For some time, I have seen Wilber’s theory as an attempt to synthesize Ramana and Zen on the one hand with Aurobindo on the other. Of course, readers can differ on whether or not his synthesis is successful. Since Aurobindo sees his own theory as coming from advaita, this tension (between absolute unity and earthly reality) is already in Aurobindo.
Personally, I have been thinking about Ramakrishna as the origin of most of 20th century Indian thought. (remember that Vivekananda appeared to Aurobindo in Alipore jail. also, look up ‘Ramakrishna’ in Aurobindo’s 3 vol. letters on yoga. I will quote the pertinent passage here when I can.)
Ramakrishna’s main accomplishment was to synthesize vedanta with tantra. Ramakrishna scholarship is full of deep problems, most obviously the division between the Ramakrishna Mission’s puritan expurgated reading of RK and Jeffrey Kripal’s perhaps excessively sexualized reading of him. but I am convinced that Aurobindo’s unique genius owes something, and perhaps quite a bit, to the 19th century illiterate Bengali genius.
It’s actually more complicated than that. Kripal says that Ramakrishna gave vedantic, non-sexual teachings to his monastic students, including Vivekananda, who were teenage boys, and more tantric teachings to his married “householder” students. The Ramakrishna Mission, which descends from the monstic disciples, thus perpetuates the vedantic aspect of RK’s teachings which is what was taught to their predecessors. Kripal has tried to resurrect the tantric RK.
This, of course, horrified the Ramakrishna Mission and many Bengalis (Indian sexual mores being rather Victorian) who don’t want RK seen as a pervert despite the fact that there is some indication in the Bengali text that RK had some non-normative sexual desires. I’m convinced that RK’s tantra has been suppressed, especially in translation, since the beginning.
And where has Sri Aurobindo (or the Mother) said that his work is dependent on the Vedanta? His interpreting the Veda, the Vedanta and the Gita does not make his work dependent on these. Where possible, he has also coined a new language. The Life Divine does not mention avatar or the sacrifice of the Purusha (as far as I know). If other works do, we must take it that these concepts are handy to express what is important to his experience and would have taken many more volumes of words otherwise.
Again, the essence of “incarnation” as understood in Christianity does not find any representation in the Indic idea of avatarhood. But Sri Aurobindo sees some truth in the idea and brings it out in Savitri. It is deatable whether his work can be called Vedantic at all (particularly if one was to take the Mother’s formulation of it). November 27th, 2006 at 10:06 pm
alan kazlev Says: November 28th, 2006 at 6:30 am Open Integral
Goethean, thanks for the clarification re the two interpretations of Ramakrishna.
From the SCIY article quoted by Tusar:
[The Life Divine does not mention avatar]
I didn’t realise this. But I looked up the index of my copy and to my astonishment the word “avatar” isn’t listed. But reference to the concept of avatar is found in talks and in letters to devotees. Although very interesting that Sri Aurobindo chose not to speak of this in LD. Perhaps he was only talking to his disciples and devotees with language and concepts they would understand, but which are not relevant to his own mighty synthesis.
An interesting story about a close disciple of Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar Roy. Dilip was going through a dry period. He was trying very hard but no matter how long he meditated he felt he wasn’t making much progress. With the permission of his spiritual master Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar Roy took a visit to Arunachala to visit the Ashram of Ramana Maharshi. Here he felt a tremendous peace in his meditation, revitalised he went back to the Sri Aurobindo ashram very grateful for the experience. Dilip Kumar Roy was a great seeker who was one of the most beautiful and soulful singers of devotional music. Open Integral