Thursday April 26, 2018
Home Opinion Sri Aurobindo...

Sri Aurobindo’s message for Independent India


By Nithin Sridhar

“India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken her last creative word; She lives and has still something to do for herself and the human people. And that which must seek now to awake is not an Anglicized oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher toward the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma.”

-Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo

Today is not only the day on which India got its independence 68 years ago, but also the day on which Sri Aurobindo, the revolutionary yogi, was born 143-years ago in 1872.

Sri Aurobindo was born as Aurobinda Ackroyd Ghose in Calcutta. His parents were Krishna Dhun Ghose and Swarnalotta Dev. He had two elder brothers, one younger brother and one younger sister. Sri Aurobindo and his elder brothers moved to England in 1879 for education.

Sri Aurobindo returned to India in 1893 and joined the Baroda State service. In Baroda, he started to take interest in the political affairs of the country. He also was in contact with Tilak and Sister Nivedita. He established the revolutionary youth organization Anushilan Samiti in 1902.

In 1908, when Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki tried to bomb and kill Magistrate Kingsford, Sri Aurobindo was also arrested on the charges of complicity in carrying out the attack. Though Sri Aurobindo was released in May, 1909, he had undergone deep spiritual transformation while he was inside the Alipore jail.

In 1910, Sri Aurobindo withdrew completely from political activities and shifted to Pondicherry, which was then a French colony, to work on yoga and spiritual resurgence of not only India but of entire humanity.

In 1947, when India became Independent, at the request of All India Radio, Sri Aurobindo wrote a message that was broadcasted on 14-August-1947.

The message of Sri Aurobindo was significant, not only because he was a revolutionary and a freedom fighter, but also because he was one of the driving forces behind the spiritual resurgence of India. In his message, he shared his dreams for India and the world. Those are not just “dreams”. In fact, they can be considered as goals, as targets that India must strive to achieve. His dreams are actually his advise about how India and the whole world can grow and attain greater harmony and progress.

Sri Aurobindo begins his message with the following words: “August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity.”

Hence, in the very beginning itself, Sri Aurobindo sets for free-India, a greater purpose in the world. He said that the life and actions of Indians must be directed towards creating new-age for the entire humanity in all spheres of life- political, social, cultural and spiritual. That is, if there is one nation that can show the world, path out of current social, political, and cultural issues, it is India. India by its hard efforts can be a solution for entire range of global issues from poverty to terrorism, from climate change to corruption. The only key is, Indians must dedicate their life and work towards this grand and noble goal.

Sri Aurobindo added that he does not consider it as a coincidence that India’s Independence Day has fallen on his birthday, and instead, he takes it as a divine seal upon all his life activities. He then continues: “Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position.”

So, Sri Aurobindo, saw a clear pathway for India to travel into future. And based on this vision, he charted few goals, that he called “dreams” for the progress and development of India.

Sri Aurobindo’s First Dream: He states that the dream of the revolutionary movement was to see a free and united India. Even though India has achieved freedom, it has been broken into parts. United India is still left to be achieved. He further stresses that it is necessary for the development and growth of all people in Indian sub-continent that the partition is undone and India united.

He said: “It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled for ever or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go.”

But, Sri Aurobindo stressed that this unmaking of partition must happen naturally, must happen spontaneously through the recognition of not only the necessity of peace and concord, but also of common action. He has urged the entire population of the Indian subcontinent to unite and abandon the partition that happened on communal lines so as to attain greater welfare through common action.

He adds: “But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India’s future.” Therefore, for the greatness of India, to return to our ancient glory, it is necessary to unite the broken India, to heal the fissures that broke it and establish a united wholesome India again. This undivided India, is the first “dream” that Sri Aurobindo has set for Indians.

Sri Aurobindo’s Second Dream: His second dream was for the “resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and her return to her great role in the progress of human civilization.” Though, liberation from British rule has already occurred, the resurgence is still incomplete. Various nations of South Asia are still struggling with various social, political and cultural issues.

Speaking about his vision for India’s role in this resurgence of Asia, Sri Aurobindo adds: “There India has her part to play and has begun to play it with an energy and ability which already indicate the measure of her possibilities and the place she can take in the council of the nations.” Therefore, Sri Aurobindo, attached great importance to the role of India in ensuring peace and progress of entire Asia. It is now for India to completely assert its role, take on this responsibility and help establish peace and prosperity in entire South Asia. Therefore, the resurgence of Asia and Indians taking on this key responsibility is the second “dream” that Sri Aurobindo set for Indians.

Sri Aurobindo’s Third Dream: He boldly declares that his third dream was “a world-union forming the outer basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind.” He further elaborates on the necessity of such a unity thus: “For unification is a necessity of Nature, an inevitable movement. Its necessity for the nations is also clear, for without it the freedom of the small nations may be at any moment in peril and the life even of the large and powerful nations insecure. The unification is therefore to the interests of all, and only human imbecility and stupid selfishness can prevent it; but these cannot stand for ever against the necessity of Nature and the Divine Will.”

But, this unification does not mean ceasing of individual heritage and identity. Instead, this unification should be such that, it is not “incompatible with self-preservation and the integrality” of the nations. This, he says, is only possible when international forms and institutions are developed, such that “dual or multilateral citizenship, willed interchange or voluntary fusion of cultures” become possible.”

Many of these can be already seen in present India. The United Nation’s already unites various nations of the world under single banner. The measures like dual citizenships are already present in certain countries. But, the world still has a long way to go in achieving true unification of spirit of whole humanity.

Emphasizing the role of India in this endeavor, he says: “Here too India has begun to play a prominent part and, if she can develop that larger statesmanship which is not limited by the present facts and immediate possibilities but looks into the future and brings it nearer, her presence may make all the difference between a slow and timid and a bold and swift development. A catastrophe may intervene and interrupt or destroy what is being done, but even then the final result is sure.

Therefore, Sri Aurobindo had firm conviction in the role of India as a world-guide and believed that India can play a central role in carrying forward the spirit of global oneness. Therefore, his third dream for India, is to facilitate the spirit of oneness to take hold of entire humanity.

Sri Aurobindo’s Fourth Dream: Speaking again about the India’s role as a world-guide, especially in cultural and spiritual realm, Sri Aurobindo says: “the spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India’s spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice.”

Therefore, his fourth dream for Indians, is to carry forward this spiritual legacy and show the path to the whole world, so that they can all attain spiritual welfare.

Sri Aurobindo’s Last Dream:  Sri Aurobindo’s final “dream” was to raise mankind to a higher level of consciousness, a step closer to the goal of individual perfection and perfect society. He said: “The final dream was a step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.”

Therefore, he considered this evolution of human consciousness into higher realm as the next stage in evolution of humans. He further stated that, it was his personal hope, an ideal, achieving which would be extremely difficult. But, expressing hope, he said: “but difficulties were made to be overcome and if the Supreme Will is there, they will be overcome.”

Attaching a central role for India in this endeavor, he said: “Here too, if this evolution is to take place, since it must proceed through a growth of the spirit and the inner consciousness, the initiative can come from India and, although the scope must be universal, the central movement may be hers.”

Therefore, the final and most important of Aurobindo’s “dreams” was for India to reclaim its position as Jagadguru (world-teacher) and lead the humanity through spiritual evolution into a higher stage of consciousness.

Expressing that the fulfillment of his dreams and hopes for India’s future lies with the people of India, he ended his Independence Day message saying: “Such is the content which I put into this date of India’s liberation; whether or how far this hope will be justified depends upon the new and free India.

Now, after 68 years of achieving India’s independence, it is time for the whole nation to ponder over these “dreams” outlined by our great forefather, who not only contributed towards the fight against the British but also was instrumental in the spiritual resurgence of India. We, as a nation, should evaluate ourselves and see how much have we fulfilled the “dreams” of our freedom fighters and nation-makers, and how have we fared in our journey as a “Free India.”

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

“Ants Among Elephants” by Indian-Origin Author Sujatha Gidla is Creating Waves in the US

Interview with Sujatha Gidla, who recently wrote a memoir capturing the life of Dalit community in India

Dalit Women protesting against exploitation
Dalit Women protesting against exploitation. Wikimedia
  • Many instances of discrimination and humiliation that she and her family were customarily subjected to
  • This Independence was not real independence, it was only transfer of power
  • Caste-based discrimination is uniquely cruel

New York, USA, August 27, 2017:  The nation has just celebrated Independence Day with great pomp and fervor but does this special occasion evoke similar sentiments among the Dalits living in the country? No, contends an Indian-origin author Sujatha Gidla, who was born an “untouchable” and is now creating waves in US literary circles with a provocative memoir capturing the life of her community in India.

Until recently, Sujatha Gidla was just another New Yorker, working as a conductor on the City Subway. But her recent memoir, “Ants among Elephants: : An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India”, which not only details her memories of growing up as a Dalit woman in India but also lists the many instances of “discrimination and humiliation” that she and her family were customarily subjected to, has thrust her into the limelight.

On how she responds to special occasions like Independence Day, the author said that, as children, they would admire iconic figures like Gandhi and Nehru, and celebrate the day but things changed gradually as they become more aware.

ALSO READ: Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India: A report by US Commission on International Religious Freedom

“When I joined the RSU (Radical Students Union) we were told that (this) Independence was not real independence, that it was only transfer of power. And now we don’t feel anything because we are not made to feel that we are Indians like other Indians.

“It is the same thing in the universities where I studied. I don’t have that pride of my alma mater because we were not treated as equals. None of us have that pride, not even my mother,” Gidla told IANS in an email interview from New York.

The author further quipped that, by and large, “this is not independence” for members of her community.

“There have been many types of discrimination in various parts of the world. As far as I know, caste discrimination is uniquely cruel. There is racism in America, but I will never compare it with caste and rather say that caste is much worse.

“I will also say this: Blacks here are murdered, they have been lynched. But I have never read about another place where untouchables are fed excreta, made to drink urine and paraded naked. Even under slavery, the slave owners took care to feed their slaves in order to keep them fit to work. Untouchables in India never even had that,” Gidla said.

Sujatha Gidla reiterated that untouchability is neither a religious nor a cultural problem. It is rather a social problem and that there has to be “some sort of fundamental change”; otherwise the Dalits will “continue to suffer”.

Elaborating on the “suffering” that she repeatedly mentions in the book, Gidla said most Dalits in India, particularly those trying to fight against the caste system, live under constant duress due to verbal attacks and the threat of physical violence.

“Our neighbors in India have been actively trying to kick my mom out of her apartment. Her (upper) caste colleagues hate the fact that her daughter wrote a successful book.”

“That is the irony; we cannot even celebrate the publication of the book because we are afraid that it will make people around us unhappy. Even fellow untouchables are not posting it on social media for fear of being exposed to their colleagues and (upper) caste friends as untouchables,” she elaborated.

Also Read: Dr. Kallol Guha: Anglophonic Education will not uplift Dalits

Gidla’s grandparents converted to Christianity at the onset of the 20th century and were educated at Canadian missionary schools. She too, with the help of Canadian missionaries, studied physics at the Regional Engineering College in Warangal, in what is Telangana today. She was also a researcher in applied physics at IIT-Madras.

Gidla initially worked as a developer in software design, then moved to banking but lost her job in 2009 during the economic crisis. Finally, she took up the job of a conductor at the New York Subway.

This book, Gidla said, initially began as an investigation into the caste system but finally took the shape of a memoir as her family members also enriched its pages with their personal experiences and reflections.

So what would bring “freedom” in the true sense to Gidla and her family, as also to over 300 million Dalits in India?

“True freedom is equal access to everything in society -education, jobs, etc. When that is achieved, the prejudices will begin to disappear, but only gradually, not instantaneously. Without having equal access to economic betterment all these words about caste being an evil practice or we should treat untouchables with respect are meaningless,” she maintained.

The book has been published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan publishers, and is yet to hit the Indian market. (IANS)