Proposals for school education in India by Kittu Reddy

I am presenting here a brief outline of the reforms that I believe are urgently needed in the educational system prevailing in India. What I am proposing is probably somewhat radical and therefore needs to be handled with caution and care. Yet a beginning has to be made and it must done right now.

Proposals

Declare clearly the aims of education.

  • The aim of education is to help the child to develop his physical, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, moral, spiritual being and his communal life and impulses out of his own temperament and capacities or in other words to follow his swadharma.
  • to teach the child to know himself and choose his own destiny and the path he will follow.

 

The fulfilment of these aims will be based on the following principles:

  • The education should be integral or holistic, that is to say, that all the parts of the being should be given full scope for development. These parts are: the body, the life-energy, the mind and the deeper spiritual element present in each human being.
  • The teacher is not an instructor or task master, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil’s mind; he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process.
  • The child has to be consulted in his growth.
  • The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be.

 

 

Once this is accepted, the first thing to be done is to understand these principles with all their implications and then to find means of implementing them on the national scale.

  1. Since education is to be integral, the following steps have to be taken immediately.
  • Physical education must be made compulsory in all schools right up to class 12.
  • It will consist of health training and skill training.
  • Health training will include cleanliness, correction of physical defects at an early age, and development of good habits.
  • Skill training will give skills in different sports activities while at the same time stressing on physical fitness, strength, endurance, grace and harmony of movements. A graded series of physical fitness tests is attached.
  • The sporting spirit must be inculcated in children at this age. It is of great importance and will help the individual to face life.

Vital education will consist of two important parts:

  • Development of character or to put it in the words of Swami Vivekananda – man making – through self observation, self discipline, self regulation leading to self control and finally self mastery. External control by imposed discipline although indispensable at the beginning does not yield sure results. Detailed steps to attain this inner self control are attached.
  • The aesthetic sense or the sense of beauty has to be assiduously developed by exposing the child to all forms of art; at the same time stress must be laid not only on external beauty but also beauty of thoughts, sentiments and emotions. A developed sense of beauty helps greatly in the formation of Character.

Mental education will consist of the following:

  • Training of the instruments of knowledge. The first step in training of the senses.
  • The development of the power of concentration. This is the key to any progress in all fields.
  • The development of: The power of reasoning, the power of comparison and differentiation and the power of expression. Expression includes not only writing and speaking but also dramatics, art and various other forms.
  • At the same time show that the mind and intellect are not the highest instruments of knowledge. There are higher ranges accessible to man which can be attained through spiritual discipline.

Spiritual training will be given in the following ways:

  • No compulsion of any kind, only exposure to the finest examples of spiritual lives from all the religions and spiritual disciplines.
  • Every effort must be made to create a spiritual atmosphere in the schools; this is the most powerful influence, far more powerful than words and lectures.
  • A deep sense of patriotism where one explains that India is a living soul Bharat Mata by exposing the child to the most inspiring stories of Indian history.

The content of education in the fields of science and technology has to be constantly upgraded with all the new developments taking place in the world.

The content of books in the field of culture which include History, Sociology, Politics, Psychology and such other subjects should be thoroughly revised in the Indian light; this has to be done without being narrow and chauvinistic. This is of great importance so that not only do the children know about their culture but also develop a sense of pride in their culture.

  1. It has been stated that the child must be consulted in his growth; how do we implement that for in the present system the syllabus is fixed for all children. They have no choice in what they want to study. In order to remedy this situation the following suggestions are being made.
  • All children must be given a wide base of knowledge in the most important subjects; these should include three languages, mother tongue, Sanskrit and English. Sanskrit should be taught till this stage in the conversational form. The other subjects are: a reasonable grounding in mathematics, a basic course in all sciences and stressing the development of the scientific spirit, a good knowledge of history and geography and the science of collective living. This should be made compulsory till the age of 14+
  • After the age of 14, one should start giving freedom to the students to choose their subjects; but this will only apply to those who know how to use their freedom. Those who are not capable of self discipline and therefore unable to use their freedom properly should be asked to continue in the compulsory system. As and when these children show that they are capable of self discipline, they should be given more freedom in a phased manner. The whole intention is to make the child responsible for his own education and later of his own life.

But far more important is the realisation that it is not enough to develop the mental and academic qualities alone; this knowledge has to be applied to life. Life is a very important component of education, particularly the application of knowledge to life. In a sense the life of every day is the best education.

 

 

Evaluation

It is very important that in the evaluation of a child all the parts of the being should be taken into account. It is not enough to look only at the academic aspects as is generally done now. A good carpenter or mason is as important as a scholar. The total personality of the child should be the basis of evaluation.

It is suggested that one should abolish final exams which decide the fate of a child as it is done now in class 10 and 12. Instead one should judge the performance of the child throughout the year taking into account all aspects of the child’s work and personality. It is understood that there can be tests during the year which might include surprise tests etc. With a little imagination on the part of the teacher, these tests can be made very interesting and enjoyable and can reveal a good idea of the child’s capacities. Consequently the degrees and certificates given to students do not always reflect their true merit; it is high time that we devise a more reliable and accurate system of evaluation.

Tests must not become a source of tension; education must become a joy and not a burden.

It is also very important that computer education should be started in early childhood and that the child should be exposed to the latest technological developments.

In order to implement these concepts it is very important to organise a programme of Teachers Training throughout the country; in this context taking help of the internet will be useful. They are one of the most important factors in the education system.

Another suggestion is to start pilot projects is some schools all over the country. It might be good to have one in each State of India. There are already many forwarding looking schools in India but they are all inhibited by the present system. Once the green signal of support is given by the Government of India, the results will be visible in a short time. This will have a cascading effect in other schools.

 

 

Kittu Reddy

The Renaissance of India- Sri Aurobindo

The renascence of India is as inevitable as the rising of tomorrow’s sun, and the renascence of a great nation of three hundred millions with so peculiar a temperament, such unique traditions and ideas of life, so powerful an intelligence and so great a mass of potential energies cannot but be one of the most formidable phenomena of the modern world.

CWSA Vol 25 p333

Relevance of Sri Aurobindo in Modern India – a talk by Kittu Reddy

 

Relevance of Sri Aurobindo in Modern India

 

I consider it a great honour to have been invited to speak at this hallowed centre of learning in Calcutta. As you are all aware, the forerunner of this University was the Bengal National College and Sri Aurobindo was its first principal. In addition to Sri Aurobindo, there were other eminent personalities on the teaching staff of the College such as Raja Subodh Chandra Mallik, Birendra Kishore Roychowdhury, Rash Behari Ghosh, and Rabindranath Tagore to name just a few.

Sri Aurobindo who was the first principal of the Bengal National College left the post after a short stint as he was preoccupied with the political work. The
Swadeshi movement was in full swing at that time and the intense spiritual patriotism of Sri Aurobindo was permeating the whole of the Bengali society. I quote a portion of his speech on the occasion of his leaving the College:

“The only piece of advice that I can give you now is – carry on the work, the mission, for which this college was created. I have no doubt that all of you have realised by this time what this mission means.  When we established this college  and  left other occupations,  other chances of life,  to devote our  lives to this institution,  we did so because we hoped to see in it the foundation,  the nucleus of a nation,  of the new India which  is to  begin its career after this night of sorrow and trouble,   on that  day  of glory and greatness when India will  work  for  the world.   What we want here is not merely to give you a little information,   not merely to open to you careers for earning a     livelihood, but to build up sons for the Motherland to work and to suffer for her.  That is why we started this college and that is the work to which I want you to devote yourselves in future. 

What has been insufficiently and imperfectly begun by us, it is for you to complete and lead to perfection.  When I come back I wish to see some of you becoming rich, rich not for yourselves but that you may enrich the Mother with your riches.  I wish  to see  some of you becoming great, great not for your own sakes, not that you may satisfy your own vanity,  but great for her,  to make  India  great,  to enable her to stand up  with  head  erect among the nations of the earth,  as she did in days of yore  when the world looked up to her for light.  Even those who will remain poor and obscure, I want to see their very poverty and obscurity devoted to the Motherland.  There are times in a nation’s history when Providence places before it one work, one aim, to which everything else, however high and noble in itself, to be sacrificed.  Such a time has now arrived for our Motherland when nothing is dearer than her service, when everything else is to be directed to that end.  If you will study, study for her sake; train yourselves body and mind and soul for her service. You will earn your living that you may live for her sake.  You will go abroad to foreign lands that you may bring back knowledge with which you may do service to her.  Work that she may prosper. Suffer that she may rejoice. All is contained in that one single advice. “1        

This is indeed a beautiful illustration of the spiritual patriotism of Sri Aurobindo.

In this talk I shall touch upon some aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s political philosophy and its relevance to modern India. It will not be possible to analyse in any detail the political philosophy of Sri Aurobindo in one article. I shall therefore just highlight some distinctive points of his philosophy which have immediate relevance today in the political situation of India and the world. The points that I am going to touch upon are:

  • His concept of the nation as a psychological entity
  • The unification of India and Pakistan.
  • The communal problem and more generally the conflict of religions
  • The concepts of Democracy and Socialism – its true meaning
  • The role of the State
  • The political system in India today with reference to Parliamentary       Democracy.
  1. The real and the political unit

One of the unique contributions of Sri Aurobindo to political thought is the distinction he makes between two types of collective units, the real unit and the political unit. In the modern world this concept is especially applicable to nations and other large groupings. The understanding of this concept is of great importance and has major political consequences. However, in this presentation, I shall illustrate this concept with the nation and the empire.

When we look at world history, we note that empires have existed from the most ancient times and in the words of Sri Aurobindo they have all been only political units and not real units. These empires or political units were created by force, in most cases by conquest and military force and in some cases by economic force. They exist, as political units and not real units; they have no life from within and owe their continuance to a force imposed on their constituent elements or else to a political convenience felt or acquiesced in by the constituents and favoured by the world outside.. If the political convenience of an empire of this kind ceases, if the constituent elements no longer acquiesce and are drawn more powerfully by a centrifugal force, if at the same time the world outside no longer favours the combination, then force alone remains as the one agent of an artificial unity

On the other hand, real units are formed and held together by a cultural, spiritual and psychological bond. It is this psychological force that is the cementing force and keeps the unit intact through all the most turbulent and difficult periods of their history. Even when they cannot convert this psychological unity into a political unity, the unit survives through these difficult periods of internal conflict and external aggression. The nation is such a unit. This truth of a real unity is so strong that even nations which never in the past realised an outward unification, to which Fate and circumstance and their own selves have been adverse, nations which have been full of centrifugal forces and easily overpowered by foreign intrusions, have yet always developed a centripetal force as well and arrived inevitably after however a long time at organised oneness. It is a distinct group-soul which is driven by inward necessity and uses outward circumstances to constitute for itself an organised body. This is exemplified typically in the history of India. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:

“And the most striking example in history is the evolution of India. In no other country have the centrifugal forces been so strong, numerous, complex, obstinate. The mere time taken by the evolution has been prodigious; the disastrous vicissitudes through which it has had to work itself out have been appalling. And yet through it all the inevitable tendency has worked constantly, pertinaciously, with the dull, obscure, indomitable, relentless obstinacy of Nature when she is opposed in her instinctive purposes by man, and finally, after a struggle enduring through millenniums, has triumphed. And, as usually happens when she is thus opposed by her own mental and human material, it is the most adverse circumstances that the subconscious worker has turned into her most successful instruments. The political history of India is the story of a succession of empires, indigenous and foreign, each of them destroyed by centrifugal forces, but each bringing the centripetal tendency nearer to its triumphant emergence. And it is a significant circumstance that the more foreign the rule, the greater has been its force for the unification of the subject people. This is always a sure sign that the essential nation-unit is already there and that there is an indissoluble national vitality necessitating the inevitable emergence of the organised nation. In this instance, we see that the conversion of the psychological unity on which nationhood is based into the external organised unity by which it is perfectly realised, has taken a period of more than two thousand years and is not yet complete.”2

And it must also be remembered that England, France, Germany, and modern Italy took each a thousand or two thousand years to become a well formed political unit.

We may thus say that the nation is a persistent psychological unit which Nature has been busy developing throughout the world in the most various forms and educating into physical and political unity. Political unity is not the essential factor; it may not yet be realised and yet the nation persists and moves inevitably towards its realisation; it may be destroyed and yet the nation persists and travails and suffers but refuses to be annihilated.

 

 

 

The Indian nation

The Indian nation has been such a psychological unit; it has been held together by a cultural and spiritual unity; as a result it has developed a distinct identity of its own and has a destiny which it has to fulfil. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:

“Each nation is a Shakti or power of the evolving spirit in humanity and lives by the principle, which it embodies. India is the Bharata Shakti, the living energy of a great spiritual conception, and fidelity to it is the very principle of her existence.  For by its virtue alone she has been one of the immortal nations; this alone has been the secret of her amazing persistence and perpetual force of survival and revival”. 3

Once we comprehend this properly, we will be in a position to understand the message that Sri Aurobindo gave on August 15 1947. For in that message he had spoken of the five dreams that had been the basis of his life, and one of the dreams was the unity of India and the annulment of partition.

This is what he wrote:

The first of these dreams was a revolutionary movement which would create a free and united India.  India today is free but she has not achieved unity. The old communal division into Hindus and Muslims seems now to have hardened into a permanent political division of the country.  It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled forever 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.  Let us hope  that  that  may come about naturally,  by an increasing recognition  of  the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by  the practice of common action and the creation of  means  for  that  purpose.   . . . 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. 4

The fundamental reason and justification for annulling partition and bring about a unity is that Pakistan is not a real unit; rather it is a political unit held together by the force of its Army and sustained from outside by some big powers to suit their political convenience.

It is the very same concept that has been reiterated by the Mother when she sent a message to Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, in 1965 during the Indo-Pak war. This is what she wrote: “It is for the sake and the triumph of truth that India is fighting and must fight until India and Pakistan have once more become One because that is the truth of their being”.5

This then is the first point in Sri Aurobindo’s political thought that there are nations which are real units and some others that are political units created by artificial methods and accidents of history; these units will inevitably disintegrate in due course of time.

  1. Religion and Secularism

I shall now move on to the second aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s political thinking with regard to religion, secularism and spirituality. Even though on the surface, they do not seem to be connected with political thought, it should be evident that a proper understanding of these terms is of great political importance especially in the modern world. For all the nations in the world are facing problems arising from the interpretations of secularism and religion. As examples, in the United States it is the problem of abortion and gay marriages, in France, it is the display of religious symbols and in India it has taken huge proportions that is disturbing the whole polity.

Since India is home to all the religions in the world, it will be a great boon and blessing to the world if India can find a harmonious solution to this vexing problem which the world is facing today. One of the major consequences of this religious conflict has been the partition of India in 1947.

The partition of India

It is evident that the partition of India was due to the inability of the Indian leadership to solve the communal problem and more particularly the Hindu-Muslim problem. It is also evident that this problem can only be solved when the Hindu-Muslim problem is solved. I shall not go into the historical details as to why and how the partition took place; it is no use in indulging in the blame game, rather it would be more useful to look into the future and see how the problem can be solved on a higher plane leading to stability in the political field and to a harmonious society.

As early as in 1906, immediately after the partition of Bengal, Sri Aurobindo had warned that this problem cannot be solved by political methods or by reservations; in this context he wrote: “The question of separate representation for the Mohammedan community is one of those momentous issues raised in haste by a statesman unable to appreciate the forces with which he is dealing, which bear fruit no man expected and least of all the ill-advised Frankenstein who was responsible for its creation. …. Our own attitude is clear. We will have no part or lot in reforms, which give no popular majority, no substantive control, no opportunity for Indian capacity and statesmanship, no seed for Indian democratic expansion. We will not for a moment accept separate electorates or separate representation, not because we are opposed to a large Mohammedan influence in popular assemblies when they come but because we will be no party to a distinction which recognizes Hindu and Mohammedan as permanently separate political units and thus precludes the growth of single and indivisible Indian nation. We oppose any such attempt at division whether it comes from an embarrassed Government seeking for political support or from an embittered Hindu community allowing the passions of the moment to obscure their vision of the future.”6

In another article, he suggested that we have to go deeper down in the heart and mind to find the solution to the problem. Here is what he wrote:

“Of one thing we may be certain, that Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be affected by political adjustments or Congress flatteries. It must be sought deeper down in the heart and in the mind, for where the causes of disunion are there the remedies must be sought. We shall do well in trying to solve the problem to remember that misunderstanding is the most fruitful cause of our differences, that love compels love and that strength conciliates the strong. We must strive to remove the causes of misunderstanding by a better mutual knowledge and sympathy; we must extend the unfaltering love of the patriot to our Mussulman brother, remembering always that in him too Narayana dwells and to him too our Mother has given a permanent place in her bosom; but we must cease to approach him falsely or flatter out of a selfish weakness and cowardice. We believe this to be the only practical way of dealing with the difficulty. As a political question the Hindu-Muslim problem does not interest us at all, as a national problem it is of supreme importance. We shall make it a main part of our work to place Mohammed and Islam in a new light before our readers to spread juster views of Mohammedan history and civilization, to appreciate the Musulman’s place in our national development and the means of harmonizing his communal life with our own, not ignoring the difficulties that stand in the way of the possibilities of brotherhood and mutual understanding. Intellectual sympathy can only draw together; the sympathy of the heart can alone unite. But the one is a good preparation for the other”.7

When we take a close look at these statements, the following points come out clearly. They are:

  • We must become Indians first and foremost and all religious or other affiliations are secondary.
  • Hindu-Muslim unity cannot be brought about by political means; it has to come by making a deep and sincere study of the religions which will lead to a greater understanding and harmony.
  • To fulfil this purpose, institutions could be set up which will study all the religions and bring about a deeper harmony among them. In fact this university could institute a chair for this very purpose. In any case the message is clear – we have ultimately to move from religion to spirituality.

Much later, in Pondicherry he wrote:

 “Each religion has helped mankind. Paganism increased in man the light of beauty, the largeness and height of his life, his aim at a many-sided perfection. Christianity gave him some vision of Divine love and charity, Buddhism has shown him a noble way to be wiser, gentler and purer; Judaism and Islam, how to be religiously faithful in action and zealously devoted to God; Hinduism has opened to him the largest and profoundest spiritual possibilities.  A great thing would be done if all these God-visions could embrace and cast themselves into each other; but intellectual dogma and cult-egoism stand in the way.

All religions have saved a number of souls, but none yet has been able to spiritualize mankind. For that there is needed not cult and creed, but a sustained and all comprehending effort at spiritual self-evolution.” 8

The message is clear, we have to go beyond narrow religion and graduate into spirituality.

  1. Democracy and Socialism

I shall now take up the great political ideals of the modern world. These ideals are Democracy and Socialism. These ideals are the driving forces in the modern world and all governments are committed to them in practice. As we are all well aware, the French Revolution threw up the great ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Sri Aurobindo wholly supported these ideals and regarded them as sign posts for the future political evolution of humanity.

It would be relevant and of great importance to see how Sri Aurobindo interpreted these ideals. He believed that Democracy was an ideal that gave respect and dignity to the individual and the reason was that he looked on the individual not merely as a body, a life and a mind but as a soul. Regarding the democratic ideal, he wrote: “there is this deeper truth which individualism has discovered, that the individual is not merely a social unit; his existence, his right and claim to live and grow are not founded solely on his social work and function. He is not merely a member of a human pack, hive or ant-hill; he is something in himself, a soul, a being, who has to fulfil his own individual truth and law as well as his natural or his assigned part in the truth and law of the existence. This is the basis of the democratic tendency of the world.”9

In the same way he believed in the ideal of Socialism which he interpreted as the trend towards equality. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: “The final aim of Nature in human life cannot be the exploitation of the many by the few or even of the few by the many, can never be the perfection of some at the cost of the abject submergence and ignorant subjection of the bulk of humanity; these can only be transient devices. Absolute equality is surely neither intended nor possible, just as absolute uniformity is both impossible and utterly undesirable; but a fundamental equality which will render the play of true superiority and difference inoffensive, is essential to any conceivable perfectibility of the human race.”

It is no longer possible that we should accept as an ideal any arrangement by which certain classes of society should arrogate development and full social fruition to themselves while assigning a bare and barren function of service alone to others. It is now fixed that social development and well-being mean the development and well-being of all the individuals in the society and not merely a flourishing of the community in the mass which resolves itself really into the splendour and power of one or two classes. This conception has been accepted in full by all progressive nations and is the basis of the present socialistic tendency of the world.”10

The question was how to bring about this equality. What were the means that Socialism adopted to bring about equality?

To eliminate poverty, not by the crude idea of equal distribution but by the holding of all property in common and its management through the organised State, to equalise opportunity and capacity as far as possible through universal education and training, again by means of the organised State, is the fundamental idea of modern Socialism. It implies an abrogation or at least a rigorous diminution of all individual liberty.11

A compromise between these two ideals seems to be the way most governments have taken.

Democratic Socialism still clings indeed to the nineteenth-century ideal of political freedom; it insists on the equal right of all in the State to choose, judge and change their own governors, but all other liberty it is ready to sacrifice to its own central idea.12

Sri Aurobindo says that these two ideas have a master potency and no reaction can eliminate them. They have become permanent features of the future growth of humanity. And to these two ideals has been added a third one, Communism.

Communism which was born as a result of the Russian Revolution has also greatly contributed to the political ideals of humanity. Regarding Communism, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “The communistic principle of society is intrinsically as superior to the individualistic as is brotherhood to jealousy and mutual slaughter; but all the practical schemes of Socialism invented in Europe are a yoke, a tyranny and a prison”.13

However, in actual practice these ideals have nowhere been able to do what they pretended or claimed to do. Yet despite these shortcomings in practice, they have certainly contributed to human society.

Democracy in actual practice

When we look at the practical results of democracy in practice, we see that it has not been able to give the individual the freedom and dignity that is the goal of democracy. As a matter of fact, the sole democratic elements in today’s polity are: public opinion, periodical elections and the power of the people to refuse re-election to those who have displeased it. Despite  all democratic professions, the government is really in the hands of the bourgeoisie, the professional and business men, the landholders,—where such a class still exists,—strengthened by the trade unions and the working-class; and unfortunately  these classes very soon assimilate themselves to the political temperament and ideas of the governing classes.

Socialism in practice

Similarly, when we look at the practice of Socialism, we see that it lays great stress on the organised State and puts complete power in the hands of the State. However, Sri Aurobindo has reservations about the State. This is what Sri Aurobindo says about the State. “Whatever may be the perfection of the organised State, the suppression or oppression of individual freedom by the will of the majority or of a minority would still be there as a cardinal defect vitiating its very principle. 14

Now Sri Aurobindo is of the view that neither of these two ideals, Democracy and Socialism can fulfil themselves unless they bring in the ideal of Fraternity, the third word of the French Revolution. And this brotherhood has to base itself not on mere association but on a deeper spiritual brotherhood and oneness. I shall deal with this later in the talk.

  1. The role of the State

As we have previously mentioned, Sri Aurobindo did not believe in the supremacy of the State. In fact, he believed that the State must not take too much power into itself. He was clear that the State had a limited role to play. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:

“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, 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 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.” 15

Similarly, in another reference to the role of the State, Sri Aurobindo has this to stay:

I have no faith in government controls, because I believe in a certain amount of freedom—freedom to find out things for oneself in one’s own way, even freedom to commit blunders. Nature leads us through various errors and mistakes; when Nature created the human being with all his possibilities for good and ill she knew very well what she was about. Freedom for experiment in human life is a great thing. Without the freedom to take risks and commit mistakes there can be no progress.”16

And finally in a warning regarding the complete take over of the economic life by the State, he says:

“It is better not to destroy the capitalist class as the Socialists want to: they are the source of national wealth. They should be encouraged to spend for the nation. Taxing is all right, but you must increase production, start new industries, and also raise the standard of living; without that if you increase the taxes there will be a state of depression.”17

  1. The political system in India

Lastly, we shall make a brief reference to the political system practiced in India at the present moment. The last few years and in particular the last few days have shown the political parties and the political system in a very poor light. The political system has become one of the greatest obstacles to the growth and development of India.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo wrote extensively about the renaissance taking place in India; he noted that it was particularly strong and vibrant in most of the fields of culture. The only exception was in the political field.

He remarked that this presented a serious danger to the soul of India. For a political Westernization of India would be followed by a social turn of the same kind and bring a cultural and spiritual death in its train. It is indispensable therefore that in the political field there has to be a true renaissance based on the genuine Indian political temperament and culture. One cannot ignore or minimize this danger as one sees that even today we are still hypnotized by the Western model in the field of politics, either by the Parliamentary type of democracy or by the Communist model.

It should be evident to all intelligent observers of Indian politics that the country has become very badly divided and this is the biggest obstacle to the development and growth of the Indian nation. The solution to this state of affairs lies in creating a national government, a government where the national interest is paramount, and the party interest must be relegated to a secondary position. India will have thus to find out its own political system. This needs a serious debate and consultation. The time has come to start this process.

In this article, I am suggesting some lines on which a debate can take place in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s political thought.

Sri Aurobindo wrote in the beginning of the twentieth century:

“Spirituality is India’s only politics…… I have no doubt we shall have to go through our Parliamentary period in order to get rid of the notion of Western democracy by seeing in practice how helpless it is to make nations blessed. India is passing really through the first stages of a sort of national Yoga”.18

In another context he said:

“Nowadays people want the modern type of democracy—the parliamentary form of government. The parliamentary system is doomed.

[In India] one should begin with the old Panchayat system in the villages and then work up to the top. The Panchayat system and the guilds are more representative and they have a living contact with people; they are part of the people’s ideas. On the contrary, the parliamentary system with local bodies—the municipal councils—is not workable: these councils have no living contact with the people; the councillors make only platform speeches and nobody knows what they do for three or four years; at the end they reshuffle and rearrange the whole thing, making their own pile during their period of power.”19

The solution lies in probably in the line of action as proposed in the following message..

In a message given by the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram to the Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi, in 1969, she wrote:

“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.”  20

It has become imperative that a serious discussion among political parties and intellectuals is started to end this divisive politics on the lines suggested above.

To conclude, I shall finish with a passage from Sri Aurobindo which outlines the future direction in which the national life and the political system must take.

“But though these aims are of great importance in their own field, they are not the central thing; they can only be secure when founded upon a change of the inner human nature and inner way of living; they are themselves of importance only as means for giving a greater scope and a better field for man’s development towards that change and, when it is once achieved, as an outward expression of the larger inward life. Freedom, equality, brotherhood are three godheads of the soul; they cannot be really achieved through the external machinery of society or by man so long as he lives only in the individual and the communal ego. When the ego claims liberty, it arrives at competitive individualism. When it asserts equality, it arrives first at strife, then at an attempt to ignore the variations of Nature, and, as the sole way of doing that successfully, it constructs an artificial and machine-made society. A society that pursues liberty as its ideal is unable to achieve equality; a society that aims at equality will be obliged to sacrifice liberty. For the ego to speak of fraternity is for it to speak of something contrary to its nature. All that it knows is association for the pursuit of common egoistic ends and the utmost that it can arrive at is a closer organisation for the equal distribution of labour, production, consumption and enjoyment.

Yet is brotherhood the real key to the triple gospel of the idea of humanity. The union of liberty and equality can only be achieved by the power of human brotherhood and it cannot be founded on anything else. But brotherhood exists only in the soul and by the soul; it can exist by nothing else. For this brotherhood is not a matter either of physical kinship or of vital association or of intellectual agreement. When the soul claims freedom, it is the freedom of its self-development, the self-development of the divine in man in all his being. When it claims equality, what it is claiming is that freedom equally for all and the recognition of the same soul, the same godhead in all human beings. When it strives for brotherhood, it is founding that equal freedom of self-development on a common aim, a common life, a unity of mind and feeling founded upon the recognition of this inner spiritual unity. These three things are in fact the nature of the soul; for freedom, equality, unity are the eternal attributes of the Spirit. It is the practical recognition of this truth, it is the awakening of the soul in man and the attempt to get him to live from his soul and not from his ego which is the inner meaning of religion, and it is that to which the religion of humanity also must arrive before it can fulfil itself in the life of the race.” 21

Kittu Reddy

 

References

  1. SABCL Volume 1 Bandemataram pp 516
  2. SABCL Volume 15, Social and Political Thought pp 288-289
  3. SABCL Volume 14 Foundations of Indian Culture pp 4
  4. SABCL Volume 26, On Himself pp401-402
  5. White Roses pp 279
  6. SABCL Volume 2 Karmayogin pp 245-246
  7. SABCL Volume 2 Karmayogin pp 24
  8. SABCL Volume 16 The Supramental Manifestation pp 394
  9. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 20
  10. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 269
  11. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 325
  12. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 325-326
  13. SABCL Volume 17 Thoughts and Aphorisms
  14. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 200
  15. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 283
  16. India’s Rebirth pp 205
  17. India’s Rebirth pp 212-213
  18. India’s Rebirth pp 18
  19. India’s Rebirth pp 213
  20. Message of the Mother to Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1969
  21. SABCL Volume 15 Social and Political Thought pp 546

This talk was given Talk at Jadavpur University on 26th March 2005

 

8 pictures to make you think

Churchill saw it coming. 

Read his comments at the end.

This should really make you think!

     IRAN  1970
cid:X.MA1.1415389975@aol.com

IRAN  2012
cid:X.MA2.1415389975@aol.com

AFGHANISTAN
cid:X.MA3.1415389975@aol.com

EGYPT (Cairo University) 1959
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EGYPT (Cairo University) 2012
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NETHERLANDS (Amsterdam) 1980
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NETHERLANDS (Amsterdam) 2012
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…And some people STILL do not see a reason to worry!

Winston Churchill 1899. “Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”===============================================================================================
cid:X.MA8.1415711955@aol.com

This is amazing. Even more amazing is that this hasn’t been published long before now.
CHURCHILL ON ISLAM Unbelievable, but the speech below was written in 1899.
(Check Wikipedia – The River War). The attached short speech from Winston Churchill, was delivered
by him in 1899 when he was a young soldier and journalist. It probably sets out the current views of many,
but expresses in the wonderful Churchillian turn of phrase and use of the English language, of which he was a past master. Sir Winston Churchill was, without doubt, one of the greatest men of the late 19th and 20th centuries. He was a brave young soldier, a brilliant journalist, an extraordinary politician and statesman, a great war leader and British Prime Minister, to whom the Western world must be forever in his debt.


He was a prophet in his own time. He died on 24th January 1965, at the grand old age of 90 and,
after a lifetime of service to his country, was accorded a State funeral. HERE IS THE SPEECH:
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy,
which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.
The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture,
sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the
Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement,
the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to
some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction
of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may
show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.
No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant
and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step;
and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had
vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”
Sir Winston Churchill; (Source: The River War, first edition, Vol II, pages 248-250 London).
Churchill saw it coming.

Extract from Role of South India in the Freedom Movement- Sri Aurobindo on Chidambaram

Final document of book after np

Here is an extract from an article written in the Bandemataram by Sri Aurobindo on the strike in Tuticorin.

For passive resistance to succeed unity, perseverance and thoroughness are the first requisites. Because this unity, perseverance and thoroughness existed in Tuticorin, the great battle fought over the Coral Mill has ended in a great and indeed absolutely sweeping victory for the people. Every claim made by the strikers has been conceded and British capital has had to submit to the humiliation of an unconditional surrender. Nationalism may well take pride in the gallant leaders who have by their cool and unflinching courage brought about this splendid vindication of Nationalist teaching.When men like Chidambaram, Padmanabha and Shiva are ready to undergo exile or imprisonment so that a handful of mill coolies may get justice and easier conditions of livelihood, a bond has been created between the educated class and the masses which is the first great step towards Swaraj.5

In another article Sri Aurobindo paid tribute to Chidambaram:

Well Done, Chidambaram! A true feeling of comradeship is the salt of political life; it binds men together and is the cement of all associated action. When a political leader is prepared to suffer for the sake of his followers, when a man, famous and adored by the public, is ready to remain in jail rather than leave his friends and fellow-workers behind, it is a sign that political life in India is becoming a reality. Srijut Chidambaram Pillai has shown throughout the Tuticorin affair a loftiness of character, a practical energy united with high moral idealism which show that he is a true Nationalist. His refusal to accept release on bail if his fellowworkers were left behind, is one more count in the reckoning. Nationalism is or ought to be not merely a political creed but a religious aspiration and a moral attitude. Its business is to build up Indian character by educating it to heroic self-sacrifice and magnificent ambitions, to restore the tone of nobility which it has lost and bring back the ideals of the ancient Aryan gentleman. The qualities of courage, frankness, love and justice are the stuff of which a Nationalist should be made. All honour to Chidambaram Pillai for having shown us the first complete example of an Aryan reborn, and all honour to Madras which has produced such a man.6

Ghar Wapsi: Counterattack from Hinduism – Virendra Parekh

Bharata Bharati

Virendra Parekh“Like a slow but deadly poison, conversions are sapping the lifeblood of Hinduism. However great and noble Hinduism may be, if there are no Hindus who practice it, it will be consigned to the museums and monuments like several other religions of the ancient world. Long before that Hindus will have disintegrated into an amorphous mass of humanity and India as an old civilisation will have disappeared.” – Virendra Parekh

Hindu activist raising the Bhagwa Dwaj over a Cross.One thing is common to mullahs, missionaries and Marxists: when they are given a dose of their own medicine, they cry foul. If you join (or are made to join) their fold, you are exercising your basic right to freedom of thought, belief and conscience. If you leave their fold and return to your roots, you are reviled as an apostate or renegade. If feasible, appropriate penalty will be visited upon you. Simultaneously, the event is denounced as an assault on…

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