Thursday May 24, 2018

Aurobindo: The spiritual revolutionary who severed the thread of the global power structure

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By Gaurav Sharma

India has always birthed and mothered great souls, which have transformed the landscape, not just the hard boundaries defining geographical territories, but also the subtle frameworks ‘encaging’ the mind.Amongst the countless architects of Indian, the mystical figure of Aurobindo stands out par excellence.Born in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, on 15 August 1872, Aurobindo Ghose was a multi-faceted personality whose contributions spanned the length and breadth of human activity.

The well-rounded education Scholastic years

In the early phases of his childhood, Aurobindo was exposed to a typical English education encompassing elements of French, Latin and Greek thought processes and ways of working. Aurobindo also acquired a familiarity with Italian and German languages.

Besides secular education, Aurobindo was also subjected to particulars of religion. However, the Christian teachings that were propounded during his education generally bored him to the extent of repulsion.

Under the tutelage of Reverend W.H Drewett, Aurobindo developed a distaste and disgust for religion, viz-a viz the evangelical strictures.

At this juncture, the very thought of religion made his stomach churn so much that he considered himself as an atheist but later affirmed agnosticism.

After completing his academic education, Aurobindo took the Civil Service Exams in England, with an aim to fulfill his father’s aspirations. Coming out with flying colors, Aurobindo scored an impressive ranking of 11 out of 250 competitors.

His lack of interest in the profession, however, meant that he appeared intentionally late for the practical exam, thereby disqualifying himself from the service. Subsequently, he moved to India by securing a place in the Baroda State Service.

Professional struggle culminates into political rebellion

After working for the Survey and Settlement Department and serving the Department of Revenue and the Secretariat in Baroda for some years, Aurobindo undertook a variety of miscellaneous jobs like teaching grammar, writing speeches for the Maharaja, teaching part-time French and managing schools.

Apart from teaching students, Aurobindo taught himself Sanskrit and Bengal. Writing was also one of the multifarious talents that Aurobindo harbored and put into great use. At the nascent stage, Aurobindo contributed articles to the Indu Prakash, a Marathi-English daily of Bombay, but later expanded his writings through self-started journals and papers.

Soon, Aurobindo became deeply interested in the freedom struggle of India, becoming one of the pioneering leaders in India’s fight for independence.

With a burning patriotic desire in his heart, Aurobindo started taking interest in politics and became actively engaged in underground political activities. He was already influenced by the study of revolutionary ideas (revolts in America and Italy), which expounded rebellion to overthrow colonial rule.

Before embracing extremism in toto, Aurobindo participated as a convener in forming the principles of Swadeshi, Swaraj, Boycott and National Education.

A meeting with extremist leaders, such as Lokmanya Tilak, however, made Aurobindo question his views on the methods required to guarantee India’s freedom.

He started organizing various resistance groups in Bengal and also funded the military training of Jatindra Nath Banerjee. Travelling extensively to Bombay, Baroda and Pune, Aurobindo beefed-up the support for the nationalist cause by meeting various other groups and organizing nationalist speeches.

The “visit” of Swami Vivekananda sparks a spiritual evolution

A year later in 1908, the bombing in Alipore led to the incarceration of Aurobindo. While in solitary confinement, Aurobindo witnessed a mystical experience in which he was “visited” by Vivekananda.

“It is a fact that I was hearing constantly the voice of Vivekananda speaking to me for a fortnight in my solitary meditation and felt his presence,” Aurobindo is known to have remarked on his experience in Alipore jail.

After being released from prison, Aurobindo started two new publications ‘Karmayogin’ in English and ‘Dharma’ in Bengali.

‘To my Countrymen,’ an article published in ‘Karmayogin’ specified Aurobindo’s retirement from political life and signaled his ascent into spiritual life.

He soon moved to Pondicherry and immersed himself in the reclusive practice of Yoga. After intense and secluded application of Yoga practice, Aurobindo started a philosophical magazine called ‘Arya.’

The publication, which ceased operation in 1921, was revised and eventually transformed into book form. This included a rich corpus of philosophical and experiential knowledge in the form of The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on The Gita, The Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The Upanishads, The Renaissance in India, War and Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Future Poetry.

A humanistic view of Spirituality

Aurobindo vision of spirituality was grounded in the concept of unity of humanity. He challenged the theory of evolution by highlighting its limited scope of reason and arguing that life was already present in matter.

In his book, The Ideal of Human Unity, Aurobindo explained how humanity could be united.

According to Aurobindo, national egoism in the name of patriotism was the major reason for division of people and propelling of wars.

Commercially driven nations were most likely to conflict again over control of markets and wealth. He pointed out that unrestricted commercialization would inevitably lead to “stupendous military organizations” and unbridled hunger for power.

The spiritual stalwart unabashedly summed up modern war as “the bastard offspring of wealth-hunger and commercialism with political ambition as its putative father.”

The only way the world could survive was by realizing the “religion of humanity.”  Violence could be stymied when people transcended the commercial interests by using a spiritual motive to subordinate their political and economic objectives.

The sacredness of life, irrespective of the distinctions of caste, color, creed, religion, social advancement, political affiliations and national boundaries would be the prime uniting factor for humanity.

“Supra-natural” oneness was to be the plank on which a peaceful human society was to be built. The spiritual effects would not only transform the physical, psychic, intellectual and the ethical aspects of an individual, but would lead to a “super-conscious” society and culture.

The religio-spiritual fervor of Aurobindo cascaded beyond the narrow limiting boundaries invented by man, embracing the whole humanity into its widespread, loving arms.

Perhaps, Aurobindo holds the anodyne for uniting the apparently diverse populace that characterizes democratic nations in the globalized world today.

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Parle G: A Brief History Of India’s Favourite Biscuit

Even today, Parle company and Parle g are a favourite of Indians and the parle g girl, the cutest brand ambassador

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Parle g is India's favourite biscuit and has been in existence since before independence. Wikimedia Commons
Parle g is India's favourite biscuit and has been in existence since before independence. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma 

  • Parle g is one of the most popular biscuits of India
  • It was made to make biscuits available to common people of India
  • Parle g is still one of India’s number 1 biscuit brand

Every Indian has tasted the Parle g biscuits, even if it is just once. And they have all loved its taste. No matter how you eat it, plain, with tea, coffee, milk or even water, Parle g biscuits, in which g stands for genius, are loved by all.

Parle g is India's largest selling biscuit. Facebook
Parle g is India’s largest selling biscuit. Facebook

They can be called the staple biscuits of India, especially with tea. You will find them in almost all the households in India. They are nutritious and tasty. And they are famous for the Parle g girl whose face has been associated with these biscuits for as long as one can remember.

But do you know how these favourite biscuits of India came into being?

Parle g – The beginning of an endless era

In 1929, Mohanlal Dayal Chauhan, who was a trader of silk, based in Mumbai, bought an old factory to manufacture confectionery, such as boiled sweets.

He was highly inspired by the Swadeshi movement, which promoted the production and use of Indian goods. Chauhan sailed to Germany to learn the art of ‘confectionery-making’. He returned in 1929, with required skills and high-tech machinery.

Chauhan’s small factory was situated between the villages, Irla and Parla, and employed just 12 men with the Chauhan family themselves serving multiple roles like engineers, managers, and confectionery makers. The work at the factory used to be so hectic, that it is believed that founders forgot to name it. And with it time, it came to be known as Parle.

Parle g is staple to Indians and their tea. Facebook
Parle g is the staple to Indians and their tea. Facebook

Parle’s first product was an orange candy then they started making other confectioneries and toffees. It was only 10 years later that the biscuit making operation began in 1939.

Back then, biscuits were only for elite classes, as they were mostly imported and expensive. To counter this trend, Parle launched ‘Parle Gluco’ which was an affordable biscuit meant for the consumption of common people. Since it was made in India, it was cheap and accessible. Made in India, meant for Indian palates and accessible. It became quickly became very popular among Indians. It also became the British-Indian army’s go-to biscuits during the World War II.

Also Read: Adopting these Ancient Food Practices Will Help You to Live a Healthy Life  

However, due to severe shortage of wheat in 1947, due to partition, production of Parle Gluco biscuits had to stop for a while. At that time, Parle requested people to consume the biscuits made of barley, for they were just as healthy.

How Parle Gluco came to be known as Parle g 

In 1960, Parle Company came face to face with the other competitors in the market. Many other companies began launching their own glucose biscuits. like, Britannia launched its first glucose biscuit named Glucose D.

The similar names confused many people and the sales got divided. The Parle company decided to change its packaging to differentiate itself from the others. The new packaging is what we see today. A white and yellow striped plastic packet with the red Parle logo, and the photo of the famous Parle girl on it.

Parle g is the only biscuit which can be found anywhere in India. Wikimedia Commons
Parle g is the only biscuit which can be found anywhere in India. Wikimedia Commons

Although the new packaging appealed to children and their mothers, it still didn’t appeal to the mass. So, Parle decided to change the name of their biscuits to Parle g.

And unlike, what advertisements may make us believe, the ‘g’ in Parle g stands for gluco or glucose and not genius. Shocking, right?

Parle g also changed their packaging to low-cost printed plastic, to avoid duplication by other companies. It that time, Parle released the tagline “Often imitated, never equalled” which has to be the cheekiest tagline ever.

Throughout the years, Parle g has changed many taglines but essence of health has been the same. Facebook
Throughout the years, Parle g has changed many taglines but the essence of health has been the same. Facebook

Parle g Now 

Parle g has run brilliant advertising campaigns throughout the years. Their taglines have changed, yet their essence remains the same. Parle with time has also ventured into philanthropist efforts, helping various children across the nation achieve their dreams.

Also Read: Guide to Hindu God’s Favourite Food Items: Find Out!

Even today, Parle company and Parle g are a favourite of Indians and the parle g girl, the cutest brand ambassador. Parle g is the only brand of biscuit that is available even to the places where no other biscuit is available. Maybe, the effort by Parle company is what makes this biscuit so special and popular.