History & Culture

A journey to a new world

Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo.

April 4, 2010 marked the centenary of Sri Aurobindo's journey to Pondicherry from British India. Hyderabad will pay homage to the sage on April 10, at Ravindra Bharati.

When Aurobindo Ghose left the shores of British India following a divine Adesh on board the SS Dupleix for Pondicherry from the French enclave of Chandernagore, he set in motion momentous changes that were far reaching in his personal life and in the evolution of his consciousness. For, Aurobindo Ghose, the revolutionary and the poet would have been remembered, but without the Pondicherry experience, the world would not have known Sri Aurobindo, the philosopher-mystic who enunciated the path of Integral Yoga, and the future evolution of Man.

Why is Sri Aurobindo not in the forefront of the nation's attention today? Some contend that it is in the manner in which we frame the national debate in terms of the ‘secular' and the ‘communal' that the third category, the ‘spiritual' must take a back seat: Sri Aurobindo, after all was a philosopher-mystic.

Is it because, we as a nation, in our collective self image and self expression seem to have opted for ideals and action that run diametrically opposite to the vision of Sri Aurobindo?

Sri Aurobindo declared that the nation is not the sum total of the parts. But our leaders in all spheres seem to maintain that it is the parts, and only the parts, that make up the nation. Indeed, every part that claims to exist by itself in an insular and atomistic manner, can browbeat, terrorise or blackmail other parts, and the whole, into submission.

Aurobindo left active politics in 1910, and retired to Pondicherry to the care of his ‘Tapasya' for 40 years. But Sri Aurobindo never gave up his concern for the fate of our nation, indeed the entire humanity. He taught us the value of egoless action and the need to decolonise our minds.

Asked in 1922, if India would be free, Sri Aurobindo had famously replied that India's freedom was ‘as sure as the rising of tomorrow's sun. The question was not whether India was going to be free or not but Sri Aurobindo makes it clear in the Foundations of Indian Culture that he is not interested in the rise of India so that she could play power politics and a hegemonic role in the international arena. She must rise in order to be a world leader in terms of progressive and futuristic ideals. Spirituality for Sri Aurobindo meant precisely that.

At Pondicherry Sri Aurobindo was to meet Mirra Alfassa, later known as the Mother. Together, they would fashion out the cartography of a new world and a radically new spiritual and communitarian order, manifest in communities such as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville.

That remains the lasting legacy of April 4, 1910, a Journey to a new world!

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 12:04:51 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/A-journey-to-a-new-world/article16363893.ece