Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sujata Nahar remembered on birth anniversary

From overman foundation date 15 December 2010 15:51 subject From Overman Foundation: Memorial Service on Sujata Nahar
Dear Friends,
A Memorial Service dedicated to the loving memory of Sujata Nahar (1925-2007), one of the most devoted and faithful disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was held on Sunday, 12 December 2010, at the Head Office of Overman Foundation to commemorate the 85th Birth Anniversary of the great sadhika and former inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who was also one of the co-founders of Mira Aditi Centre and author of the well-known series on the Mother’s life titled Mother’s Chronicles.
To read the report of the ceremony please click on the following link:
 With warm regards, Anurag Banerjee
Chairman, Overman Foundation.

[A Vision of Sujata Nahar « The Mother's Lasso 24 Nov 2009 ... Translator's note: In 1995, Sujata Nahar's younger sisters Sumitra and Suprabha had gone to visit her at her residence in Kotagiri. ...
Nirmal Singh Nahar on Satprem and Sujata « The Mother's Lasso 24 Oct 2010 ... Born on 28 July 1922, he is the fourth son of Prithwi Singh Nahar and elder brother of Sujata Nahar. He received his early education at ...
Prithwi Singh Nahar « The Mother's Lasso 2 Jul 2009 ... Sujata Nahar writes about her years at Shantiniketan: “From the end of .....Sujata Nahar writes: “It must have been sometime in 1933 that I ...]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

If you neither cling to the divine nor surrender to the Divine

From Sunil date 12 December 2010 14:53 subject For posting
“There are two paths of yoga, (…) You take it in with every breath.”

The baby cat or the baby monkey method is used as an example to describe one’s approach towards the Divine in the Sadhana. According to one’s personal nature the individual approaches the Divine and may be a baby cat or a baby monkey or may vary depending on how the movement of the consciousness is working. The psychic approach of the cat where one surrenders completely to the Divine and has no personal interference is considered to produce results faster than the monkey approach where one does not surrender or rely totally on the Divine but clings to the divine and in this clinging is led by the Divine.
But if you neither cling to the divine nor surrender to the Divine, you are not doing Sadhana and cannot claim any fruit of the Sadhana. What you are is an insignificant grain in the vast universe, a small particle in the flow of the Nature. Yoga is not done without doing, and you don’t qualify for either path of the Yoga automatically. As long as we live in the ordinary nature the personal effort of the individual remains indispensable. Sunil

Aurobindo Ghose brooks little dissent

“If hatred is demoralizing, it is also stimulating,” writes Aurobindo Ghose in one of his early essay titled On Nationalism after returning to India from England in 1893. This pithy, striking statement possibly sums up the moral basis of violence as a stimulus among the swadeshi revolutionaries. In order to get rid of the torpor and inertia that one associates with the guna of tamas, political hatred must be brought into the fore as a necessary form of vitalist rajas. It is a deeply awe-inspiring trope in the revolutionary armory that justifies an actual, physical, political action. Aurobindo Ghose was not exempt from joyously celebrating such a moment.
On the other hand, the same man also clearly eschews such vitalist tendencies while giving shape to his political thought. In The Human Cycle, for instance, Aurobindo considers Nietzsche and Bergson’s critique of the Cartesian rational subject founded on the ideas of will-to live and intuition as inadequate, since it builds up on “…crude vitalistic notions of blood, race, life-room…” It is a futurist spiritual anarchism that interests Ghose, not the grossness of gore and slime.
A popular way to account for such a disjunction is to highlight Aurobindo’s one-year stint in the prison (particularly the time spent in solitary confinement) and the dramatic trial between May 1908- May 1909 and mark that experience as the transformative catalyst to the spiritual turn. Besides opting for easy pyschologization, such explanations routinely help strengthen the charismatic myth around the revolutionary as a selfless ascetic. Binoy Sarkar, a deeply philosophic revolutionary close to Aurobindo says “No sooner does Aurobindo gets implicated in the Alipore Conspiracy Case in 1908, he becomes an instant political winner. Immediately people begin relating everything since 1905 with Aurobindo’s name. Even Bipin Pal’s considerable reputation drowned in this din. The secret philosophy to Aurobindo’s fame is the bomb. Without the bomb, he would merely remain a selfless nationalist savant—would never be worshipped as a renowned Indian hero. And in that case, I doubt whether people would acclaim his philosophy as much as they do today.” (Binoy Sarkar er Boithoke, translation mine)
Aurobindo himself writes about his introspective moments in the prison: readings of the Gita and Upanishads, practicing yoga, hearing and feeling Vivekananda and seeing Krishna in his meditation and even levitating. It could be that going through intense physical pain and discomfort, for the middle-class revolutionary, prison also becomes a site for controlling and denying his physical, animal desires, leading to a glorification of austere practices and speculative introspection. Besides, there is also an urge to read the nation symbolically as a vast prison-house. That would mitigate the pain of the actual confinement by seeing the prison as an honest place to be. In Tales of Prison Life, Aurobindo traverses further: “This state of imprisonment is the perennial condition of man,” he remarks, but goes on to highlight that freedom for human race can be achieved through “Restraint, self-torture, indifference, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Asceticism, Vedanta, Buddhism, Advaita, the doctrine of Maya, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Gita, the paths of knowledge, Devotion, and Action—the paths are many, the goal is the same. The aim is always—victory over the body, getting rid of the domination of the physical, the freedom of the inner life.” It is worth noting that, as befits a chiliast, Ghose never denies action. Indeed, a political Vedantist, much like the godly Puritan, detests a fugitive and cloistered virtue. Hence, it is not surprising when Ghose says “ Thanks to my experience of these twelve months I have been able to return to the world of action with tenfold hope, with a fixed notion about Indian superiority…”
What is at the source of such a conflict between immanent and transcendent anarchism, between a joyous celebration of hostility and a quest for surpassing tranquility?
It is quite clear that Aurobindo not only helped organize secret societies in Bengal but also around 1902, established contacts with extremists in Maharashtra. He was more interested, it appears, for a grand revolutionary moment than piecemeal acts of terror. It was a question of strategy for him rather than tactics. In a retrospective talk much later, for instance, he remarks: “My idea was an open armed revolution in the whole of India. What they did at that time was very childish, e.g. beating magistrates and so on. Later it turned into terrorism and dacoities etc. which were not at all my idea or intention.” (Evening Talks). Ghose, however, never objected to his brother and other associates involved in everyday terrorist activities. In this connection, Heehs illuminatingly finds Ghose’s “…laissez-faire attitude towards the development of terrorism…” to be related to something deeper in his personality.
One entry point might be his brother Barin’s remark that “Aurobindo himself was not yet free from strong and passionate vital urges; he was himself attached violently to his mission of India’s political deliverance brought about in this way…” It is quite obvious that during the first decade of the twentieth century Aurobindo is deeply invested in actively resisting the foreign yoke in an organized fashion. He refers time and again to self-development through “…rajasakti, organized political strength, commanding, and whenever necessary compelling general allegiance and obedience” (On Nationalism). The ideas of political will formation is deeply organicist in a physical sense at this stage in his writings.
Ghose was expectedly hostile to the economistic aspects in Marx, but may have agreed with the first of the Theses on Feuerbach had he had access to it at that point of his life. There is a pattern in the kind of influences that the revolutionary terrorists suffered during this time. Among the foreign influences both historical and philosophical ones stand out. The secret societies are modeled on the Carbonari and Mazzini’s Young Italy Society. Indeed the Risorgimento and Irish Home Rule prove to be important social models for tackling the British actively in India. But philosophically, social Darwinism, Bergsonian vitalism, Nietzsche’s will-to-power and eternal return, Russian nihilism and varieties of anarchism prove to be remarkably influential, even if sometimes the ideas do not fully trickle down to individual nationalists.
The working class in much of Southern Europe after the conflict between Marx and Bakunin followed the latter’s dictum of spontaneity and direct action as fundamental to political praxis. In France especially, the ideas of Reclus, Malatesta and Kropotkin led to anarchist syndicalism. A key figure in this context is Henri Bergson. The radicals often transformed his concepts of duration, memory, intuition and that of élan vital, the unanalyzable vital impulse, the hidden psychic flow, into a power of the irrational supposedly strong enough to destabilize positions of authority.
Absolute knowledge for Bergson can come through an intuitive grasp of things and can only be expressed through images and evocative symbols. At the heart of Bergson’s philosophy is a project to master matter through a notion of duration or mind that is squeezed into a contracted point. At that point of time-space contraction (the point of absolute perfection of the Platonic One-Whole), all the levels of expansion (détente) and contraction coexist in a single Time and form a totality. It is only through intuition that one can recover form and matter at such a juncture.
The other component in this monist world-view is the notion of élan vital whereby matter and duration gets differentiated through internal explosive force and branches themselves out as life force. Looked from the other side, this élan vital or life force, in its very differentiation, separates into two movements, one of relaxation that descends into matter and the other of tension that ascends into duration. This is what evolution actually strives for: actualization of creation through differentiation. In our times, Gilles Deleuze explains it beautifully as “…actualization, differentiation, are a genuine creation. The Whole must create the divergent lines according to which it is actualized and the dissimilar means that it utilizes on each line.” (Bergsonism)
It is then no surprise to see that during his early revolutionary days, Aurobindo is precisely trying to imagine the political in such sensuous but highly idealized terms.
The idea of spontaneous violence, for instance, is rife in his early pieces. At times, Ghose is purely apocalyptic. In an article written for Bande Mataram on March 5, 1908, titled Swaraj and the Coming Anarchy, he is deeply anticipatory and certain of the second coming of Vishnu as anarchic force: “Anarchy will come. This peaceful and inert nation is going to be rudely awakened from a century of passivity and flung into a world-shaking turmoil out of which it will come transformed, strengthened and purified.”
In Bourgeois and the Samurai another unpublished article during his lifetime, Aurobindo contrasts the ‘outworn and effete’ bourgeois class in India with the Japanese prototype of the Samurai, which is characterized according to Ghose, by the faculties of self-sacrifice, courage and high aspiration. Once again the chiliastic call made for the rise of the saints is evocative and exact: “…a call for men who will dare to do impossibilities, the men of extremes, the men of faith, the prophets, the martyrs, the crusaders, the …rebel, the desperate adventurers and reckless doers, the initiators of revolutions. It is the rebirth in India of the Kshatriya, the Samurai.” (On Nationalism) There is deep vital energy that runs through such early pieces, frothing with frenzy and wrath against all forms of moderation. The language itself is verbose and excessive. This excess gets transformed into a moment of violence through a vatic serialization of valorous heroes from India’s pre-colonial past. The whole gamut of the ascetic and resistant prototypes from the Hindu mythological imagination is brought into the picture, caring little for their sometimes diametrically opposed ethical positions in the collective consciousness—Harishchandra, Buddha, Shiva and Karna are placed alongside Duryodhana, who in turn is shares stage with Sita and Savitri. In what can only be designated as a riot of high idealism, the renunciating ascetic is married to the resistant and rajasic Kshatriya hero.
Actually, this move of hitching the everyday cults with high monist philosophy is a distinctive maneuver in extremist literature. A typical instance is the fusion of the sakta imagery with the tenets of advaita. In practice, sensuous dualism was deemed compatible with Advaita, working finally towards a unified oneness of theatman/brahman. Quite a few scholars have argued that Neo-Vedanta movement in the nineteenth-century is less indebted to Sankara and more to indigenous tantric traditions. Sometimes, the uninvolved Brahman of Sankara’s system is replaced by a more truly monistic metaphysics in which Brahman is an active and evolutionary spirit or force of which all things and beings are manifestations.
It is in this context that the devotional invocation of the cult of mother goddess (Kali or Annapurna), otherwise an accessible figure within the idiomatic realm of popular consciousness, could be transformed into a wrathful icon symbolizing power and effortlessly blended with the monist philosophy of advaita. The paradigmatic pamphlet of Aurobindo in this respect is of course Bhawani Mandir, written shortly before August 1905. The idea of a temple to Bhawani, the goddess and an order of political sannyasins was that of Ghose’s brother Barindra Kumar. Though the temple was never constructed, the pamphlet proved to be of a considerable influence on the revolutionary movement.
The Bergsonian rajasik moment comes early through the enunciation of concept of the Infinite Energy, which turns the wheels of the eternal revolution.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Matter’s Trance, Sleep and Waking

The purpose of this article is to correct some misinterpretations in the Lives of Sri Aurobindo (referred to as LOSA hereafter) regarding the Mother Mirra Alfassa's trip to Japan. We find the following descriptions in LOSA ... 
But Heehs does the reverse; he presents the spiritual truth and counters it with the materialistic view, so that he ends up downplaying Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and criticising his works in a hostile manner for the sake of gaining sympathy from the materialist. Not that he does not appreciate or present the spiritual view of Sri Aurobindo, but he tilts the final balance of negative and positive statements against him.
Aurobindo's ability to include such 'Western' values into his philosophy is true to the Indian tradition which throughout history has made possible the inclusion of widely varying ideas. Few places in the world have fostered such ...
'When the Mother saw that I was protesting so strongly about placing Sri Aurobindo's body in the Samadhi, She took me by the hand and led me to His body, then asked me if I could still see the golden light that had been there all these ...
From Joy Roy Choudhury to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 3 December 2010 22:57 subject On the Eve of 5th Dec, 2010
Dear Shri Mohapatra,
On the eve of 5th Dec, 2010, I am presenting a small art-exhibit for online viewers who are followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The title is: Introspection on the Lines of Savitri: An Exhibition of Symbols of Matter’s Trance, Sleep and Waking
The paintings are done by Samij Datta and they are 1. Midnight-Cow; 2. Patience; 3. Belief; 4. Surrender and 5. Thy Prayer. And I have put a little introduction to it - can be viewed at:
Regards Joy

Reminiscences of Dr. Nirodbaran, Udar Pinto and Dr. Prabhat Sanyal

From overman foundation date 9 December 2010 16:24 subject From Overman Foundation: Reminiscences and photographs of Sri Aurobindo’s last journey
Dear Friends,
On 9 December 1950, Sri Aurobindo’s physical sheath was put to rest in the Samadhi vault. We take this opportunity of sharing with you the reminiscences of Nirodbaran and Udar Pinto and some photographs of Sri Aurobindo’s last journey. To read the reminiscences and view the photographs, please click on the following link:

From overman foundation date 7 December 2010 12:25 subject From Overman Foundation: A Brief Description of 5th-9th December 1950 and some more photographs of Sri Aurobindo's Mahasamadhi
Dear Friends,
From 5th December to 9th December 1950, Sri Aurobindo’s physical sheath was kept in state for public darshan.  We take this opportunity of sharing with you the recollections of Dr. Nirodbaran and Udar Pinto of these four days and some more photographs of Sri Aurobindo's Mahasamadhi. To read the recollections and view the photographs, please click on the following link: 
With warm regards, Anurag Banerjee
 Chairman, Overman Foundation.

From overman foundation date 5 December 2010 16:58 subject From Overman Foundation: Reminiscences and Photographs of Sri Aurobindo's Mahasamadhi
Dear Friends,
Sixty years ago on 5 December 1950 at 1.26 a.m., Sri Aurobindo had left His physical body. We take this opportunity of sharing with you the reminiscences of Dr. Nirodbaran, Udar Pinto and Dr. Prabhat Sanyal about the last day and hours of Sri Aurobindo’s earthly life as well as some photographs of the His Mahasamadhi. To read the reminiscences and view the photographs, please click on the following link: 

From overman foundation date 29 November 2010 12:11 subject From Overman Foundation: Memorial Service on Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar
Dear Friends,
A Memorial Service dedicated to the loving memory of Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar (1903-2006), known in the Aurobindonian community across the globe as Sri Aurobindo’s scribe and renowned for his books like Talks with Sri AurobindoCorrespondence with Sri Aurobindo,Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo and Memorable Contacts with the Mother to name a few was held on Thursday, 18 November 2010, at the Head Office of Overman Foundation to commemorate the 107th Birth Anniversary of the great sadhak and inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. To read the report of the ceremony, please click on the following link:
Chairman, Overman Foundation.

From overman foundation date 24 November 2010 12:50 subject From Overman Foundation: Reminiscences of 24 November 1926
Dear Friends,
24 November is celebrated in the Aurobindonian community as the ‘Siddhi Day’. It was on this day in the year 1926 that the descent of Krishna, that is, the Overmind Consciousness, took place in Matter, that is, Sri Aurobindo’s body. 
Among the 24 inmates who were present in the Ashram when the descent occurred, seven of them have left behind their precious reminiscences of that special day. 
On this occasion, we take the opportunity to share with you all five of those reminiscences as well the Mother’s. To read the reminiscences, please click on the following link:
With warm regards, Anurag Banerjee
Chairman, Overman Foundation.