The relevance of Aurobindonian philosophy to-day

Is it the epoch that chooses its prophet or is it the prophet who chooses the epoch ripe for his gospel? This is one of the imponderables of philosophy and the quest for the right answer continues.

In what way is Sri Aurobindo relevant today? Instead of promising that there is a heaven after death he tells us that man's spiritual evolution is inevitable and consequently he redefines the very concepts of life, death and deliverance. When it is the norm to treat devastation and destruction as Nature's retribution for man's earthly sins he tells us that these are methods of shaking man out of his complacency and pushing him towards self-realisation. His philosophy reveals a vision of the Almighty as a benign creator who shaped the universe out of Ananda or the divine delight. This vision may seem a little out of place in to-day's world which groans under threats of doom and destruction. Even those who are not thoroughly impatient with the Aurobindonian philosophy will demand to know how fast it can save the earth from the next holocaust. Can there be quick-fix methods for problems that have festered for centuries together?

There is a growing realization that our perspectives on life must change so that the earth and its inhabitants do not perish ignominiously. For such people who are consciously struggling to establish a new law of life Sri Aurobindo's philosophy has its unique relevance.

If we trace the biographical outline of the Master covering all the major aspects of his life we see that both in life and in thought he was preoccupied with man's terrestrial evolution and the definite manifestation of a higher force on earth to give it a concrete shape. The core ideas of Sri Aurobindo's magnum opus, The Life Divine, highlights his vision of a highly evolved being who will be very different from what human beings are at present. In other words, man is an evolutionary being who is not at the apex of Nature and he has to further evolve into a divine being embodying the Divine Gnosis. The evolution of the new race (which he terms as the Supramental race) will usher in simultaneously its complete biological transformation- since the very cells of the body will be illumined. The philosopher systematically constructs the pathway of practical discipline of yoga. This charted route over unfamiliar terrain will lead to the transformation of man into a spiritual being. The concept of Reality, the highest Truth pervading all existence, can be further grasped if one turns to Savitri -- in this epic what is abstract philosophy becomes illuminated poetic rhythm. Sri Aurobindo's theory of evolution and involution as a parallel movement guiding the destiny of the earth since the beginning of creation has been illustrated with fine examples.

For Sri Aurobindo no aspect of life is too insignificant for inclusion in the process of yoga and he gave the mantra “All Life Is Yoga”. We can clarify that the main tenets of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga are aspiration, rejection, surrender and definitely patience. First, there must be a strong and overwhelming aspiration for the Divine. One must eliminate the hurdles preventing one from advancing on the path. Since it is nearly impossible to do yoga all alone it is necessary for the individual to surrender himself to Divine Grace and Force. There are many methods for realizing one's goal and many broad steps are defined by Sri Aurobindo. In the beginning one starts treading the path of yoga with one's limitations. As one proceeds the conventions and dogmas get eliminated by the power of one's aspiration. The four broad paths of Yoga according to Sri Aurobindo are the Yoga of works, the Yoga of Integral Knowledge, the Yoga of Divine Love and the Yoga of self-perfection. One can choose the path according to one's temperament. As the individual progresses on the path of Integral yoga he needs an environment that will help him find other like-minded seekers. The larger society and even nations also need to create an atmosphere of peace and co-operation so that the individual does not have to surmount unnecessary hurdles at every corner. Sri Aurobindo expounded this idea of world unity in one of his major works, The Ideal of Human Unity. He explains that a spiritualised religion of humanity alone can bring together man and man, nation and nation. This unifying religion is not a mental idea but one infused with true knowledge. The spiritual basis of society will usher in an era of peace, harmony and unity.

Rita Nath Keshari

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