Sri Aurobindo and the Crisis of Contemporary Culture Sachidananda Mohanty Ritam Volume 4 Issue 2 February 2007 A Journal of Material and Spiritual Researches in Auroville: Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research.
Sri Aurobindo’s place in the intellectual history of modern India is yet to be determined. The relevance of his cultural and political vision remains unassessed. His critics oppose him by not reading his vast body of writings; and his followers have made a cult out of him. The sage of Pondicherry is more than a poet and a mystic philosopher. In this essay, I shall try and show the relevance of Sri Aurobindo’s political vision to the crisis of contemporary culture. There are six major areas where we see the crisis of contemporary culture: 1. The tyranny of the State Idea.
2. The crisis of the Nation State.
3. The conflict over language and ethnicity.
4. The challenges of the emerging internationalism.
5. The problem of identity politics in a multicultural society
6. The question of self-determination.
Each of these is related to the other, and yet separately, each poses a challenge to our thinking. What insights does Sri Aurobindo offer for the resolution of these crises? The threat of a looming disaster is what seems to define the human condition today. Sri Aurobindo captures aptly this crisis in The Life Divine:
At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way… Man has created a system of civilization, which has become too big for his limited mental capacity… a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and its appetites.1
What, then are the manifestations of this evolutionary crisis in the contemporary world? If we define culture as the entire gamut of our life, and not just a creative expression of a select elite, then we will notice the crisis of contemporary culture in the six areas outlined...3:46 PM