Photographer: Suhas Mehra. Please do not reproduce any of the photographs without explicit permission. All quotes are from Sri Aurobindo. (Selected with help from Beloo Mehra.)
That day when browsing through some of my old photographs taken during our trips to nearby places in Tamil Nadu, I found the pictures to be whispering some type of a story.
A story about the past, present and future of India.
About how we may still be somewhat sleeping, like the sleepy town of Tharangambadi.
About what we need to do in order to wake up, in order to renew ourselves, renew our country. About the need to light the fire within, the light of dawn-fire in each one of us.
This photo-feature is a result of such visual and mental wanderings. Wishing all our Indian readers a Happy Republic Day, 2016.
“Behind the waverings and strivings of our twilit surface minds the soul of India knows no doubt what it intends and is moving us to great fulfilments. But it is well also for us to ponder and inquire what it is the national soul and the soul of humanity demand from us and on what paths we are most likely to give our energies and efforts the maximum power and serviceableness to the great age of mankind and of India on which we are entering. For at such a moment there are usually many false starts and many misdirected aims and by seeing our way and our goal more clearly we may better be able to avoid the waste of energy, talent and even genius to which they give rise.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol 12, p. 399).
“There is the sentiment of Indianism, there is not yet the knowledge. There is a vague idea, there is no deﬁnite conception or deep insight. We have yet to know ourselves, what we were, are and may be; what we did in the past and what we are capable of doing in the future; our history and our mission.” (CWSA, Vol. 8, p. 20)
“A nation is building in India today before the eyes of the world so swiftly, so palpably that all can watch the process and those who have sympathy and intuition distinguish the forces at work, the materials in use, the lines of the divine architecture.” (ibid, p. 23)
“This nation is not a new race raw from the workshop of Nature or created by modern circumstances. One of the oldest races and greatest civilisations on this earth, the most indomitable in vitality, the most fecund in greatness, the deepest in life, the most wonderful in potentiality, after taking into itself numerous sources of strength from foreign strains of blood and other types of human civilisation, is now seeking to lift itself for good into an organised national unity.” (p. 23)
“Formerly a congeries of kindred nations with a single life and a single culture, always by the law of this essential oneness tending to unity, always by its excess of fecundity engendering fresh diversities and divisions, it has never yet been able to overcome permanently the almost insuperable obstacles to the organisation of a continent. The time has now come when those obstacles can be overcome. The attempt which our race has been making throughout its long history, it will now make under entirely new circumstances.” (p. 23)
“A keen observer would predict its success because the only important obstacles have been or are in the process of being removed. But we go farther and believe that it is sure to succeed because the freedom, unity and greatness of India have now become necessary to the world.” (p. 23)
“Brahmatej is the thing we need most of all and ﬁrst of all. In one sense, that means the pre-eminence of religion; but after all, what the Europeans* mean by religion is not Brahmatej; which is rather spirituality, the force and energy of thought and action arising from communion with or self-surrender to that within us which rules the world. In that sense we shall use it. This force and energy can be directed to any purpose God desires for us; it is sufﬁcient to knowledge, love or service; it is good for the liberation of an individual soul, the building of a nation or the turning of a tool. It works from within, it works in the power of God, it works with superhuman energy. The re-awakening of that force in three hundred millions** of men by the means which our past has placed in our hands, that is our object.” (p. 21, emphasis added.)