Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)
I feel fortunate to be given an opportunity to write a series of articles for Sri Aurobindo’s Action: A Journal of India’s Resurgence, a monthly journal that has been published from Pondicherry since 1970.
Starting with January 2019, I have been writing the series titled “When Young India Awakes.” This is an attempt to present the seeking of a young man named Yuvaan who is on a journey to discover some truths about India, and of course in the process, to discover some truths about himself as well.
At a small bookstore in Varanasi, from where he starts his journey, Yuvaan finds a little book titled “India’s Rebirth,” which becomes his companion and guide. In each chapter of Yuvaan’s journey we find him going deeper within as he goes deeper into the truths he discovers in this book.
I share below a small Introduction to the series which was published in the December 2018 issue of Sri Aurobindo’s Action. I may periodically share some excerpts / chapters that are coming out in print every month since January 2019.
Published in Sri Aurobindo’s Action, Vol. 49, No. 12, pp. 14-15
In a fiery political piece written for Karmayogin in August 1909, Sri Aurobindo summarised in one power-packed sentence what will determine the future of Indian nation – “A brave, frank, clean-hearted, courageous and aspiring youth is the only foundation on which the future nation can be built” (CWSA, Vol. 8, p. 168).
Let us take a moment to reflect on this.
And let us take a few more.
Indeed, it is the young people of a country who determine the future course of a nation. What are their dreams and aspirations, what are their struggles and challenges, what solutions and resolutions they come up with – all these are important indicators that point to the direction a nation will take.
What are some of the images that come to mind when we begin to think about our youth today?
~~ They are only interested in the latest gadgets and fashion trends, the latest model of that high-speed motorbike or that super-cool sports car, and perhaps also the latest Netflix series or Bollywood (or Mollywood or Kollywood) gossip.
~~ They are suffocating under intense pressure to get admission in a premium engineering school to fulfil their middle-class parents’ dreams, or join a foreign degree programme which brings an assurance of a high salaried job as a reward.
~~ They don’t have any interest in Indian traditions or customs, they only want to copy the Western habits and lifestyle.
~~ They have no regard for ‘Indian values’ and ‘Indian culture’.
~~ And many more things like these….
If we think deeply about these observations – most of which are true to a very large extent – we recognise that these indicate an important and necessary phase of the evolutionary journey of our nation and society at this point in time. Times are such that the most important indicators of a successful life today are possessing the latest smartphone and a 30-year-home-loan at the age of 30.
Why we are at this phase, how we arrived here, and how we can move beyond this stage – an analysis in those directions will take us away from our present purpose, so we let all that rest for now. But let us recall another important truth given to us by Sri Aurobindo – “Only those thoughts are true the opposite of which is also true in its own time and application; …” (CWSA, Vol. 12, p. 428). Contemplating on this tells us that there may be more or perhaps other truths about the Indian youth that are not reflected in or expressed through these stereotypical portrayals listed above.
There are perhaps large sections among Indian youth today who are seeking for a new direction, a new way of figuring out what it means to live a meaningful and contented life. There are many who after having gone through the experiences of pursuing a West-aping materialistic lifestyle are now becoming aware of a deeper need to become more self-aware and to pursue a profounder view of life. Many may have already been walking the path to a more conscious and enriching life. There are perhaps many others who despite their young years have somehow recognised the shallowness and superficiality of their ‘modern’ education which ends up uprooting them from their culture and history, and are now keen to discover for themselves truths about their identities and their culture, their country and their society, their roots and their heritage.
In the coming issues of Sri Aurobindo’s Action, we will meet one such young man, Yuvaan. We will follow Yuvaan as he discovers some truths about India and some truths about himself. We will witness as he awakens to the need for knowing the ‘soul’ of India and ‘that’ which may be his soul. We will meet his guides and gurus along the way; we will learn of his inspirations and his aspirations; we will join him in his challenges and his victories.
In every part of this series we will have an opportunity, along with Yuvaan, to reflect on some key insights given by Sri Aurobindo on the future of India, on the work India is destined to do for the humanity and the world, on the path that India must follow if she has to awaken to her true nature and purpose, her swabhava and her swadharma.
We invite our readers to walk along this journey with Yuvaan, on this journey titled “When the Young India Awakes”
We offer this series with a sincere prayer in our hearts for the true awakening of India and her children.