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Sri Aurobindo’s message for Independent India

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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.”

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“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

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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)

 

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Unprecedented Moment in History: Niagara Falls in Canada Lit Up in Tricolor on Independence Day

The iconic Niagara Falls, which marks the international border between the United States and Canada lit up in tricolour

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Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls lit up in tricolor. Twitter

New Delhi, Aug 18, 2017: Canada’s fascinating waterfalls, the Niagara falls on August 15 brightened in saffron, white and green to celebrate the 71st Independence Day of India.

The world’s most astonishing waterfalls appeared even more spectacular as the Indian tri colours irradiated.

Vikas Swarup, the former spokesperson of the MEA and currently the High Commissioner of India to Canada shared the bewitching moment through his twitter handle. Swarup on Wednesday took to Twitter and shared a post along with a picture.

 

Dinesh Bhatia, Consulate General of India in Toronto also shared the video of the striking view of Niagara falls via his twitter account.

 

 

Bhatia also shared another twitter post with several photos of the beautiful sight in which he wrote:

 

This is the unprecedented moment in the history that the iconic Niagara Falls, which marks the international border between the United States and Canada illuminated in tricolour.

An exciting point about this imposing moment that has now been observed in history is that the man behind colouring the wonder beauty is an Indian from Kerala.

According to TOI, Sibu Nair who works as an administrator at the University of Buffalo, New York is the impelling force behind this initiative. On August 11, he asserted, “Niagara waterfalls will be illuminated in the colours of the Indian national flag on August 15 for 15 minutes, from 10-10.15 pm, New York time. We are very much excited about it.”


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These 10 Events after Independence changed India Forever

These ten events that happened in the past changed the country forever: 

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Independence Day
India is Celebrating its 71st Independence Day. Wikimedia
  • India celebrates the Independence day on 15th August
  • Since the partition and Independence of 1947, the country has come a long way on its own
  • We look at ten events that changed India forever

August 15, 2017: Today India celebrates its 71st Independence Day. In 1947, India became a sovereign nation independent of foreign rule, which came at the cost of a partition.

However, in these 71 years, India has come a long way to become a reputable nation in the international standings.

These ten events that happened in the past changed the country forever:

1. The Indo-Sino war of 1962: 

The 1962 war with China resulted in a humiliating defeat for India. While India was trying to stand on its own feet, independent from the foreigners, the savage offense from China was a blow to India’s confidence. The communist China attacked India on 20th October 1962 in Ladakh. Some say the war emerged out of nowhere. India did not see it coming, and was not prepared for it. The war, however, created animosity between two neighbors who are today the regional powers in the continent.

2. The Indo-Pak war of 1971: 

India and Pakistan have been at war since the partition. The 1971 war between the two countries lasted just 13 days, but a major event of history was written. Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan and became an independent nation. With this creation, the geopolitics of the Indian subcontinent changed forever. A buffer zone in the form of Bangladesh had emerged. Further, the dispute of Teesta river was a continual issue until recently.

ALSO READ: PM Narendra Modi Condemns Religious Violence on 71st Indian Independence Day, Warns “Will Not Accept Violence In The Name Of Faith”

3. The National Emergency of 1975: 

Indira Gandhi government declared the National Emergency in 1975. The fundamental rights of the people and the constitution became worthless. Liberty was erased from the lives of the citizens. All in all, it was an attack on the very democracy of India. Many people were put behind bars and opposition was totally shut off.

4. Anti-Sikh Riots in 1984: 

The Khalistani militants who were demanding a separate state were terminated by the government of India as part of the Operation Bluestar. Indira Gandhi had ordered an attack on a militant group hiding in Golden Temple, Amritsar which is considered the Holiest place for Sikhs. What followed was the assassination of Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards in 1984. The agitated public thus initiated a revenge against innocent Sikhs. In Delhi alone, 2,733 Sikhs were killed. This incident still influences the political atmosphere of Punjab.

5. The VP Singh Mandal Commission: 

After independence, the scheduled castes and tribes were recognized as in dire need of social welfare and opportunity to equality. But the Other Backward Classes (OBC) were not involved. It was in 1990 when PM VP Singh declared that the Mandal Commission report, submitted in 1980, was accepted. It changed the phase of many spheres of citizen lives. Education universities were flooded by young people who sought retributive justice. Many enjoyed prosperity and better standards of living.

6. Liberalization in India: 

The Liberalization policy of 1991 was presented by Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. It proved to be the most historic policy in the country’s legacy. Economic reforms were introduced in the country. India was further integrated with global markets and finance. This led to India enjoying a massive rate of progress.

7. 1992 Demolition of Babri Masjid: 

Hindutva ideology possessed people destroyed the Babri Masjid upon learning that four hundred years ago a Muslim ruler had destroyed the Ram Temple where the Lord was born. Hindus demanded a Ram temple be built. This case became a famous dispute between two religions that once coexisted peacefully in one nation. It also influences the politics of the country today.

8. Gujarat Riots 2002: 

A train was set ablaze on fire in a conspiracy. The train was returning from Ayodhya to Gujarat and was carrying Hindus. In retaliation, hundreds of Muslims were killed. The Chief Minister of the state at that time was Narendra Modi, who is the current Prime Minister of India. He came under a lot of fire for the inability to control the situation.

9. Mumbai Terror 2008: 

Popularly referred to as the 26/11, this was the worst attack on the Indian soil. It revealed the loopholes in security arrangements of India and thus improved army and weaponry.

10. 2014 PM Elections:

The 2014 elections shocked Congress and their supporters. For the first time in the country, a party other than Congress received a majority in the Lok Sabha. The whole status quo of the country trembled. The party which is communal in nature was now at power.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


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