Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)
This is the third and last part of our series, with this we conclude the first chapter of the book we started in part 2.
Continued from Part 2….
WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN EXTERNAL EVENTS AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL STATE?
One of the key points we emphasise in this book is the interrelationship of the inner and outer worlds of man; in other words, does the psychological condition of man influence and affect his outer behaviour and circumstances or is it the external conditions and circumstances that determine his life? We shall try to show in this book that though man is a material being and is affected by his material environment, he is essentially a mind and at a more evolved stage a spiritual being.
Let us look at a few examples of events in history where the influences of the idea and thought-power have contributed greatly to the external events. One such example has been the French Revolution. It is generally understood that the French Revolution came about mainly because of political and economic reasons; there is certainly no doubt that the poverty and the food shortages played an important part; similarly the political system based on the total domination of the upper classes contributed greatly to the onset of the revolution. But it cannot be denied that the intellectuals of France also played a very important role in awakening the people. There can be no doubt that the writings of Rousseau and Voltaire and other writers and intellectuals made all the difference; for in the other countries of Europe the political and economic conditions were even worse. It was really the ideas of the intellectuals that shaped the course of events.
Similarly, it was due to the writings of Karl Marx and Engels that over a century later the Russian revolution took place. The power of the idea plays a very important part in the historical evolution of man.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE INDIVIDUAL?
This is another critical question that concerns the study of history. What is the role of the individual in human progress and in human life in general? In fact does the individual have any role to play at all or is it that progress and change is a movement of the masses and general forces that drive human beings? We shall try to show in this book the great importance of the individual and in a certain sense also show that most human progress has been initiated by the individual; the individual leads and the masses follow as best as they can.
The most striking examples of individuals shaping the destiny of a nation are very evident in recent times. France was profoundly influenced by Napoleon, the influence of Hitler on Germany cannot be underestimated nor the profound effect that Churchill had on the course of English history. In India, in recent times the personality of Gandhi gave a distinct stamp to Indian politics; and all these movements were possible only because at their centre there was an individual with some outstanding and exceptional qualities. This is not to deny the importance of the collectivity, but only to point out that the human individual plays a great role and sometimes even the most important one in human evolution. As a matter of fact, some historians conceive of history as a mass of biographies. Without completely agreeing with this viewpoint, we should be able to appreciate the value of the individual in human progress.
WHAT IS THE AIM OF LIFE AND HOW CAN HISTORY HELP US FIND IT?
This is the last but most important question to be explored here in this brief discussion. We start with a firm belief that life has a purpose and that human life has a goal, and that this goal is fulfilled by an evolutionary process. At the present moment man represents the mental stage of evolution; by this alone he is different and superior to the animal, but this too will have to be surpassed and man has to attain to a greater level of consciousness and perfection. The aim and destiny of human life will thus be first to develop his mind and then go beyond to a greater perfection beyond mind.
How can history help us in this pursuit?
It may be said that all study, or at least the major part of what we study consists in analysing the past. It is the same with history too; but we need to take great care that we do not stick to the past.
It will be our aim in this book to show that all that has happened in the past has only helped to prepare the present and in the same way the present is preparing the future. With the past as our bedrock and the present as the springboard, we must prepare to leap into the future. Viewed from this point, the study of history can be of great value.
Prof Kittu Reddy was born in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in 1936. He is the nephew of Late Sanjiva Reddy, the former President of India.
At the young age of 5 he was taken to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry by his parents. Brought up in the spiritual ambiance of the Ashram, he has lived there ever since. He had all his education at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education from where he graduated in 1957. In 1958, he started teaching at the same Centre, first at the school level and later from 1969 at the college level. He teaches courses on Indian Culture, Political Science, Social Science, and History in the light and vision of Sri Aurobindo. He was also in the administration of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education from 1958 to 1976.
In 1987, he came in contact with the Indian Army. Since then he has conducted numerous workshops for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. These workshops deal with Motivation, Leadership, Ethics, and the Indian nation. They have been held both in Pondicherry and at various training centres of the Armed Forces.
In 1994, at the request of General BC Joshi, then Chief of Army Staff, he moved over to Delhi for two years as Adviser to the Army Welfare Education Society. He also wrote capsules for the training institutions of the Army from the induction stage till the rank of senior officers with the intention of introducing spirituality as a motivating factor. He worked closely with the Army Schools and is a founding member of the Academic Advisory Council of AWES.
Prof Reddy also worked closely with General Shankar Roy Chowdhury when he was the Chief of the Indian Army. He has also written a book for the Army, titled “Bravest of the Brave” and two monographs, “Kargil – the manifestation of a deeper problem” and “Secularism, Religion and Spirituality”.
In 1995 he addressed the Royal College of Defence Studies in England. In 2006, he visited Sweden and gave a few talks at the Indo-Swedish Association and at the National Defence College in Stockholm. In the last few years Prof. Reddy has been giving talks at various educational institutions in India, on various topics related to Indian Society, Indian Education and Culture, Stress Management, and World Unity.