A Series Inspired by India’s Rebirth – 11

Author: Beloo Mehra (2019). Published under the title ‘When Young India Awakes’ in Sri Aurobindo’s Action, Vol. 50 (12), December 2019, pp. 8-10

CONTINUED FROM Part 10

Indian youth
When Young India Awakes

CHAPTER X – continued

“A day may come, must surely come, we will say, when humanity will be ready spiritually, morally, socially for the reign of universal peace; meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted and accounted for by any practical philosophy and religion.”[1]

Yuvaan’s train had now reached Baroda…no, Vadodara station. It was around 8:00PM. He kept his book away, somewhat reluctantly, because he was really enjoying what he was reading. This was supposed to be an account of Sri Aurobindo’s political work, he had thought. But to his delight, he found in Rishabhchand’s book[2], this deeply engaging discussion about Sri Aurobindo’s views on the necessity of war till the humanity is ready – spiritually, morally and socially, – the outer battle being an expression or even a necessity for the inner battle, the failings of human nature, and the deeper human aspiration for peace – within and without.

He was totally absorbed in reading how Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary politics was an expression of his growing spiritual quest, his inner journey. It was a great lesson for Yuvaan in appreciating Indian spiritual thought when he learned how some of the political actions and tactics of Sri Aurobindo were later developed fully in a spiritual-philosophical manner in his several works including ‘Essays on the Gita.’

Yuvaan had been browsing on his phone to download a full volume of Essays on the Gita when his destination arrived. A part of him was also happy to arrive at this town where Sri Aurobindo had spent 13 years of his life after returning from England. He was curious to see and ‘feel’ the places that he had read about while surfing on the net during his train journey – the places where Sri Aurobindo had lived and taught.

After checking into his hotel and some quick dinner, he planned out his next day’s visit to Sri Aurobindo Nivas at Dandia Bazar. It was around 10:30PM, but he didn’t feel sleepy. Laying in his bed, he decided to start reading Essays on the Gita on his phone.

It was late at night and he was also finding the language a bit difficult to follow, but there was still something about what he was reading which kept him going.

“…there is undoubtedly a Truth one and eternal which we are seeking, from which all other truth derives, by the light of which all other truth finds its right place, explanation and relation to the scheme of knowledge. But precisely for that reason it cannot be shut up in a single trenchant formula, it is not likely to be found in its entirety or in all its bearings in any single philosophy or scripture or uttered altogether and for ever by any one teacher, thinker, prophet or Avatar.”[3]
***

“…what we can do with profit is to seek in the Gita for the actual living truths it contains, apart from their metaphysical form, to extract from it what can help us or the world at large and to put it in the most natural and vital form and expression we can find that will be suitable to the mentality and helpful to the spiritual needs of our present-day humanity.”[4]
***

“Only those Scriptures, religions, philosophies which can be thus constantly renewed, relived, their stuff of permanent truth constantly reshaped and developed in the inner thought and spiritual experience of a developing humanity, continue to be of living importance to mankind. The rest remain as monuments of the past, but have no actual force or vital impulse for the future.”[5]

Wow! With what clarity and depth Sri Aurobindo was teaching him what Bhagavad Gita has to offer – to him, to the humanity! He remembered that they have had two or three copies of the Gita at his home, including one in Sanskrit, but he had only seen his grandmother reading it a few times whenever she visited them. He wondered why his parents never really told him about this important scripture. Had they ever read it? And why did he never ask them about it? Perhaps such quest has to first arise from within, he told himself.

He continued to read.

“The language of the Gita, the structure of thought, the combination and balancing of ideas belong neither to the temper of a sectarian teacher nor to the spirit of a rigorous analytical dialectics cutting off one angle of the truth to exclude all the others; but rather there is a wide, undulating, encircling movement of ideas which is the manifestation of a vast synthetic mind and a rich synthetic experience. This is one of those great syntheses in which Indian spirituality has been as rich as in its creation of the more intensive, exclusive movements of knowledge and religious realisation that follow out with an absolute concentration one clue, one path to its extreme issues. It does not cleave asunder, but reconciles and unifies.”[6]

He skipped some passages or just skimmed through others because he felt it was getting a bit above his understanding of the deeper philosophical specifics. But he wasn’t bothered about it at all. Strange! He felt he just needed to stay with the words, and the sense and meaning would soon be clear. More than that, something in him was convinced that the truth he was meant to find in these words, behind these words, will be revealed. Did he really know what he was seeking? No. He was just absorbing what the text was revealing for him, at that moment. But then these were not just words flickering on his phone screen. This was truth, right there!

“We do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future. A mass of new material is flowing into us; we have not only to assimilate the influences of the great theistic religions of India and of the world and a recovered sense of the meaning of Buddhism, but to take full account of the potent though limited revelations of modern knowledge and seeking; and, beyond that, the remote and dateless past which seemed to be dead is returning upon us with an effulgence of many luminous secrets long lost to the consciousness of mankind but now breaking out again from behind the veil. All this points to a new, a very rich, a very vast synthesis; a fresh and widely embracing harmonisation of our gains is both an intellectual and a spiritual necessity of the future.”[7]

“Noons of the future” – what a vision! What a futuristic vision Sri Aurobindo is holding up there for humanity, for all Indians, for all beings, for Yuvaan. Is the humanity working toward this intellectual and spiritual necessity, this grand, vast synthesis, this widely embracing harmony? Is his country moving toward that? Is he, in his own being?

His eyes were getting heavy after all that reading on the tiny phone screen. He decided to sleep and pick up the book next evening. He was looking forward to going to Sri Aurobindo Nivas.

***

Yuvaan reached this beautiful red-brick building, called Sri Aurobindo Nivas, around 10:00AM. He had read that this was now a permanent memorial to Sri Aurobindo, dedicated to spread his message and teachings.

He went to this peaceful samadhi – where the relics of Sri Aurobindo are enshrined. The beautiful and calm ambience of this open space amidst the greenery brought an instant relaxed and elevated feeling for Yuvaan. He sat near the samadhi, trying to just feel the presence, trying to just be. He just kept sitting and slowly his eyes closed and his mind drew within. Was he meditating, he would later wonder?

Perhaps 45 or 50 minutes had passed when he opened his eyes. He saw a group of three people sitting around the samadhi, at a little distance from him. In a few minutes one of them slowly got up and did a pranam at the place where the relics were kept. Something in Yuvaan was touched at this vision of reverence and devotion. He found his palms were also closing in a reverential pranam gesture as he started walking toward the middle of the samadhi area.

But more than his outer gesture, he became conscious of the inner feeling that arose in him. Something like love, or was this devotion? He didn’t know. He didn’t care. He just wanted to be with that feeling, feel whatever was arising in him completely, as fully as he could.

To be continued…


Notes

[1] Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 19, p. 49

[2] Rishabhchand, Sri Aurobindo – His Life Unique

[3] CWSA, Vol. 19, p. 4

[4] ibid, p. 5

[5] ibid, p. 5

[6] ibid, p. 8

[7] ibid, p. 10

Read earlier parts in the series:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8a, Part 8b, Part 9, Part 10

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