Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sri Aurobindo on the Kashmir Problem

[Sri Aurobindo wrote the following note to Amal Kiran in September 1949, but how relevant it is to the present situation in Kashmir in 2017! I draw the attention of the reader to four points which I frame in my own words for the sake of brevity: (1) Not all Muslims are fanatics, so look for their support in a secular state. (2) Do not trust Pakistan. (3) Do not suggest a coalition “between the loyalists and the rebels in Kashmir”, for the rebels will only subvert the administration. (4) Do not give up Kashmir because of military weakness, for it will only encourage Pakistan to establish Muslim rule in North India.]

Sunday, 2 April 2017

“Yes, bring on Bharatiyata" by Pratap Bhanu Mehta on the Indian Express website on March 29, 2017

Quote from the above article followed by my comment:

“Indigenisation would require confronting the self as much as confronting the other. The insidious claim in the call to indigenisation is this: What counts as Indian? Who gets to set these terms? What about western ideas? What about Islam? Will we recognise, as Aurobindo did, “However much we may deplore some of the characteristics of that intervening period which were dominated by the western standpoint or move away from that standpoint back to our own characteristic way of seeing existence, we cannot get rid of a certain element of inevitable change it has produced upon us, any more than a man can go back in life to what he was some years ago?” Will we recognise as Aurobindo did, that Islam nourished India and was nourished by it? Or will the choice of indigenous be determined by Golwalkar who said non-Hindu peoples must “stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation”? A genuine indigenisation would require embracing all of India; not parts of it. So, bring on the indigenisation that embraces all, the Western and the Islamic, the Aghoris and the Tantriks, the Marxists and the Liberals, as Indian.”

The quote from Sri Aurobindo is from his book The Renaissance of India (CWSA, Vol. 20, p 51). The context of it is whether India can or should go back to its culture as it was before the Mahomedan and British conquest. Sri Aurobindo says that we cannot go back to our great past, but we “can go forward to a large repossession of ourselves in which we shall make a better, more living, more real, more self-possessed use of the intervening experience”. This can hardly mean that Islam has “nourished India”! It could as well mean that the problems of building a nation have multiplied instead of diminishing with the coming of Islam into India. If Islam had really “nourished India”, then there would have been no problems at all in unifying the Indian nation.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Wrong Notion that Sri Aurobindo Rejected Hinduism – Raman Reddy

(With specific reference to The Clasp of Civilisations (2015) by Richard Hartz, published by Nalanda International, and Nationalism, Religion, and Beyond (2005), a compilation of Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Politics, Society and Culture, edited by Peter Heehs.)  

I was rather disappointed after reading The Clasp of Civilisations by Richard Hartz because I expected from him a better understanding of Hinduism than most Western scholars.[1] The book starts off well with a sense of universality in spiritual matters which justifies the title, but gets caught halfway through with the usual antipathy towards Hinduism that is so common among secular scholars of India. The chapter on Vivekananda’s famous address in the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in September 1893 is indeed well-written and the circumstances of the historic event depicted in a most interesting manner with an undercurrent of humour. But the chapter on Hinduism titled “Untold Potentialities: Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Aurobindo and the Idea of India”, in which Nehru is elevated into a spiritual figure and Sri Aurobindo converted into a secular icon, shows the fundamental flaws of Richard’s scholarship. One immediately gets the impression of encountering one more Hinduphobic armchair scholar, who meticulously builds his arguments on the works of other Hinduphobic scholars who also have never empathised with Indian culture. Ironically, Richard Hartz has studied the Vedas and is an expert in Sanskrit, but this only shows that mere scholarship does not open the gates of spiritual comprehension. After all, Peter Heehs, his colleague, did the same, wasting forty years of research on Sri Aurobindo and producing such a hostile biography that the disciples of Sri Aurobindo had to go to the Court to take him to task. But let us come back to Richard Hartz who could have easily come to his own conclusions instead of following the path of Peter Heehs with regard to Hinduism, or what is in fact the path of leftist secular scholars of India and abroad which Peter Heehs himself follows faithfully for the sake of his academic career. After all, for him academic success is more important than stating the fundamental truth of Hinduism!