Sri Aurobindo — The Rishi of India’s Renaissance

Overview of the Webinar

Dr. Sampadanada Mishra welcomed all the speakers and participants by mentioning that this webinar series is the realisation of the aspiration of celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and India’s 75th Independence Day which culminates on 15th August, 2022. He said that the principle idea of this two-year celebration is to present Sri Aurobindo as the Rishi of India’s renaissance through a series of 12 webinars over this period (One webinar every two months) before the grand celebration happens.

Nilima Bhat introduced the theme of the webinar — Sri Aurobindo – The Rishi of India’s Renaissance by referring to the words that Sri Aurobindo wrote during India’s independence, “All great movements of life in India have begun with a new spiritual thought and usually a new religious activity.” Nilimaji introduced the Keynote Speaker, Padmabhushan Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) as a Hindu and Vedic acharya, a traditional Ayurveda doctor and teacher, and as a Vedic astrologer of international repute, who has authored 35 published books in 20 languages worldwide, and also is an admirer and follower of Sri Aurobindo.

Dr. David Frawley delivered his keynote speech by referring to Sri Aurobindo as the guru, yogi, writer, thinker, poet and rishi who has had the broadest vision, the most extensive works and the deepest spiritual presence that continues even today. He stated that India (Bharat) needs to reawaken its connection to

Sri Aurobindo so that humanity can get back on track for its real work which is the greater evolution of consciousness and not be caught up in conflict and materialism at various levels.

He touched upon The Life Divine as the most central work of Sri Aurobindo in which he outlines this evolution of consciousness through the material world and points out its way for the future for those who seek to develop a higher consciousness. He also mentioned that Sri Aurobindo has brought about a renaissance in Vedic thought and literature through his works on the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the

Bhagavad Gita. Dr. Frawley spoke of the need of a spiritual, yogic, adhyathmic revolution and renaissance in consciousness for the entire planet when the entire humanity is undergoing a time of difficulty and major change, and of Sri Aurobindo as one of the gurus who has led the way for this. Dr Frawley highlighted that central to the Indian renaissance is the Sanskrit language and understanding of Sri Aurobindo as a great teacher who gave us the inner essence of yoga and its connection to ascending to higher states of consciousness.

Dr. Kundan Singh moderated the panel discussion and stated that there is a lot that needs to be done with the work of Sri Aurobindo and that we haven’t done justice to the incredible contribution that Sri Aurobindo has made. He specified the fact that Sri Aurobindo’s presence in India’s educational system is minimal. He then requested Dr Subhash Kak and Dr Anirban Ganguly to share their thoughts on the topic.

Dr. Subhash Kak spoke about the path and approach India should undertake by reiterating Sri Aurobindo’s words that unless one is connected in a vital way to the timeless truths that the

rishis spoke about, India will just not be able to make it. Giving the example of the Indian information technology companies who send engineers and programmers elsewhere, he opined that India is not focused on making products. He said that in order to achieve something you must first of all know how to make things which others are making so that you can internalize the process. Speaking of literature, Dr Kak said that Indian academia has done little in terms of translating western classics into Indian languages which would enable the general public to internalize them and also would ultimately enable India to be at the same level as everybody else. He reiterated this by giving the example of the Indian youth having to learn English before having to learn a fundamental skill like programming in today’s times whereas in all other countries, programming is done in their mother tongue. Dr Kak highlighted that sadly, there is literally no mention of Sri Aurobindo or internalization of his message in the Indian education system.

Dr. Kundan Singh responded to Dr Subhash Kak’s initial deliberation that immense literature on the Indians was deliberately concocted and constructed by the Britishers to lead the Indians away from their own cosmology, traditions and culture. He then invited Dr Anirban Ganguly to share his thoughts on the topic.

Dr. Anirban Ganguly agreeing to Dr Subhash Kak’s view on the ideological control of India’s educational institutions, added that this has been happening strongly for the 50 years since the post- independence period and that the education policy during that time did not consider the educational experiments that had grown organically as part of our freedom movement and the civilizational experiments of education that had come up in this land. He also mentioned that he himself had faced challenges and questions when he had decided to do his PhD on Sri Aurobindo and that Dr. Nadkarni had also spoken about this conspiracy of silence against Sri Aurobindo and today, he believes that this conspiracy of silence against Sri Aurobindo has been conclusively broken.

Dr. Ganguly started his deliberation by remembering Shri Guruji Golwalkar’s visit to The Mother in 1972 where Guruji had a unique meditation with her after which The Mother presented him with a rose. Shri Guruji speaks of this experience as he felt that The Mother gave this directive to him in

silence to perform pure selfless action after which he, as head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, with mother’s blessings, organized one of the biggest celebrations of Sri Aurobindo’s 100 birth anniversary. He also mentioned that being the director of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, he recollected that Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was chosen by The Mother as a key instrument for founding the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry and that he continued to have an active link with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother for as long as he lived.

Dr Ganguly referred to Sri Aurobindo’s phrase of ‘Active Self-defence’ and that any civilization which is not conscious and not actively practicing this active self-defence risks getting subsumed or decimated.

About the Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said it is a decisive rediscovery and assertion that the spiritual heritage of India cannot be denigrated, cannot be marginalized and is to ultimately become mainstream in the self-discovery and the march of India towards Vishwa guruhood.

Speaking that he can see the vision of Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s integral education in the new national education policy, Dr Ganguly highlighted that the new education policy seeks to make our students global citizens while still staying connected to their roots and also to teach students to have an enquiry based, discovery based, discussion based and analysis based methodology.

He concluded by saying that what we are seeing today, especially in the last few years, is an incremental and sustained realization of many of the fundamental things that Sri Aurobindo had articulated — faith in our spiritual heritage, faith in our cultural continuum, faith in the vision of India as a civilizational state, towards whom many more civilizations are looking up to in various dimensions, is coming about and the sense that this faith is no more going to be denigrated is being very clearly established gradually in India. He added that we must also guard ourselves against a false secularization of Sri Aurobindo —

we cannot detach Sri Aurobindo from the essence of Bharat, its spiritual and cultural heritage.

Dr. Ganguly, replying to the question of ‘Who are the enemies of India in Indic culture and civilization?’ said that the enemies are those who ensured that people like Kireet Joshi and J S Rajput were removed from their positions at ICPR and NCERT respectively and the likes of Sunil Khilnani and Christophe Jaffrelot who had monopoly over the narrative and discourse of the Idea of India which has now been broken.

Dr. Ganguly drew our attention to the words of Sri Aurobindo in the The renaissance in India, “India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the occident’s success and failure.”

Speaking about the importance of the power of thought in the journey of Indian renaissance,

Dr. Singh said that though The Mother and Sri Aurobindo were clear that the mind is not the ultimate instrument of knowledge and has to be transcended to reach higher levels of consciousness in order to access to the truth, they also said that the mind can be a very good instrument for the transmission of that knowledge. He added that for the Indian renaissance to get expedited, we certainly need to create platforms where people who are committed and passionate about these ideas can actually come together and produce significant literature which will lay to obsolescence, the antagonistic literature which has been dwarfing the growth of India.

Dr. Ganguly concluded the deliberations saying that though there is a long battle ahead of us, an intellectual kshatriya needs to be optimistic but also have this stamina for the relentless struggle and battle ahead.

On special request to say a few words, Dattatreya Hosabele (Sah-Sarakaryavaah, Joint General Secretary, of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) said that it was a wonderful and enlightening session which made him remember his visits to the Aurobindo Ashram and readings of Sri Aurobindo during his university days. He added that following Sri Aurobindo’s views are very essential for India’s renaissance and that India is at the threshold of this reawakening. He concluded his speech by saying that Sri Aurobindo has said once that India will rise, India will rise not for herself, India will not rise to trample others but India as the lighthouse of the world will rise to shed light for the entire humanity and those days are fast approaching.

Gitanjali Ji delivered the Vote of Thanks by offering her gratitude to The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and Mother India, and she announced the launch of the platform ‘’ on the 22nd of August, which would be a platform for crowd sourcing of ideas for India’s renaissance and which endeavours to bring together people who are working in different pockets in a spirit of collaboration for this initiative. Gitanjali invited the audience to be part of this launch to converse about how we can crowdsource ideas for this initiative along with Dr Subhash Kak and Mr Sonam Wangchuk who will be part of the launch event. She added that a lot of relentless work has gone into this initiative and thanked the volunteers and the partner organizations for their efforts and initiative.

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