. Based on a creative
reworking of a legend from the Sanskrit epic, the Mahābhārata, it incorporates in its neo-Vedantic vision aspects of the worldviews represented by the great philosophi-
cal poems of ancient, medieval and modern Europe. As vast in scope as any of these works, Savitri took shape over much of the poet’s life in a way comparable to Goethe’s
Faust. A study of the stages of its composition reveals much about the author’s artistic, intellectual and spiritual development and gives insight into the poem’s autobiographical dimension.
Regarded by Sri Aurobindo as «a field of experimentation» rather than something «to be written and finished» (Aurobindo : 272),
Savitri is a poem whose genesis and development are of unusual interest and are inseparable from the evolution of its author’s philosophical vision. Sri Aurobindo’s poet-disciple K.D. Sethna first drew attention to how Savitri «moved from its
beginning to its final shape across nearly half of the poet’s life like a grander Faust» (Sethna :
424). Fusing this-worldly and other-worldly elements as well as Western and Eastern influences in a vision even more wide-ranging than those of Lucretius, Dante or Goethe, Sri Aurobindo’s epic seems to meet the requirements of a philosophical poem for our global age – an epic such as Santayana imagined, with the ambition to «reconstitute the shattered picture of the world» (Santayana : 85).
Eternal Truth and the Mutations of Time: Archival Documents and Claims of Timeless
Sri Aurobindo Ashram (India)
Abstract. Philosophical texts regarded as «inspired» present special difficulties for textual editors and intellectual historians that can be mitigated by the study of archival
documents. The works of the philosopher and yogī Aurobindo Ghose are considered important contributions to twentieth-century Indian literature and philosophy. Some of his followers regard them as inspired and therefore not subject to critical study.
Aurobindo himself accepted the reality of inspiration but also thought that inspired texts, such as the Bhagavad Gītā, contain a temporal as well as an eternal element.
Aurobindo’s papers are preserved in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, which took shape during the 1970s. Editions of Aurobindo’s books published between his death
in 1950 and 1977 were issued without consulting his manuscripts, early editions, etc., and therefore contain transmission errors, subjective emendations, etc. The editors of texts issued after 1977 followed the established methodology of textual criticism and
so eliminated many obvious errors. Some of Aurobindo’s readers refused to accept the new editions, and agitated for the restoration of the earlier texts, going so far as to file
legal cases against the editors and the administrators of his ashram or spiritual community. A nuanced approach to the editing of texts regarded by some as inspired must
take the sentiments of readers into consideration while insisting on scholarly rigour.
Keywords. Aurobindo Ghose, archives, textual editing, biography, inspiration, Indian
philosophy, manuscripts, Bhagavad Gita.
Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) is well known in India as a revolu-
tionary politician, a yogī, and a spiritual leader. In academic circles
in the West, he is best known as the author of books on philosophy,
spirituality, and other topics. To members of his āśram or spiritual
community, he is regarded first and foremost as a divinely inspired
seer if not an incarnation of the Divine. I do not propose to exam-
ine the origin or applications of this belief. My subject is the spe-
cial problems that arise when a philosophical author is regarded by
his or her readers not just as a thinker and writer but as a divine-
ly inspired sage. This attitude puts special demands on archivists
Purusartha and Poetics of Development: Self-Development, Social Transformations and
Ananta Kumar Giri
Purusartha was an important vision and pathway of life in classical India which talked about realization of meaning and excellence in terms of four cardinal values and goals of life-- dharma (right conduct), artha (wealth), kama (desire) and moksha (salvation). It provided paths of human excellence and social frame in classical India. But its implication for human development and social transformations in the present day world has rarely been explored. This is not surprising as much of the vision and practice of development is Euro-American and suffers from an uncritical one-sided philosophical and civilizational binding and what Fred Dallmayr (1998) calls
―Enlightenment Blackbox‖ which cuts off our engagement with human development off from our roots and especially our integral links with Nature and the Divine. In our seminar, we wish to explore mutually transforming implications for dialogue between purusartha and human and social development. We are challenged here to rethink both purusartha and human development. In traditional schemes, purusartha is confined to the individual level and rarely the challenge of purusartha at the level of society has been addressed.
The idea of further evolution of man is not only a present-day ideological
invention, but it was also accepted and expressed by Darwin. Accepting this paradigm implies accepting the possibility of further evolution. Along these lines, Benz accepts the idea that mankind is in the middle of an open evolution, which goes further than expected. He mentions as evidence the fact that human beings are cultural beings, that they produce culture. Man is a not-yet-completed being, a being that can control of his own evolution or even to govern it. The possibilities for a new evolution of man are inscribed into his material being, in his brain, wherein the possibilities of this supposed new evolution lay154.
Other developments that point to this new era of the overman are to be found in the works and practices of Sri Aurobindo, which thought of his activity as opening new dimension of being human by incorporating supernatural elements through an integral yoga, which when applied by the whole world would produce
the needed transformation; in this particular case the integral yoga is supposed to give man a greater openness towards the divine.
Another realm in which the interest for the overman is present is
parapsychology. Parapsychology is also thrown into this mix, a fact that should not wonder because it is an expression of the same tendency that created the modern world: the will to power in its technical manifestations. The core idea behind this is to search and gain control over supposed paranormal powers inherent in man, which should offer a new way of understanding things, and of communication and
understanding between people. This should completely revolutionize society155.
This so-called research has an important point to prove in Ernst Benz’s eyes...
Etnosfera Journal www.etnosfera.ro
Year XI, Issue 2(34) / 2019
Another feature of this society is that the humanity of an individual is defined with the help of the relationships with the things, this relationship making possible
that such an individual exists; nevertheless, the individual still depends on community and society, but the way he feels and defines itself as a social atom, this illusion is possible only based on this relationship with the things that define him161. The pursuit of richness and of power belongs to the core of this individualistic view of man. And the pursuit of the ideal of the overman becomes a task which the state has now to support. The improvement of life and the multiplication of the rights – which are power that express the sovereign will of the individual – have to be seen in the light of this ideal.
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Bourreau, Alain. La religion de l’état, Les belles lettres, Paris 2008.
Gauchet, Marcel. De l’avènement de l’individu à la découverte de la société, in Revue européene des
sciences sociales, T.22, Nr. 68, 1984.
Mairet, Gerard. Le principe de souveraineté. Histories et fondements du pouvoir moderne, Gallimard,
Rohou, Jean. Le XVII-e siècle, une révolution de la condition humaine. Paris. Seuil, 2002.