Monday, February 13, 2012

Revivify India’s glorious past

Why a Frenchman built a Bhavani & Shivaji museum - Analysis - DNA - COLUMNS  - Francois Gautier Monday, February 13, 2012
The first phase of FACT’s ( Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History has been inaugurated by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Mrs Ajit Pawar and Nitin Gadkari. The exquisite Bhavani Bharat temple is one of the only two temples in India dedicated to Mother India (the other is in Haridwar) which Sri Aurobindo and Lokmanya Tilak wanted to build in Maharashtra 100 years ago. The VIPs then inaugurated three exhibitions: a miniature painting exhibition on the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj; an exhibition on Hindu Tolerance Throughout the Ages; and another exhibition that proves scientifically that the famous Aryan invasion never actually happened.
Why does a Frenchman build a Bhavani Bharti temple and museum? I am proud to say I owe a debt to India, because this country has granted me so much, spiritually, professionally and even sentimentally. I was a young boy of 19, living in Paris, the city of my birth, when I heard that a caravan of cars was driving from Paris to Pondicherry. I had never thought about India, and had no interest in spirituality, but something in me pushed me to go. It took us six weeks to cross 10 countries and after many adventures, we reached Delhi.
Right from my first night here, I felt I had come home and that India was a land of vast knowledge, a truth that eludes most westerners, because some of the paradox of the still apparent poverty and filth that blinds them. I had this feeling of being home, of Mother India, in the most unlikely places, even in Srinagar. I covered Kashmir as a journalist for the largest French political daily during the worst period of unrest, from the late eighties till the Kargil War. — The author is the editor in chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and the author of The Guru of Joy. FACT - India was started in 2003 by Francois Gautier, a French journalist, writer & historian who has been covering India and South Asia for the last 35 years. "Currently, we are displaying exhibitions based on themes revolving around Shivaji Maharaj, Hindu tolerance throughout the ages, Aryan invasion along with 10 rotating exhibitions," says Gautier.

In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for, founder Geetanjali J B tells us more about how her aim in setting up Helios Books is twofold: to publish high-quality books in various genres and to share the joy while doing so! Geetanjali J.B was the finalist of British Council’s Young Publishing Entrepreneur Awards, 2011. To know more about the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards, click here. Follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards (YCE) on Facebook Gitanjali, tell us about your Publishing Firm Helios Books. What is your background like and what is the story behind starting up HB? 
I am the founder and publisher of Helios Books, an English-language independent publishing firm set up in Chennai in 2009. After a brilliant start in academics (a topper in school, a gold-medalist in college and amongst the top ten in MBA from the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar), I worked in management consultancies and multinational firms in the Indian corporate sector for 8 years, including a one-year stint in Copenhagen as the Head of European Operations for a software company. I then worked in our family business of setting up power plants for 6 years, a business I had established with my husband. Thereafter, I chartered out on my own in the field of publishing, thus fulfilling a long-standing dream.
To me, Helios Books is a labour of love. We aspire to bring out beautiful books in various genres, which are uplifting, progressive, inspiring and contribute to nation building. Helios Books was founded to publish those books that we wanted to read but could not find in bookstores! The vision of Helios Books, over and above bringing out quality books in various genres, is to showcase the best of India and its forgotten glory and other universal human values to the world.
Indian history was written by colonizers and when you read it in school, it doesn’t make you proud of being an Indian. India seems to be always on the receiving end. Its achievements are always trivialized and its failures exaggerated. But when one reads Sri Aurobindo’s “Foundations of Indian Culture”, one is introduced to India, as it were. One can see Her greatness in literature, arts, architecture, sculpture, dance, music and politics. Our endeavour in bringing out books in History is to revivify India’s glorious past and aim to amend many of the oversights and exclusions associated with traditional historical accounts. And in our category of Historical Fiction we plan to explore some of the lesser-known but important aspects of Indian history in an interesting way.
The hallmark of our non-fiction is the lucid presentation of original research. Our projects in this genre include War Heroes of India that aims at celebrating the spirit of heroism and courage in India. Another area we focus on is the recovery of ancient Indian scriptures and their relevance to the modern world. Our market differentiators are our beautifully produced, high quality of books based on original research.
Similarly we plan to sell the War Heroes book in bulk to the Indian Army and so on. The target audiences for the republication of the first edition of Savitri were devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo across India. This strategy has helps us reach target audiences directly without wasting time and money in mass advertisement and distribution. 

Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo were the two towering figures of the Indian renaissance who contributed most to the regeneration of the Indian mindscape and the consequent reflowering of the Indian culture... What did Sri Aurobindo mean when he talked of India’s destiny and India’s religion? He himself provided the answer... Such views, propagated through his extensive writings, thrilled a good part of the nation and created new confidence, new urges and a new sense of mission. They also made the Western world take greater interest in India and look at her with greater respect.
Sri Aurobindo wanted Poorna Swaraj, complete freedom, for India. This, he thought, was absolutely necessary not only for the well-being of the country but also for the well-being of the rest of the world. She alone could “free the world from its enslavement to materialism and to point out the way towards a dynamic integration of Spirit and Matter and to make life perfect with Divine Perfection”.
Unfortunately, only a few strands of the great movement for the cultural regeneration of India are visible now. Today, she is without any great inspiration, without any elevating philosophy which could serve as a guiding star for activities in various walks of life. The writer is a former Governor of J&K and a former Union minister.

The genius of Eknathji Ranade located the holistic concept of yoga, another name for spirituality in the words of Swami Vivekananda 'Each Soul is potentially Divine,' and adopted it as the basis of Vivekananda Kendra (VK). He could see the vision of Sri Aurobindo enunciating Integral yoga as a furthering depth of Swamiji's thoughts on yoga. Eknathji trained in the organizational skills and powered by a patriotic favor with the holistic vision of Hindu nation enunciated a century ago by Swami Vivekananda, in tune with the emerging trends of popularity of yoga gave a direction to the Kendra in his first pamphlet 'Yoga, the core of Vivekananda Kendra'.

Review on Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry by Nishi Sharma Contemporary Literary Review: India (CLRI) is primarily an online literary journal in English SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012
Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry is a distinctive work of art by Jitendra Sharma, based on Sri Aurobindo’s phenomenal poetic endeavor. It is a brilliant attempt to discover the concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s poetry. This book brings out Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s integral philosophy of Man and his existence in this universe—and beyond it. Man is everywhere in his poetry with minute projections, innumerable possibilities and natural tendencies towards self-exceeding. He sees Man through the quintessential prism and finds him as: ‘the increasing God’, ‘self-liberating person’, ‘the eternal portion of the Divine’, ‘a God in the making’, ‘a portion of the Divine Consciousness and Essence’ and ‘intermediate creature between animal and the Divine’.
The author, Jitendra Sharma, focuses light on the concepts of evolution, consciousness and transformation of Man and his mind which are intertwined in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry is a tribute to the greatest soul and an insightful gift to Sri Aurobindo’s followers.
Author’s Bio: Dr. Jitendra Sharma obtained the Master's Degree in French from Karnatak University Dharwar and had M.Phil. in French from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. He has also studied in the Stendhal University of Grenoble in France. His literary articles have appeared in various journals and he has participated in more than 80 national/international seminars, workshops and conferences. He heads the Department of French at St. Joseph's College, Devagiri, Calicut (Kerala) where he tries to implement Sri Aurobindo's education methodology in his teaching profession.

Thill - February 6th, 2012 on 3:55 am I was a “fan” of Wilber’s writings during my days as a doctoral student in Canada working on my dissertation, in a predominantly analytically-oriented philosophy department, on Aurobindo. But I can hardly bring myself to read either of them these days and I don’t feel I am missing anything important! LOL Thill - February 6th, 2012 on 7:17 pm Aurobindo wrote that he was a practitioner of “mystic empiricism”, an undertaking, he believed, was empirical in just the way scientific inquiry is empirical! But then Aurobindo never explained, although he wrote several big books, the actual process by means of which he allegedly arrived at knowledge of “occult worlds, entities, and forces”, not to mention the modus operandi of harnessing them, e.g., “Yogic force”, to allegedly cure illnesses, influence world events, etc.

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