Sri  Aurobindo’s Message to Andhra University 
You have asked me for a message and anything I write, since it
is to the Andhra University that I am addressing my message, if
it can be called by that name, should be pertinent to your University,
its function, its character and the work it has to do. But
it is difficult for me at this juncture when momentous decisions
are being taken which are likely to determine not only the form
and pattern of this country’s Government and administration
but the pattern of its destiny, the build and make-up of the
Messages on Indian and World Events 499
nation’s character, its position in the world with regard to other
nations, its choice of what itself shall be, not to turn my eyes in
that direction. There is one problem facing the country which
concerns us nearly and to this I shall now turn and deal with it,
however inadequately,—the demand for the reconstruction of
the artificial British-made Presidencies and Provinces into natural
divisions forming a new system, new and yet founded on the
principle of diversity in unity attempted by ancient India. India,
shut into a separate existence by the Himalayas and the ocean,
has always been the home of a peculiar people with characteristics
of its own recognisably distinct from all others, with its own
distinct civilisation, way of life, way of the spirit, a separate
culture, arts, building of society. It has absorbed all that has
entered into it, put upon all the Indian stamp, welded the most
diverse elements into its fundamental unity. But it has also been
throughout a congeries of diverse peoples, lands, kingdoms and,
in earlier times, republics also, diverse races, sub-nations with
a marked character of their own, developing different brands
or forms of civilisation and culture, many schools of art and
architecture which yet succeeded in fitting into the general Indian
type of civilisation and culture. India’s history throughout
has been marked by a tendency, a constant effort to unite all
this diversity of elements into a single political whole under a
central imperial rule so that India might be politically as well as
culturally one. Even after a rift had been created by the irruption
of the Mohammedan peoples with their very different religion
and social structure, there continued a constant effort of political
unification and there was a tendency towards a mingling of cultures
and their mutual influence on each other; even some heroic
attempts were made to discover or create a common religion
built out of these two apparently irreconcilable faiths and here
too there were mutual influences. But throughout India’s history
the political unity was never entirely attained and for this there
were several causes,—first, vastness of space and insufficiency
of communications preventing the drawing close of all these different
peoples; secondly, themethod used which was themilitary
domination by one people or one imperial dynasty over the rest
500 On Indian and World Events
of the country which led to a succession of empires, none of
them permanent; lastly, the absence of any will to crush out of
existence all these different kingdoms and fuse together these
different peoples and force them into a single substance and a
single shape. Then came the British Empire in India which recast
the whole country into artificial provinces made for its own
convenience, disregarding the principle of division into regional
peoples but not abolishing that division. For there had grown
up out of the original elements a natural system of subnations
with different languages, literatures and other traditions of their
own, the four Dravidian peoples, Bengal,Maharashtra, Gujarat,
Punjab, Sind, Assam, Orissa, Nepal, the Hindi-speaking peoples
of the North, Rajputana and Behar. British rule with its provincial
administration did not unite these peoples but it did impose
upon them the habit of a common type of administration, a
closer intercommunication through the English language and by
the education it gave there was created a more diffused and more
militant form of patriotism, the desire for liberation and the need
of unity in the struggle to achieve that liberation. A sufficient
fighting unity was brought about to win freedom, but freedom
obtained did not carry with it a complete union of the country.
On the contrary, India was deliberately split on the basis of the
two-nation theory into Pakistan and Hindustan with the deadly
consequences which we know.
In taking over the administration from Britain we had
inevitably to follow the line of least resistance and proceed on
the basis of the artificial British-made provinces, at least for the
time; this provisional arrangement now threatens to become
permanent, at least in the main and some see an advantage in
this permanence. For they think it will help the unification of the
country and save us from the necessity of preserving regional
subnations which in the past kept a country from an entire
and thoroughgoing unification and uniformity. In a rigorous
unification they see the only true union, a single nation with a
standardised and uniform administration, language, literature,
culture, art, education,—all carried on through the agency
of one national tongue. How far such a conception can be
Messages on Indian and World Events 501
carried out in the future one cannot forecast, but at present it is
obviously impracticable, and it is doubtful if it is for India truly
desirable. The ancient diversities of the country carried in them
great advantages as well as drawbacks. By these differences the
country wasmade the home ofmany living and pulsating centres
of life, art, culture, a richly and brilliantly coloured diversity
in unity; all was not drawn up into a few provincial capitals
or an imperial metropolis, other towns and regions remaining
subordinated and indistinctive or even culturally asleep; the
whole nation lived with a full life in its many parts and this
increased enormously the creative energy of the whole. There
is no possibility any longer that this diversity will endanger or
diminish the unity of India. Those vast spaces which kept her
people from closeness and a full interplay have been abolished in
their separating effect by the march of Science and the swiftness
of the means of communication. The idea of federation and a
complete machinery for its perfect working have been discovered
and will be at full work. Above all, the spirit of patriotic unity
has been too firmly established in the people to be easily effaced
or diminished, and it would be more endangered by refusing to
allow the natural play of life of the subnations than by satisfying
their legitimate aspirations. The Congress itself in the days
before liberation came had pledged itself to the formation of linguistic
provinces, and to follow it out, if not immediately, yet as
early asmay conveniently be,might well be considered thewisest
course. India’s national life will then be founded on her natural
strengths and the principle of unity in diversity which has always
been normal to her and its fulfilment the fundamental course of
her being and its very nature, the Many in the One, would place
her on the sure foundation of her Swabhava and Swadharma.
This development might well be regarded as the inevitable
trend of her future. For the Dravidian regional peoples are
demanding their separate right to a self-governing existence;
Maharashtra expects a similar concession and this would mean
a similar development in Gujarat and then the British-made
Presidencies of Madras and Bombay would have disappeared.
The old Bengal Presidency had already been split up and Orissa,
502 On Indian and World Events
Bihar and Assam are now self-governing regional peoples. A
merger of the Hindi-speaking part of the Central Provinces and
the U.P. would complete the process. An annulment of the partition
of India might modify but would not materially alter this
result of the general tendency. A union of States and regional
peoples would again be the form of a united India.
In this new regime your University will find its function and
fulfilment. Its origin has been different from that of other Indian
Universities; they were established by the initiative of a foreign
Government as a means of introducing their own civilisation
into India, situated in the capital towns of the Presidencies and
formed as teaching and examining bodies with purely academic
aims: Benares and Aligarh had a different origin but were all-
India institutions serving the two chief religious communities of
the country. Andhra University has been created by a patriotic
Andhra initiative, situated not in a Presidency capital but in
an Andhra town and serving consciously the life of a regional
people. The home of a robust and virile and energetic race,
great by the part it had played in the past in the political life of
India, great by its achievements in art, architecture, sculpture,
music, Andhra looks back upon imperial memories, a place in
the succession of empires and imperial dynasties which reigned
over a large part of the country; it looks back on the more recent
memory of the glories of the last Hindu Empire of Vijayanagar,
—a magnificent record for any people. Your University can take
its high position as a centre of light and learning, knowledge and
culturewhich can train the youth of Andhra to beworthy of their
forefathers: the great past should lead to a future as great or even
greater. Not only Science but Art, not only book-knowledge and
information but growth in culture and character are parts of a
true education; to help the individual to develop his capacities,
to help in the forming of thinkers and creators and men of vision
and action of the future, this is a part of its work. Moreover, the
life of the regional people must not be shut up in itself; its youths
have also to contact the life of the other similar peoples of India
interacting with them in industry and commerce and the other
practical fields of life but also in the things of the mind and spirit.
Messages on Indian and World Events 503
Also, they have to learn not only to be citizens of Andhra but to
be citizens of India; the life of the nation is their life. An elite has
to be formed which has an adequate understanding of all great
national affairs or problems and be able to represent Andhra in
the councils of the nation and in every activity and undertaking
of national interest calling for the support and participation of
her peoples. There is still a wider field in which India will need
the services of men of ability and character from all parts of
the country, the international field. For she stands already as
a considerable international figure and this will grow as time
goes on into vast proportions; she is likely in time to take her
place as one of the preponderant States whose voices will be
strongest and their lead and their action determinative of the
world’s future. For all this she needs men whose training as well
as their talent, genius and force of character is of the first order.
In all these fields your University can be of supreme service and
do a work of immeasurable importance.
In this hour, in the second year of its liberation the nation
has to awaken tomanymore very considerable problems, to vast
possibilities opening before her but also to dangers and difficulties
that may, if not wisely dealt with, become formidable. There
is a disordered world-situation left by the war, full of risks and
sufferings and shortages and threatening another catastrophe
which can only be solved by the united effort of the peoples
and can only be truly met by an effort at world-union such as
was conceived at San Francisco but has not till now been very
successful in the practice; still the effort has to be continued
and new devices found which will make easier the difficult transition
from the perilous divisions of the past and present to a
harmonious world-order; for otherwise there can be no escape
from continuous calamity and collapse. There are deeper issues
for India herself, since by following certain tempting directions
she may conceivably become a nation like many others evolving
an opulent industry and commerce, a powerful organisation of
social and political life, an immense military strength, practising
power-politics with a high degree of success, guarding and
extending zealously her gains and her interests, dominating even
504 On Indian and World Events
a large part of the world, but in this apparently magnificent progression
forfeiting its Swadharma, losing its soul. Then ancient
India and her spirit might disappear altogether and we would
have only one more nation like the others and that would be
a real gain neither to the world nor to us. There is a question
whether she may prosper more harmlessly in the outward life
yet lose altogether her richly massed and firmly held spiritual
experience and knowledge. It would be a tragic irony of fate
if India were to throw away her spiritual heritage at the very
moment when in the rest of the world there is more and more a
turning towards her for spiritual help and a saving Light. This
must not and will surely not happen; but it cannot be said that
the danger is not there. There are indeed other numerous and
difficult problems that face this country or will very soon face it.
No doubt we will win through, but we must not disguise from
ourselves the fact that after these long years of subjection and
its cramping and impairing effects a great inner as well as outer
liberation and change, a vast inner and outer progress is needed
if we are to fulfil India’s true destiny.

December 1948

Complete works of Sri Aurobindo Vol 36 p 498-504

In a remarkable 4-part series, Mobarek Haider says what few in India, leave alone
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A Heretical call for reform in Pakistan

In all the ongoing critique of MSM and its shortcomings, it is rather strange that when something is done on principle, and is worthy of praise, it happens to come from the place we would least expect it to – a Pakistani newspaper Dawn. In a remarkable 4-part series, Mobarek Haider says what few in India, leave alone Pakistan would dare to say. In speaking his mind, Haider has clearly risked his life, but has clung to Truth – a rare feat, in any country, and most certainly true in Pakistan where even a 14-year old girl can be shot at for her writings.

Boldly, and provocatively titled Coexistence with India, (a heretical idea to the powers that be), he makes his case for a newly thought out identity for the artificial country called Pakistan. Three of the 4 parts to this series have been published. I have reproduced below some of the note-worthy excerpts from all three.

Coexistence with India

 | 19th February, 2013

[Mobarak Haidar]“..The dominant classes of Pakistan that demanded separation from the rest of India in 1947 were mainly the same who had ruled India under different Muslim dynasties. They were the landed aristocracy, “pirs” and ulema of different levels. They lost power to the British, but never gave up their claim over India. Some Muslims who served the British as civil servants and the army men also joined to share the ambition for power. Being small in number these groups, even with the support of the entire Muslim population of India could not hope to dominate a huge Indian population in a democratic system. Therefore, they aroused the Muslim masses to support their demand for a separate homeland, appealing to their religious pride and fear of persecution.”

“With absolute lack of vision, our political and military leadership created a mindset which has no respect for systems of a modern state. The only authority that appeals to this mindset is the maulana and the mujahid. A very heartbreaking struggle awaits our lines of defense.”

“when the East wing was gone and the two nation theory almost done, Z A Bhutto added another enemy to the list of our eternal enemies. Now we had Hindus and Jews in addition to atheists, a thousand years to fight for a thousand miles on the East and a thousand miles across the Holy Lands. We injected our nation’s blood in the nukes till the intoxicated nation lost its consciousness due to anemia. How rewarding was it to have the Islamic bomb?”

“We fought India each time to lose, because the US did not support us but we won against the Soviets because the Free World stood behind. We consistently refused to see that not only America but the whole world valued India and Israel.”

“The enemy within is a breed of crude, unreasoning tyrants who have no respect for life and law, not even their own. The mindset which created this self-righteous specie is strongly negative. It negates and excludes all that is “the others”, so that what remains to be admired is “we” and “ours”. Everything we do is right and just. Unfortunately, for more than a millennium, we, the Muslims of the world, served our ruling elite as their power base, as their soldiers, their police and agricultural work force. Perpetual conflict with the subject people, excessive emphasis on faith and dominance of the dogmatic Ulema dried up the positive human creativity of Muslims, as well as their subjects.”

“We have to open a national seminar that aims at reforming our middle class concepts of guilt and virtue and competence. Disastrous ambitions of political Islam to rule this region and the world must be exposed as merit-less and suicidal. Islam must be redeemed as a soft and kind path to ethical goodness and humility. Its role must end as a weapon in the hands of an aggressively pretentious but totally uncreative mullah.”

“Rulers can win their subjects’ respect, even their affection, with their wisdom and justice. After many atrocities and crimes against their Indian subjects the British were able to leave India as almost friends, and no hostility exists today between them and their former subjects because their leaders and people confessed their crimes; they agreed to leave..”

“Unfortunately, unlike the colonial capitalists of Europe, our ancestors had very few benefits to offer to their Zimmis in India which could endear them to their subjects. Added to it was the religious pride of our ulema that believed in the supremacy of Islam and flaunted it without a semblance of courtesy or hesitation. This only antagonised the subject people ever more deeply and necessitated perpetual use of force to maintain Muslim rule. In order to nourish the fighting spirit of the soldiers and common Muslims, ever more pride of faith and ever deeper contempt for reason was injected into their psyche through the ulema and clergy. The principle of equal human treatment of the Muslims and non-Muslims remained alien to their rule.”

“The absence of positive performance was compensated with boastful pride of the ability to destroy. That is perhaps an inherited attitude when our orators in Pakistan proudly talk of what we destroyed: our ancestors destroyed Indian idols and kings followed by the recent smashing of the peaceful Buddha; recently we destroyed the Soviet Union, we have pushed America to disaster, we shall destroy India, Europe and every system of “Jahiliah”, including our own systems and people in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This mindset hardly ever asks: what did we create or build?”

“We, as a nation, have gradually lost all respect for science and scientists; we have substituted research with conspiracy theories; we boast of our nuclear build-up, which is again an ability to destroy, not defend, an ability stolen from heretics without learning the science that creates it. This shortcut mentality, to escape science and invention, is an expression of our lazy, self-righteous pretensions. To bury the guilt, our power hungry ulema expects us to admire a scientist, a nuclear opportunist who admires the Taliban, and hate the real scientists of the world as heretics.”

“It is, therefore, natural for our people with this mindset to support the monster when it destroys Pakistan and the world with the banner of Islam in its hand. Self-righteousness is the dismissal of humility; it jams our ability to objectively appreciate merit, so that the virtue and merit of others never attracts our attention. Bragging of our own virtue and merit grows louder as our record of performance dips. This dichotomy of practice and pretension paralyses judgment and kills the resolve to make amends.”

“Ever since Independence, our governments and army leaders propagated the easy excuse that India aspires to annex Pakistan to realise an ancient Hindu dream of “Greater India”. But was this view realistic? Is it an exclusively Hindu dream? The fact is: Muslim rulers and the ulema also desired Greater India. They had endeavored hard for centuries to rule the whole of India; many times in these seven centuries they tried to hold Afghanistan with one hand while holding Bengal with the other. Ever since 1947, our generals and leaders have tried to grab Afghanistan and hold Bengal by force. Our lions and eagles still dream to destroy Bharat and make it a Muslim colony again.”

“Thus, it was natural for the ancient people of the subcontinent to dream of a united India even if it was no more possible. Long before the Muslim conquerors, India had Ashoka, Kanishka and Harshwardhana who ruled large parts of India with no less glory than the Muslims did. It was hardly anything abnormal if some nostalgic sons of the soil wished to restore their past glory in their own land, while the majority did not share the dream. Hindus have lived in this land for more than 4000 years with a deep sense of belonging. On the contrary, our Muslim ancestors came 1000 years ago and did not develop a sense of belonging. They did not assimilate or integrate with the people they ruled, keeping their identity as foreigners, with loyalty to the holy lands of Arabia. The British also ruled as foreigners but they did not demand a part of India like we did; they agreed to leave India while we did not, although we declared that we were not Indians. Our self-righteousness so limits our sense of justice that what we practice with great pomp and show, seems hateful to us if others desire it.”

“Justice and honesty demand that facts be examined before we accept or reject a claim. The facts did not verify the claim that India aspired to annex Pakistan or a part of it. Although a limited right wing of Indian politics threatened to avenge the wrongs of history, yet that mood never dominated India. On the contrary our opinion makers and the ulema on this side of the border kept pushing up on mass level the hype to conquer Kashmir and hoist our flag over the “Red Fort”.”

“It is difficult in Pakistan to state the fact that India did not annex Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka or another dependent country. It did not annex Bangladesh which achieved its separation from Pakistan purely with Indian Army action. The wars which we claimed as Indian aggression on our eastern border were later exposed as our own initiation. These are facts that embarrass our claims of persecution.”

 
“… a larger self that lives within us, by ourselves unseen “

A new political system based on Indian ideals

Political thinkers, statesmen, policy makers, strategic visionaries, spiritual and national leaders, and others who are concerned about the future of India, and particularly in how we govern ourselves towards a future that we can be really proud of, would do well to reflect on the fact that the Indian constitution as it currently stands is by deliberate design completely bereft of any insight or input from her own 10,000+ history of native governance, during most of which the people enjoyed the highest standards of material, social and spiritual living.  The current corruption and degradation of the homeland of dharma are directly traceable to our total and wilful disconnect from the principles of the rishis, and our hope for correction, redemption, awakening, rejuvenation, renaissance, call it what you will, therefore rests in our return to our own genius in organizing society and nation, instead of having it be outsourced to the template of the British constitution, which is what we have slavishly copied and implemented since so-called Independence in 1947.  Since our borrowed constitution itself is totally out of alignment with our unique character, history, culture, values, and most importantly our dharma and svadharma, it cannot but lead us disastrously astray in how we behave with each other and how we run our nation’s affairs. 

We are therefore proposing a new system of governance which will reflect the deeper Indian spirit.

The foundations of the new system will be based on the following extracts from the writings of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

The first thing that you ought to do is to change the Constitution in such a way that those people who combine honesty and capability should come to power. Normally, people who are honest are not capable, and those who are capable are not honest. Therefore it is very important that people who combine these two qualities should be able to come to power.

 

                                                                 India the Mother p 204-205

 

In the book The Ideal of Human Unity, Sri Aurobindo has referred to the quality of the present day politician:

It is immaterial whether these (the politicians) belong to a governing class or emerge as in modern States from the mass partly by force of character, but much more by force of circumstances; nor does it make any essential difference that their aims and ideals are imposed nowadays more by the hypnotism of verbal persuasion than by overt and actual force. In either case, there is no guarantee that this ruling class or ruling body represents the best mind of the nation or its noblest aims or its highest instincts.

Nothing of the kind can be asserted of the modern politician in any part of the world; he does not represent the soul of a people or its aspirations. What he does usually represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about him and these he represents well enough as well as a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity and pretence. Great issues often come to him for decision, but he does not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on his lips, but they become rapidly the claptrap of a party. The disease and falsehood of modern political life is patent in every country of the world and only the hypnotised acquiescence of all, even of the intellectual classes, in the great organised sham, cloaks and prolongs the malady, the acquiescence that men yield to everything that is habitual and makes the present atmosphere of their lives. Yet it is by such minds that the good of all has to be decided, to such hands that it has to be entrusted, to such an agency calling itself the State that the individual is being more and more called upon to give up the government of his activities. As a matter of fact, it is in no way the largest good of all that is thus secured, but a great deal of organised blundering and evil with a certain amount of good which makes for real progress, because Nature moves forward always in the midst of all stumblings and secures her aims in the end more often in spite of man’s imperfect mentality than by its means.

It is evident that if any real improvement has to take place, the quality of politicians and decision makers has to be of a much higher level; the problem and the attempt here is to find a system that will ensure this higher quality.

 

Here is another passage from the Mother’s writings:

Politics is always limited by party, by ideas, by duties also—unless we prepare a government that has no party, a government that admits all ideas because it is above parties. Party is limitation; it is like a box: you go into the box (Mother laughs). Of course, if there were some people who had the courage to be in the government without a party—“We represent no party! We represent India”—that would be magnificent.

 Pull the consciousness up, up, above party.

 And then, naturally, certain people who couldn’t come into political parties—that! that is truly working for tomorrow. Tomorrow it will be like that. All this turmoil is because the country must take the lead,  must  go above all these old political habits.

Government without party. Oh! it would be magnificent! (Emphasis added)

 

(25 May 1970: CWM, Vol.15, pp.426-28

 

 

 

In 1969, the Mother had given a message to the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi:

 

Let India work for the future and take the lead. Thus she will recover her true place in the world.

Since long it was the habit to govern through division and opposition. The time has come to govern through union, mutual understanding and collaboration.

To choose a collaborator, the value of the man is more important than the party to which he belongs.

The greatness of a country does not depend on the victory of a party, but on the union of all parties”.

May1970
Here is one more passage from Sri Aurobindo:

Parliamentary Government is not suited to India. But we always take up what the West has thrown off…. [In an ideal government for India,] there may be one Rashtrapati at the top with considerable powers so as to secure a continuity of policy, and an assembly representative of the nation. The provinces will combine into a federation united at the top, leaving ample scope to local bodies to make laws according to their local problems.

(Evening Talks, Dec 27, 1938)

One important feature of Indian Democracy which we have discussed in the first part of the series lies in the importance of Dharma. “A greater sovereign than the king was the Dharma, the religious, ethical, social, political, and customary law organically governing the life of the people. This impersonal authority was considered sacred and eternal in its spirit and the totality of its body, always characteristically the same, the changes organically and spontaneously brought about in its actual form by the evolution of the society; and it must be noted that with the Dharma no secular authority had any right of autocratic interference. The Brahmins themselves were recorders and exponents of the Dharma, not its creators nor authorised to make at will any changes, The king was only the guardian, executor and servant of the Dharma, charged to see to its observance and to prevent offences, serious irregularities and breaches. He himself was bound the first to obey it and observe the rigorous rule it laid on his personal life and action and on the province, powers and duties of his regal authority and office.”

 

Before proceeding further, let us sum up the salient features of these statements.

  1. People in power that is to say both in the Executive and the Legislature need to be both honest and capable. The question is how do we ensure this?
  2. The country is the most important and all politicians must be ready to rise above all other loyalties – party or regional or caste loyalties – and always keep the country first.
  3. It does not mean that parties will be eliminated; but what is necessary is that parties should learn to subordinate the party interest and all other interests to the national interest and work with unity despite differences of perception.
  4. There has to be centralisation of power in the most important and vital aspects of governance; but in all else there must a great deal of decentralisation, right up to the village level.
  5. It has to be representative of the people, that is to say truly democratic in practice. The constitution must be based on fundamental Indian principles, its swadharma. The principle of Dharma has to be introduced in the governance of the nation.
  6. There must be stability and continuity in the government.

 

Basing ourselves on these principles we are proposing a new system. It is evident that this is a difficult proposition. But the attempt has to be made and we hope that we will be able to find a system that fulfils these psychological conditions to a certain extent at least.

At the same time, we must never forget that a system cannot solve all the problems. No system can solve all problems, but we shall try to find a system which reflects as far as possible the national temperament and genius of the people.  In the words of Sri Aurobindo:

A system is in its very nature at once an effectuation and a limitation of the spirit; and yet we must have a science and art of life, a system of living. All that is needed is that the lines laid down should be large and noble, capable of evolution so that the spirit may more and more express itself in life, flexible even in its firmness so that it may absorb and harmonize new material and enlarge its variety and richness without losing its unity”

We shall therefore try to propose a system which is large and noble and capable of evolution; this can then be debated on the national level and gradually a workable system might emerge. The aim of the system will be as follows: to provide all possible facilities for cooperative action, remove obstacles, prevent all really harmful waste and friction,—a certain amount of waste and friction is necessary and useful to all natural action,—and, removing avoidable injustice, to secure for every individual a just and equal chance of self-development and satisfaction to the extent of his powers and in the line of his nature.

The System

The system that we propose will be based on the following two cardinal points:

Firstly the persons in power who are the decision makers must be of absolute integrity; they must be totally honest and also capable, for governance in modern times demands a highly professional knowledge.

The second point is that we must make dharma the central principle of the governing system.

 

The master idea that has governed the life, culture, social ideals of the Indian people has been the seeking of man for his true spiritual self and the use of life as a frame and means for that discovery and for man’s ascent from the ignorant natural into the spiritual existence. But the difficulty of making the social life an expression of man’s true self and some highest realisation of the spirit within him is immensely great; therefore she could not in the outward life go beyond certain very partial realisations and very imperfect tentatives,—a general spiritualising symbolism, an infiltration of the greater aspiration, a certain cast given to the communal life, the creation of institutions favourable to the spiritual idea. Politics, society, economics are the natural field of the two first and grosser parts of human aim and conduct recognised in the Indian system, interest and hedonistic desire:

Dharma, the higher law, has nowhere been brought more than partially into this outer side of life, and in politics to a very minimum extent; for the effort at governing political action by ethics is usually little more than a pretence. It is perhaps for a future India, taking up and enlarging with a more complete aim, a more comprehensive experience, a more certain knowledge that shall reconcile life and the spirit, her ancient mission, to found the status and action of the collective being of man on the realisation of the deeper spiritual truth.

 

Some characteristic features of Dharma

In its broad principle and proper application, the varna system based on Dharma of Vedic India had the following beneficial effects.

  • The varna system created a harmonious mode of transaction and interaction within the members of each class and between them, without placing people in the situations of conflict of interest and temptation that are the hallmark of our loosely organized professional society today.  In other words, the roots of corruption are avoided in such an ordering or work groups and professions.
  • How can the lessons we have learned so far from this examination of Vedic dharma principles be applied to the problems facing Indian democracy in particular, and Indian society in general?  While some of the measures indicated below may seem infeasible or impractical in today’s corrupt environment, let us remember that extreme times call for extreme solutions.   To work our way out of the deep morass of our collective moral and ethical failures in the years since 1947, we should be boldly prepared to consider radical measures, especially if they carry the seal of validity based on the historical record of dharmacracy.
  • Establish and demarcate the boundaries of duties, responsibilities, rules and norms of behaviour for the ruling class (administrators, rulers, politicians, technocrats, bureaucrats, public servants, etc.) such that only people of impeccable character and moral standards, with a passion for public service and a commitment to national interest over all else are allowed to be a part of this group. 
  • Businessmen and others with avowed interests in other professions would be disqualified from belonging to the ruling class.  In particular, politicians with assets disproportionate to their legitimate sources of income would be automatically disqualified from contesting elections or standing for public office at any level. 
  • Build a firewall between business interests and government officials, politicians, etc. such that money cannot influence or buy power, as is the norm today.  In particular, not a single rupee of corporate funding will be allowed to taint the public interest through financing of election campaigns of individuals.
  • Screen and remove from the public payroll anyone whose main allegiance is not to his or her job, organization and nation.  Public jobs should not be entitlements to exploit for side income and then retire from comfortably.  Rather they should be seen as ways to serve the national interest through self-less dharmic duty.
  • Establish clear rules of conduct and standards for knowledge workers, similar to the Brahmins of yore, so that their search for truth and knowledge is not tainted by coveting after money or power.  Ensure that people who are in roles of advisors or consultants to governments, think tanks, economic councils, etc. are not subject to conflicts of interests due to their role as investors, corporate employees, business lobbyists, and other vested interests.

A few points that we need to emphasise before we get down to practical proposals.

The first lesson we have to learn from the ancient Indian ideal of politics is that mass-popularity and charisma cannot be the sole basis of political leadership. One of the surprising facts of modern society in that while some standards of qualification, experience, skill, ability and the requisite aptitude are insisted upon for leadership position in business industry, commerce, education and other fields, no such standards exists in politics. We frequently bemoan the poor quality of our political leaders forgetting the fact we ourselves are responsible for it! How can there be sound politics when the products of pure mass popularity become politicians and ministers? The simple fact – which is unanimously recognised and practiced in other sections of the society – that a leader should have the right temperament and the intellectual and moral calibre and ability to provide high quality leadership is simply ignored in modern politics.

But in modern democratic polity, which elects the political leaders by vote, there is no such mental or moral education or standards for the leaders. As a result there is a great deterioration in the quality of political leadership.

How to rectify this situation?

The first step is to educate the citizen and the voter on the ideals of true leadership and on the type of leaders which can bring the highest wellbeing to people and society. In this task, the modern mass-media with its extensive reach can be a great help in educating the public on how to choose the right type of leaders.

The second step is to maintain certain basic mental and moral standards for contesting the election like for example some minimum educational qualification or no criminal record.

The third step is to educate the elected leaders on the ideals of leadership and governance and how to develop the psychological, moral and spiritual power needed to lead and govern in the right way. For example in most of the big and progressive companies in the corporate world, managers and executives go through regular training and development programmes for upgrading their knowledge and skill and some of them make a conscious, systematic and planned effort to educate and groom their future leaders. A similar effort has to be made in the political domain.

The fourth step is to promote creative thinking and research in political thought, governance and leadership. Here again the modern political world can learn much from the corporate world. Modern business has given birth to the science of management which is a rigorous and innovative academic and professional discipline, which nourishes theoretical and practical research on the various aspects of corporate management, governance and leadership. A similar attempt has to be made in the political domain.

The other important lesson we have to learn from Indian polity is the need to harness the highest intellectual, moral and spiritual energy of the community for uplifting the political life. In ancient Indian polity this was done by the following methods:

1. Council of Ministers must be made of people with the highest character, wisdom and experience for guiding the ruler.
2. Subjecting the ruler to the higher ideals of dharma and imposing a rigorous mental and moral education and discipline on the leader.

3. Guidance from the spiritual wisdom of seers and seekers of spiritual knowledge. This leads naturally to the next question: what are the qualities of the leader. He must have a consciousness which is higher than that of the most. He must be one who has exceeded his individual ego: his preferences, his insistences, his personal mould. He should have something of a universal consciousness which embraces the interests and aspirations of all who come under his management. He must be both wider and higher than the rest. It is only then that he can be trusted to strive for the collective welfare and carry others with him. He must identify himself with the true interests of the community and not let his own personal preferences interfere. He should be able to set these aside. In other words he must be able to forget himself. Of course it does not mean that he should be just a mouth-piece for the commonalty. He should be a leader whose consciousness is above all manipulation, strong enough to impose itself correctively, warm enough to gain the acceptance and loyalty of the right-thinking elements.

The Proposals

The first step that is being proposed is to shift from the Parliamentary system to the Presidential system. The main purpose is to separate the legislative and the executive.

The Executive

The President must be the chief Executive and he is to be elected directly by the people. It is also proposed that voting should be made compulsory. It is possible that there might be practical difficulties in making voting compulsory but it is worth discussing how these may be overcome.

The President must fulfil the following qualifications.

  1. He must have had at least twenty years of eminent public service in any capacity.
  2. He must have a record of impeccable character.

 

Mode of Election

It is inevitable that there will be a few candidates who will stand for the Presidency. One can very well adopt the French system of successive elections; however since the country is large, it will be very costly to have two elections. It is therefore proposed that the voters should indicate their 1st, 2nd and 3rd preferences. If after the first count, one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, he is elected. If not the candidate getting the lowest number of first preference votes is eliminated, the second preference voters who then voted for him are then assigned to the other candidates, and so on till one of them gets more than 50%.

The President‘s term will be of a duration of five years and he can be removed only by impeachment. He may be allowed to stand for two terms only.

He will select his ministers from any citizen of India. These ministers must not be part of the Legislature. If a minister is selected from the legislature, he must resign from the legislature.

The ministers must have a long record of public service in any field; there must be no criminal case filed in any court against him. If there is any case against him, the Supreme Court must dispose it off within three months. If he is convicted, he loses his post, otherwise he continues as a minister.

The ministers will be allowed to attend and participate in the Legislature; however they will not be allowed to vote.

The Legislature

The present system of elections may continue. However, it must be made clear that the legislators have only one work to do and that is to make the laws for the country; their whole concentration should be focussed on this and this alone.  Therefore they should be debarred from holding any office of profit or other post. They should be paid their salaries and nothing else. All laws made by Parliament will have to be finally approved and signed by the President. Here too voting must be made compulsory.

Here too there must be a careful scrutiny of those who aspire to be legislators. The legislator must have some acquaintance of public service in any field; he must have some minimum educational qualification, a graduate in any subject and no criminal record. If there is a case against him, the Supreme Court must dispose it off within three months. If he is convicted, he loses the right to contest elections.

Representation of different classes

It is important that the legislators represent the different classes and to ensure that, a system of reservation may be introduced. In other words, the Lok Sabha must represent the four large group of interest, the men of knowledge, the men of power, the men of finance and the working class.

As a suggestion, it might be good to reserve 100 seats (the number can vary) for each of the four classes, the men of knowledge, the administrative and the warrior class, the business class and the representative of the labour class. Thus 400 seats or less will be reserved and the remaining 142 seats will be open to all citizens of India.

For the rest, the present system may continue with and all modifications needed may be discussed on the national plane.

Kittu Reddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extract from The Fifteenth of August 1947
Sri Aurobindo
August 15th is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the
end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But it has a
significance not only for us, but for Asia and the whole world;
for it signifies the entry into the comity of nations of a new
power with untold potentialities which has a great part to play
in determining the political, social, cultural and spiritual future
of humanity. To me personally it must naturally be gratifying
that this date which was notable only for me because it was my
own birthday celebrated annually by those who have accepted
my gospel of life, should have acquired this vast significance.
As a mystic, I take this identification, not as a coincidence or
fortuitous accident, but as a sanction and seal of the Divine
Power which guides my steps on the work with which I began
life. Indeed almost all the world movements which I hoped to
see fulfilled in my lifetime, though at that time they looked like
impossible dreams, I can observe on this day either approaching
fruition or initiated and on the way to their achievement.
I have been asked for a message on this great occasion, but
6 Sri Aurobindo wrote this message at the request of All India Radio, Tiruchirapalli,
for broadcast on the eve of the day when India achieved independence, 15 August 1947.
The text submitted was found to be too long for the allotted time-slot. Sri Aurobindo
revised it, and the shorter version (pages 478 – 80) was broadcast on 14 August 1947.
On Indian Independence 475
I am perhaps hardly in a position to give one. All I can do is to
make a personal declaration of the aims and ideals conceived in
my childhood and youth and now watched in their beginning
of fulfilment, because they are relevant to the freedom of India,
since they are a part of what I believe to be India’s future work,
something in which she cannot but take a leading position. For
I have always held and said that India was arising, not to serve
her own material interests only, to achieve expansion, greatness,
power and prosperity,—though these too she must not neglect,
—and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other
peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and
leader of the whole human race. Those aims and ideals were
in their natural order these: a revolution which would achieve
India’s freedom and her unity; the resurgence and liberation of
Asia and her return to the great role which she had played in
the progress of human civilisation; the rise of a new, a greater,
brighter and nobler life for mankind which for its entire realisation
would rest outwardly on an international unification of the
separate existence of the peoples, preserving and securing their
national life but drawing them together into an overriding and
consummating oneness; the gift by India of her spiritual knowledge
and her means for the spiritualisation of life to the whole
race; finally, a new step in the evolution which, by uplifting the
consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of the
many problems of existence which have perplexed and vexed
humanity, since men began to think and to dream of individual
perfection and a perfect society.
India is free but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured
and broken freedom. At one time it almost seemed as if she
might relapse into the chaos of separate States which preceded
the British conquest. Fortunately there has now developed a
strong possibility that this disastrous relapse will be avoided.
The wisely drastic policy of the Constituent Assembly makes it
possible that the problem of the depressed classes will be solved
without schism or fissure. But the old communal division into
Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of
a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped
476 On Indian and World Events
that the Congress and the nation will not accept the settled
fact as for ever settled 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. The partition of the country
must go,—it is to be hoped by a slackening of tension, by a
progressive understanding of the need of peace and concord, by
the constant necessity of common and concerted action, even of
an instrument of union for that purpose. In this way unity may
come about under whatever form—the exact form may have a
pragmatic but not a fundamental importance. But by whatever
means, the division must and will go. For without it the destiny
of India might be seriously impaired and even frustrated. But
that must not be.
Complete Works of  Sri Aurobindo Vol 36 p 475-476

 

 

The Mother on women as the executive power

 Here.( a red rose) Now this, you see, this is more dynamic. You

won’t be able to see it, but it is more dynamic.

But women, women are in principle the executive power.

You must never forget that. And in order to receive the inspiration,

you can take support from a masculine consciousness if you

feel the need for it. There is the Supreme Consciousness which is

more certain, but still, if you need an intermediary… But for the

execution, it is you who have the power to carry it out in all the

details, with all the power of organisation. I am instilling this

into our women Members of Parliament—you know, there are

women in Parliament, and I am teaching them that: do not be

submissive to men. It is you who have the power of execution.

This will have its effect.

(To A and B) Oh! This is not to belittle… (laughter) The

inspiration comes… the execution is…

Complete Works of The Mother Vol 12 p426

 

That is why no law can liberate women unless they liberate

themselves; likewise, men too, in spite of all their habits of

domination, will cease to be slaves only when they have freed

themselves from all inner enslavement.

And this state of veiled struggle, often unavowed but always

present in the subconscient even in the best cases, seems

unavoidable, unless human beings rise above their ordinary consciousness

to identify themselves with the perfect consciousness

and unite with the Supreme Reality. For as soon as one attains

this higher consciousness one realises that the difference

between man and woman reduces itself to a purely physical

difference.

 

Complete Works of The Mother Vol 12 p104

 

 

Sri Aurobindo on Hinduism  – an extract

 And if we are asked, “But after all what is Hinduism, what does it teach, what does it practise, what are its common factors?” we can answer that Indian religion is founded upon three basic ideas or rather three fundamentals of a highest and widest spiritual experience. First comes the idea of theOne Existence of the Veda to whom sages give different names, the One without a second of the Upanishads who is all that is and beyond all that is, the Permanent of the Buddhists, the Absolute of the Illusionists, the supreme God or Purusha of the Theists who holds in his power the soul and Nature,—in a word the Eternal, the Infinite. This

1 The only religion that India has apparently rejected in the end, is Buddhism; but

in fact this appearance is a historical error. Buddhism lost its separative force, because

its spiritual substance, as opposed to its credal parts, was absorbed by the religious

mind of Hindu India. Even so, it survived in the North and was exterminated not by

Shankaracharya or another, but by the invading force of Islam.

 

is the first common foundation; but it can be and is expressed in an endless variety of formulas by the human intelligence. To discover and closely approach and enter into whatever kind or degree of unity with this Permanent, this Infinite, this Eternal, is the highest height and last effort of its spiritual experience. That is the first universal credo of the religious mind of India.

Admit in whatever formula this foundation, follow this great spiritual aim by one of the thousand paths recognised in India or even any new path which branches off from them and you are at the core of the religion. For its second basic idea is the manifold way of man’s approach to the Eternal and Infinite. The Infinite is full of many infinities and each of these infinities is itself the very Eternal. And here in the limitations of the cosmos God manifests himself and fulfils himself in the world in many ways, but each is the way of the Eternal. For in each finite we can discover and through all things as his forms and symbols we can approach the Infinite; all cosmic powers are manifestations, all forces are forces of the One. The gods behind the workings of Nature are to be seen and adored as powers, names and personalities of the one Godhead. An infinite Conscious-Force, executive Energy, Will or Law, Maya, Prakriti, Shakti or Karma, is behind all happenings, whether to us they seem good or bad, acceptable or inacceptable, fortunate or adverse. The Infinite creates and is Brahma; it preserves and is Vishnu; it destroys or takes to itself and is Rudra or Shiva. The supreme Energy beneficent in upholding and protection is or else formulates itself as the Mother of the worlds, Luxmi or Durga. Or beneficent even in the mask of destruction, it is Chandi or it is Kali, the dark Mother. The One Godhead manifests himself in the form of his qualities in various names and godheads. The God of divine love of the Vaishnava, the God of divine power of the Shakta appear as two different godheads; but in truth they are the one infinite Deity in different figures. One may

2 This explanation of Indian polytheism is not a modern invention created to meet

Western reproaches; it is to be found explicitly stated in the Gita; it is, still earlier, the

sense of the Upanishads; it was clearly stated in so many words in the first ancient days

by the “primitive” poets (in truth the profound mystics) of the Veda.

 

approach the Supreme through any of these names and forms, with knowledge or in ignorance; for through them and beyond them we can proceed at last to the supreme experience.

One thing however has to be noted that while many modernised Indian religionists tend, by way of an intellectual compromise with modern materialistic rationalism, to explain away these things as symbols, the ancient Indian religious mentality saw them not only as symbols but as world-realities,—even if to the Illusionist realities only of the world of Maya. For between the highest unimaginable Existence and our material way of being the spiritual and psychic knowledge of India did not fix a gulf as between two unrelated opposites. It was aware of other psychological planes of consciousness and experience and the truths of these supraphysical planes were no less real to it than the outward truths of the material universe. Man approaches God at first according to his psychological nature and his capacity for deeper experience, svabhava, adhik ara. The level of Truth, the plane of consciousness he can reach is determined by his inner evolutionary stage. Thence comes the variety of religious cult, but its data are not imaginary structures, inventions of priests or poets, but truths of a supraphysical existence intermediate between the consciousness of the physical world and the ineffable superconscience of the Absolute.

 The third idea of strongest consequence at the base of Indian religion is the most dynamic for the inner spiritual life. It is that while the Supreme or the Divine can be approached through a universal consciousness and by piercing through all inner and outer Nature, That or He can be met by each individual soul in itself, in its own spiritual part, because there is something in it that is intimately one or at least intimately related with the one divine Existence. The essence of Indian religion is to

aim at so growing and so living that we can grow out of the Ignorance which veils this self-knowledge from our mind and life and become aware of the Divinity within us. These three things put together are the whole of Hindu religion, its essential sense and, if any credo is needed, its credo.

 

 

Sri Aurobindo. CWSA VOL 20 p 194-195

Sri Aurobindo on the role of the State
The business of the State, so long as it continues to be a
necessary element in human life and growth, is to provide all
possible facilities for cooperative action, to remove obstacles,
to prevent all really harmful waste and friction,—a certain
amount of waste and friction is necessary and useful to all
natural action,—and, removing avoidable injustice, to secure
for every individual a just and equal chance of self-development
and satisfaction to the extent of his powers and in the line of his
nature. So far the aim in modern socialism is right and good. But
302 The Ideal of Human Unity
all unnecessary interference with the freedom of man’s growth
is or can be harmful. Even cooperative action is injurious if, instead
of seeking the good of all compatibly with the necessities
of individual growth,—and without individual growth there
can be no real and permanent good of all,—it immolates the
individual to a communal egoism and prevents so much free
room and initiative as is necessary for the flowering of a more
perfectly developed humanity. So long as humanity is not fullgrown,
so long as it needs to grow and is capable of a greater
perfectibility, there can be no static good of all; nor can there
be any progressive good of all independent of the growth of the
individuals composing the all. All collectivist ideals which seek
unduly to subordinate the individual, really envisage a static
condition, whether it be a present status or one it soon hopes
to establish, after which all attempt at serious change would
be regarded as an offence of impatient individualism against
the peace, just routine and security of the happily established
communal order. Always it is the individual who progresses and
compels the rest to progress; the instinct of the collectivity is to
stand still in its established order. Progress, growth, realisation
of wider being give his greatest sense of happiness to the individual;
status, secure ease to the collectivity. And so it must be
as long as the latter is more a physical and economic entity than
a self-conscious collective soul.
CWSA Vol 25 P 302-303