Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SAES is now starting its own teacher education institute

Within just 46 days of having been a mute witness to the strangulation of Mirambika on April 14th, 2015 by Pranjal Jauhar, on May 30th, 2015, after having signed on and submitted papers and affidavits before the AICTE declaring that no school exists / shall exist in the Mirambika building, accepting that no other courses will run alongside the AICTE approved courses from there and while continuing to defend the proposed engineering college in public, the then Secretary and present Chairman of SAES, Dr. Ramesh Bijlani, posted the following article on his blog: 
For ease of reference, the said article is reproduced below with our questions and comments in bold italics within brackets.
One of the welcome changes that the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) has finally introduced is to increase the duration of the B.Ed. course from one year to two. The longer duration is necessary, but not sufficient, to bring about a meaningful change in the teacher education courses. The material for the necessary changes is available in plenty with the pockets of excellence existing in the country. But these pockets have not been able to make a dent on mainstream school education because teachers who can duplicate these pockets are too few to meet the requirements of the country. Such teachers are not available because the conventional one-year B.Ed. course does not equip our teachers to handle any radical change. Apart from the experience accumulated by the centres of excellence that are scattered throughout the country, we have excellent guidelines available from recent thinkers such as Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, and also cues available from the rest of the world, particularly from countries that have contributed phenomenally to modern science during the last three hundred years. What we need while designing our new teacher education courses is what Sri Aurobindo has called the process of critical assimilation. Critical assimilation means that we first learn and understand all the relevant material irrespective of its source, and then use our critical faculties to choose what we would accept and what we would reject. The important thing is that if we accept something, it should be because we understand it; and if we reject something, that should also be because we understand it.
(If the conventional one-year B.Ed. course does not equip our teachers to handle any radical change such as the one required by the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, why is SAES now proposing a regular college of education together with the engineering college? How can such a college of education coexist with an AICTE approved engineering college? Why can’t Mirambika school coexist with such a college per NCTE guidelines?)
The Sri Aurobindo Education Society (SAES), New Delhi, was inspired by an experiment in school education that the Mother initiated in Puducherry about 75 years ago. The experiment has continued in Delhi for about six decades through our schools, The Mother’s International School and Mirambika Free Progress School. But these, and other centres of excellence in the country, can hope to make a dent on mainstream school education only if adequately equipped teachers are made available in the country through a thoroughly revised revolutionary teacher education course. That is what the SAES is now planning to do by starting its own teacher education institute which would prepare teachers of the future for the award of B.Ed. and B.El.Ed. degrees.
(You say that the Mirambika Free Progress School is a centre of excellence. How can a center of excellence be a failure as claimed by Pranjal Jauhar? If indeed the college of education is your / SAES vision, why did SAES not apply for a college of education instead of the engineering college? Why have you signed on and submitted papers and affidavits before the AICTE declaring that no other courses will run alongside the AICTE approved courses from the Mirambika building?)
Project consciousness
For the SAES, a teacher education institute is part of a much broader vision that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gave us. Briefly, they acknowledged the fact that the problems of human existence such as evil, injustice, misery and suffering will not disappear unless the level of human consciousness on the planet Earth goes up significantly. For this to happen, either we can wait for the slow process of evolution, or we can also contribute to the process by our own efforts, thereby accelerating the process. While it is possible for individuals to raise their consciousness, the level will rise on a global scale only if a sufficiently large number of individuals engage in the effort, thereby generating that critical mass of people that can raise the average level of consciousness perceptibly. This is a futuristic vision, and the best way to give this vision a shape is to make the next generation experience the peace, love and joy that rising in consciousness brings. The best place to provide that experience is the school. To the SAES, equipping schoolteachers with the tools by which they can bring this experience to schoolchildren is part of the ‘Project Consciousness’.
(If indeed “For the SAES, a teacher education institute is part of a much broader vision that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gave us”, why did SAES discontinue the teacher training institute which was running alongside Mirambika in terms of SAES Secretary Mr. Kashyap’s affidavit submitted with the DDA in 1984? If indeed, “The best place to provide that experience is the school”, why is SAES taking steps to undermine and create circumstances in vain for closing the 34 year old school – Mirambika? Where will the students of your teacher education institute practice the methodology of integral education per the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? Or is it that SAES has abandoned that philosophy for good or gain? )

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Half a dozen schemes to classify human personality

Regarding what Sri Aurobindo says here …
“but one predominates, in one he is born and that strikes the note of his character and determines the type and cast of all his actions; the rest subordinated to the dominant type and helps to give it its complement.”
I wonder to what extent this formulation will remain true as the evolution of man progresses and man’s nature becomes more and more complex and varied. (Currently there are half a dozen schemes trying to classify human personality and inner temperaments, all based on different criteria.) I personally can’t say that any of the above qualitative powers predominates in me — I go through long periods where one predominates and then another.
It seems to me that there’s no need to have a fixed idea of one’s swabhava or make a fetish out of it, as the action of the Supramental Shakti in any event brings out latent capacities or new capacities hitherto undeveloped.
Hi Sandeep,
No, I get the point being made here … I’m just a bit skeptical that human nature divides so neatly into exactly four types or swabhavas based on the predominance of one of the four powers of the Mother manifesting in an individual’s nature. It seems kind of arbitrary to me.
I also don’t see the connection between the Vaishya swabhava and Mahalakshmi.
To my knowledge Mother and Sri Aurobindo didn’t hand out swabhava labels to sadhaks so I’m only saying that I feel that there’s no need to make some sort of a fetish out of what one thinks one’s swabhava is, given the dynamic nature of these things in yoga anyway.
These kinds of questions can’t be addressed without applying a feminist framework in our day and age. I would argue that the reason why men find it so hard to stop sexualizing women (even when women are not trying to attract them) is because there is an actual social and cultural infrastructure (involving things like: a certain type of patriarchal marriage, prostitution, widespread access to pornography, a hypersexualized media, a particular way in which male-female relations are ordered) in most societies that encourages men to view women as little more than sexual objects and/or baby machines. Of course ultimately there are occult forces at work, but what are the cultural structures that perpetuate the kingdoms of these vital forces? And how can we build newer cultural structures that stop doing so?
Feminists have argued that sexuality has been specifically constructed to keep women politically subordinated to men and dehumanized throughout the ages, because women are seen as the objects of sexuality while men are seen as the agents of it. The sexual liberation movement in the West has almost totally watered down the original noble aims of feminism. The early feminists in the 1970s were actually totally opposed to this movement because they knew that sexual liberation, in practice, could never lead to anything other than the political and social degradation of women because of the historically and systemically unequal nature of male-female relations. And they were right.
By the way, if you look at some rare pre-patriarchal, woman-centered hunter-gatherer cultures in the world, where this sort of sophisticated patriarchal infrastructure does not exist (you could say these are pre-civilizational cultures), you find that women are often roaming around wearing very little clothing, but the men are not in a constant state of sexual excitement because of it. In fact they hardly seem to notice that the women aren’t wearing much. This sort of anthropological work has led me to conclude that the excessive sexualization of women by men is largely culturally constructed and not inherent to male nature at all.
So it’s all well and good to ask if women should dress modestly or not, and maybe in certain cultures they do have to dress up in a certain way as a pragmatic compromise with reality, but I think the real question is: how do you dismantle a (virtually universal) cultural infrastructure that, in the service of gender inequality, encourages men to see women as sexual objects, and encourages women to perform as sexual objects for men? And here the sexually libertarian culture in the West and the socially conservative culture in the Middle East and Asia strike me as being pretty much two sides of the same misogynistic coin that sees women, not as human beings, agents, and subjects, but as nothing more than sexual objects.

Related articles

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  2. The transmutation of sexual energy
  3. Why one should not hate the sinner?
  4. Developing discernment on which actions are spiritual
  5. The foundation of spiritual relationships
  6. How to choose the right life partner
  7. Four stages in human love
  8. Why are artists irregular in their conduct?
  9. How to increase will-power
  10. Ethical, logical and aesthetic mind
  11. Why bad things happen to good people
  12. Ill-effects of television on Yoga

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reconstruct religion in accordance with the intellectual climate

These  principles  echo  Haridas  Chaudhuri’s  statements  regarding  the inevitability  of  religion  as  well as  the  need  for  us  to  “reconstruct”  religion  to contemporary  issues.  In  his  book,  Modern  Man’s  Religion  (1966),  he thoughtfully  noted:   
"Religion  is  an  autonomous  function  of  the  spirit.  It  can hardly  be  replaced  by  any  non-religious  discipline.  That which  seeks  to  replace  religion  in  a  radically  atheistic and  anti-religious  mood  begins  soon  to  function  as  a special  kind  of  religion.  So  the  great  need  of  our  day  is not  to  reject  religion  but  to  reconstruct  it  in  accordance with  the  intellectual  climate  and  the  specific requirements of existence (ix)." -----. 1984  [1966].  Modern  Man’s  Religion.  San  Francisco:  Cultural Integration  Fellowship.   
[Educating for Peace: The Founding Vision of CIIS  By Joseph Subbiondo, President of the California Institute of Integral Studies]   

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Resisting the hegemony of muscular Hindutva

  1. I thought the conversation had attained closure.

    Thanks for the links. I had a hard time reading it as the revulsion was overwhelming. Nevertheless I drew solace from the fact that the idea still remains in the ‘propaganda’ phase even after 7 years.

    I again take refuge in Their words.

    Posted below is Her reply to the following question-

    'Many people say that the teaching of Sri Aurobindo is a new religion. Would you say that it is a religion?'

    "People who say that are fools who don’t even know what they are talking about. You only have to read all that Sri Aurobindo has written to know that it is impossible to base a religion on his works, because he presents each problem, each question in all its aspects, showing the truth contained in each way of seeing things, and he explains that in order to attain the Truth you must realise a synthesis which goes beyond all mental notions and emerge into a transcendence beyond thought.

    So the second part of your question is meaningless. Besides, if you had read what was published in the last Bulletin, you could not have asked this question.

    I repeat that when we speak of Sri Aurobindo there can be no question of a teaching nor even of a revelation, but of an action from the Supreme; no religion can be founded on that.

    But men are so foolish that they can change anything into a religion, so great is their need of a fixed framework for their narrow thought and limited action. They do not feel secure unless they can assert this is true and that is not; but such an assertion becomes impossible for anyone who has read and understood what Sri Aurobindo has written. Religion and Yoga do not belong to the same plane of being and spiritual life can exist in all its purity only when it is free from all mental dogma."

    There is nothing more I have to say.
  2. Just back after watching a movie in a Mall titled, "Welcome Back." It's a foolish film, but there seems to be a market for it. Even The Mother recognised people's need for religion, and, in a way, foresaw that Sri Aurobindo's teaching will be turned into a religion. As long as minkind is in a foolish stage, the role of religion remains very crucial. Resisting the hegemony of muscular Hindutva, for instance, is a significant task for the Savitri Era Religion at present. Thus, there are both sides to it which should, ideally, be examined in an article format, an example being:
  3. Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.