National Seminar Proceedings

Institute of Human Study, Samvit Kendra, and Pragna Bharthi together organized one day National Seminar on Sri Aurobindo `Thoughts and Writings’ – Auro Adhyayan held on 21st August 2022 at CESS, Hyderabad which was funded by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India.

Sri Bal Reddy of Samvit Kendra presided over the Inaugural Function and invited the Hon’ble Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan to inaugurate the National Seminar. Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan virtually inaugurated the seminar and wished the organizers and participants a fruitful day.

Prof R.S. Sarraju, Pro Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University, and a member of Governing Board Auroville the opening remarks congratulated the organizers and reflected that Sri Aurobindo’s views are more relevant to the contemporary world. Dr. Chhalamayi Reddy of Aurobindo International School chaired the session.

Prof Murali Manohar oversaw the Morning session and requested Dr, Ananda Reddy to deliver the keynote address. Dr. Reddy commented that Sri Aurobindo was a visionary in the true sense who went beyond philosophy, beyond Hinduism, and belongs to the World at large. The 150th Birth Anniversary Celebration of Sri Aurobindo will enable us to understand His Universal Consciousness.

He wrote in 1905, ‘I was born with the great mission of liberating India and the entire world. Lord Sri Krishna ordained Sri Aurobindo to liberate and uplift the nation, `speak to your nation, India’s liberation will pave the way for the world’s future and thus played a role in the freedom struggle. It was also important to regain India’s spirituality which would enable her Renaissance. For him, all human activity is replete with spirituality, entirely based on the principles of Sanathana dharma, there’s no part of life that is ‘secular’ and devoid of Sanathana principles. In the entire world, the attempt of India itself is to make the very path of life spiritual, all life is infused with Brahmam, and life itself is full of divinity. India need not imitate the western secular mode of functioning; we need to integrate life and all walks of life including politics with a spiritual connection. The challenge is to make life into Life Divine.  Sri Aurobindo said Indians were blindly imitating the west, India’s poverty is not material poverty, but a lack of original thinking, and that we have a `thought-phobia’. Even today when we have a profusion of universities, are they really of better quality? Speaking of national education, he said we require a national ‘yagna’ of integral education for intellectual rejuvenation & Emotional or resurgence of the vitality of life; our life should be full of vitality and energy if we want to achieve great heights of creativity and intellect like our ancient Rishis achieved. Spirituality could contribute the Life in terms of material growth and national spirit as well. Material advancement is a prerequisite for the dawn of new spirituality according to the Divine Order.

True spirituality comes in phases, physically, vitally, mentally, and spiritually. Until our minds are spiritual, the New Age of Spirituality doesn’t arise. Nature is always interested in taking the whole of humanity along, not just a few great men and women. Sri Aurobindo stated ‘Spirituality is India’s only Politics, the fulfillment of Sanathana Dharma is the only Swaraj’. This is what was conveyed to Sri Aurobindo.

True Swatantrata is rooted in our Sanathana Dharma.  Sri Aurobindo felt that the parliamentary form of Govt. was unsuitable for India and asked the people to explore a relevant system. Sri Aurobindo strongly felt that the Indian Ethos was missed out in Indian Democracy and the core governance which we adopted after 1947 was inappropriate. He emphasized that India should evolve its own Path. Sri Aurobindo thought about India’s education, agriculture, and polity over a hundred years ago. He said ‘The soul of Hinduism languishes in an unhealthy body, we need to make India United and One. The division between India and Pakistan will also go down eventually. Sri Aurobindo visualized that God has chosen India to lead the World. India is the future. Dr. Ananda Reddy suggested that the Topic of the seminar should be `Sri Aurobindo India’ and not as mentioned `Sri Aurobindo and India’; Sri Aurobindo termed India as His Mother.

Prof Makarand Paranjape who talked about ‘Bhavani – Bharathi: Sri Aurobindo’s Zeitgeist of the Nation’, said we have the unique privilege of celebrating the unique and wonderful conjecture, India@75, and Sri Aurobindo@150. Prof Paranjape stated that Sri Aurobindo in his thoughts reflected on the ‘Deva-sangha’, with a collective consciousness and formlessness devoid of sectarianism, and in his ‘The 5 dreams’ talks of the spirit of the nation, as well as the nation of the spirit. In spirit, we are all one, harmonizing all species on earth. Human evolution and consciousness revolution is incumbent upon us at this point in time. The nation of spirit is all of manava jathi, the whole of humanity.

Swaraat- Viraat: The Vedic idea – Swarajya Sukta from Rig-Veda, Chandogya, Kathopanishad, and other Upanishads state the ideas of Swaraat – and we can see it in the glorious traditions of our Rajarshis- Janaka, Ajathashatru, etc, and that idea of Swaraat are indeed Viraat. Sri Aurobindo elaborated on the idea of Swaraj in 1906 at Nashik, ‘Swaraj is life, Amrit and salvation, it’s the breath of life and Swaraj is the life of the nation’.

Our knowledge needs strength or Shakti to save us. Sanathana spirit requires a new strong body in the era of technology and digitization. Bhakti without Shakti is not sufficient. Strength is life, weakness is death.  Freedom is the law of the soul. Unfortunately, power operates through coercion and control, we have to resist it. Dr. Paranjape said that the sense of historic destiny of the Indian nation has very much permeated Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts and writings. When Sanathana Dharma or Spiritual Nationalism declines, the nation declines. He said revisiting `Sri Aurobindo’s magnificent `Bhavani Bharati’ will enable us to work towards the unfinished business of India’s Renaissance.

Sri Ayush Nadimpalli, General Secretary of Samachara Bharati, and Samvit Kendra chaired the Post-lunch session. He remarked that Indian Arts and Aesthetics represent the Bharati aspect of the very same glorious Bhavani-Bharati tradition.

Dr. Beloo Mehra from Auroville made a presentation on ‘Indian Artistic and Literary Culture in the Light of Sri Aurobindo’. The session on Indian Arts and Aesthetics was a `multi-sensory’ experience, with beautiful pictures and paintings. ‘Raso Vai Sah- verily He is the delight’- Sri Aurobindo is said to have remarked when asked about his humor and wit. Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Renaissance in India’ discusses Indian Sculpture, Temple Architecture, and paintings including Ajantha. ‘The highest purpose of Indian art at its greatest is to disclose something of Self, the Infinite, and the Divine to the regard of the soul says, Sri Aurobindo. He said ‘Reality for its own sake is the Tyranny of the Eye, similarly ‘Beauty for the sake of beauty is the Tyranny of aesthetic imagination. Art according to him is Yoga for the Artist.

Sri J. Nanda Kumar of Pragna Pravah talked about ‘Swatantrata’ relying on Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo believed that the Awakening of India should happen in moral and spiritual ways, and not just mechanically. Swatantra should not be by limiting ourselves to changing the Government only. However, political spiritualization was only one part, ideal way involves the infusion of Dharma into all walks of life- Political, Social, Arts, Literature, etc. Our Sanatan Dharma is not only our National religion but also the Universal religion. In his ‘Awakening of India’ Sri Aurobindo says that independence is not just a political change of Govt. but the awakening of the soul of the nation. The spirit of Sanathana Dharma has to mold all walks of life, which is actually true independence. The Bengal partition by the British, `Vanga-bhanga’ of 1905, saw the uprising of Bharat singing Vande Mataram- the  ‘Swa’ of Bharat was the clarion call that forced the British to reverse the partition.  Rabindranath Tagore praised Maa Bharati as a Yogini.

Unfortunately after 1912, the nationalistic spirit of Vandemataram was diluted in the 1930s and the ideologies of socialism and communism dominated the minds of our national leadership in 1923 Kakinada AICC session didn’t allow the singing of Vande Mataram, Nanada Kumar lamented.

The real freedom fighters and icons like Alluri Sitaramaraju, and Velu Nachiyar were sidelined and ignored. Presently, the Amrit Mahotsav @75  is an opportunity to pay our gratitude to the forgotten heroes. Sri Aurobindo’s Uttarapada speech stood for spiritual democracy and nationalistic fervor. He declared Sanathana Dharma as our nationalism.

Sri Aurobindo stated that despite the emergence of brahmins as a knowledgeable class, India never slid into a theocracy as in the West; it is significant that above the Brahmins and Kshatriya kings, were Rishis who belonged to all communities. Kings were aided by advisory councils, the kings’ powers were never absolute. Dharma remained the basic principle of life equally applicable to kings as well as society. The impersonal sovereign sacred authority was always Dharma. Critics of Indian culture never accepted Indian antiquity, whereas Bharat was always supreme in its integral Sciences, Arts and Philosophies. All arts were always a manifestation and blessing of Maa Saraswathi. The division of Bharat in 1947 was addressed only by the Trikala-darshi Maharshi Sri Aurobindo, and he expressed the hope that this land will unite again, he said ‘partition of the country must and will go.

In the concluding remarks, Sri Ayush Nadimpalli said we must ponder over what happened during 1912-1947 and accordingly strive for unification of Bharat and recommended Sri Aurobindo’s “Renaissance of India” to understand the spirit of nationalism.

Towards the end of sessions, Q&A was taken up. It was expressed that if Sanskrit has become National Language in the place of Hindi, there would have been continuity in Indic Studies and the fate of Bharat would have been glorious. But sadly, the National Leadership ignored it. Sri Aurobindo always articulated about the Akhand Bharat and undoing the Partition.

 Dr. Chhalamayi Reddy made an appeal to include-Aurobindo Studies in mainstream academia and informed us, that the Institute of Human Study has been organizing various programs toward the realization of the Ideals of Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Giridharan from Pragna Bharati magazine proposed the Vote of Thanks.