Monday, March 26, 2007

Sri Aurobindo: The Return of Rishi

In our thoughts, we hopelessly confine to think in terms of the exterior world. Often we tend to believe just what we see and not what is real, for our senses have by nature its own limitations. Therefore, we are usually left unaware of the forces and influences, which are really at work at subtler levels. The education we get produces only mechanical beings. The focus has now shifted from the development of man to the developments of means; hence, man of today is reduced to be an educated illiterate.
In such uninspiring atmosphere, Sri Aurobindo looks as an outstanding star in the firmament of Indian Philosophy and literature. Any account of his luminous life, reveals but a fraction of divinity and glory he lived, realised, and taught. Truly to quote him: “Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for a man to see”; and to say the least this little attempt by its virtue stands insignificant to sketch his majestic life and works. However, this is merely a tribute to the Divine Master on his birth anniversary on 15th August.
Sri Aurobindo’s birthday makes the birthday of free India even more special occasion. In addition, there is more than obvious significance of the coincidence and the relation between the two. He had foreseen the Indian Independence almost three decades ago. In N. A. Palkhivala’s words Sri Aurobindo “after stating that the birthday of free India and his own was not a fortuitous accident, but represented the sanction of the Divine force that guided his steps in all his life-work, he dealt with the evolution of mankind and India’s role in the future”. As the profounder of Integral Yoga, the prophet of Life Divine, fighter for National liberation, critic of life and literature Sri Aurobindo ranks among the supreme masters of not only our age but of all ages.
Sri Aurobindo grew up in entire ignorance of India, its culture, people and religion, for he was sent to England early for education and remained there till twenty years of age. Before he was twenty years of age, had mastered Greek and Latin, English and French and had acquired some familiarity with German & Italian.” It is not a surprise that he learned his mother tongue only after his return from England.
Though he was cut off from his Homeland and was brought up under strict instructions by his father that he and his two brothers should not be allowed to make the acquaintance of any Indian or undergo any Indian Influence. But, the born mutineer was destined to play an indomitable role in every sphere of his country; and the first role he decided for himself at an early age when he was in England-was to liberate his own nation. Young Aurobindo then started taking interest in Indian Politics of which he was utterly ignorant, and by the time he joined the secret society-“Lotus and Dagger”-while in England. It was a first society of its kind by Indian students in England at that time when Indian Politics was lackluster and spineless.
It was Sri Aurobindo who firstly intended to propel the entire nation to the ideal of Independence, which was at that time regarded as impractical and unrealistic, impossible and illusory by the then distinguished peoples in politics and outside. He focused his revolutionary ideas and activities mainly on three objects. First, start an action for armed insurrection with the help of a secret revolutionary-organization. Second, arouse in public fervor to the ideal of Independence of the country. Lastly, carry out united opposition and detest towards the foreign rule through continuous non-cooperation and non- violent resistance.
Sri Aurobindo believed Peace is a part of the highest ideal, but it must be spiritual and if attempted on any other basis even on the gospel of Ahimsa for that matter, it will not yield the intended results and may leave things worse than before. Non-violent resistance adopted by him for a time being as a policy and not as a part of moral ideal of Ahimsa. To carry out his political vision he started a paper, Yugantar, in which he wrote himself and published series of articles preaching open revolt against the British rule.

Sri Aurobindo represents “the return of Rishi.” He is the prophet of peace and evangelist of Nationalism; one who believed that his Yogic pursuit could manifest itself in enhancing his task of liberating his motherland from the clutches of cruel foreign rule. A master and inspirer of all works and actions, he always preferred to remain on back of the scene and not let all the credit go to him alone.

In 1906, he was appointed for the publication called Bande Mataram. He was imprisoned in 1908 for one year under the suspicion of conspiracy in the famous Alipore Bomb case. It was in jail where Lord Krishna blessed him with His Vision, the moment when he attained the fulfillment of his Sadhana with the blessing of Sri Krishna Himself. He also heard the voice of Swami Vivekananda giving him direction on his Yoga practice.

When he released from prison, thereafter a new and far higher resolve and greater motivation worked through him. The ideal of Independence now mingled in the word Evolution: a path of spiritual emancipation of the humankind. The most valuable contribution of Sri Aurobindo to us is his enormous body of writings dealing with the escapade of consciousness and man’s unwavering search for Supramental. What he believed the evolution of man to a higher consciousness would unravel the perplexities that have vexed the society since it came into existence; and would ultimately result in the individual perfection, and hence in perfection of the society.
After few more years of fiery political activity, he decided to leave the active politics, not because he was not interested in it anymore but because he assumed something superior and subtle role for himself. To quote him “I didn’t leave the politics because I felt I could do nothing more there; such an idea was very far from me. I have cut connection entirely with politics, but before I did so I knew from within that the work I had began there, was destined to be carried forward, on lines I had foreseen, by others and that the ultimate triumph of the movement I had initiated was sure without my personal action or presence.” Moreover, what next for him he said “I came away because I did not want anything to interfere in my yoga and because I got a very distinct adesa (divine order) in the matter. We got freedom though not exactly in the way, he wished but on the lines, he had foreseen.

People look at him for various purposes and inspirations but what we find is mere a tip of an ice-burg; for he himself once said “It would be only myself who could speak of things in my past giving them true form and significance.” Truly, he was one of the greatest men that ever lived.

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