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The false choice: reject or be annexed (part 2) – Govind Nishar

by on May 15, 2012

Please read part I of the post here: LINK

In the previous part we had, at some length, refuted the misuse of Sri Aurobindo’s Words by Heehsian Western supremacists associated with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to support their personal prejudices and phobias about Indian spirituality. In this part we take a closer look at their misuse of the following words of The Mother to try and support the same fallacious and misleading untruth:

(The outline of a study project “On the Spiritual History of India” was read to the Mother. She commented:)

No! It won’t do. It is not to be done that way. You should begin with a big BANG!

You were trying to show the continuity of history, with Sri Aurobindo as the outcome, the culmination. It is false entirely. Sri Aurobindo does not belong to history; he is outside and beyond history.

Till the birth of Sri Aurobindo, religions and spiritualities were always centred on past figures, and they were showing as “the goal” the negation of life upon earth. So, you had a choice between two alternatives: either

—a life in this world with its round of petty pleasures and pains, joys and sufferings, threatened by hell if you were not behaving properly, or

—an escape into another world, heaven, nirvana, moksha…. Between these two there is nothing much to choose, they are equally bad.

Sri Aurobindo has told us that this was a fundamental mistake which accounts for the weakness and degradation of India. Buddhism, Jainism, Illusionism were sufficient to sap all energy out of the country.

True, India is the only place in the world which is still aware that something else than Matter exists. The other countries have quite forgotten it: Europe, America and elsewhere…. That is why she still has a message to preserve and deliver to the world. But at present she is splashing and floundering in the muddle.

Sri Aurobindo has shown that the truth does not lie in running away from earthly life but in remaining in it, to transform it, divinise it, so that the Divine can manifest HERE, in this PHYSICAL WORLD.

You should say all this at the first sitting. You should be square and frank… like that! (With her hands Mother makes a big square sign on the table.)

Then, when this is told, strongly, squarely, and there is no doubt about it—and then only—you can go on and amuse them with the history of religions and religious or spiritual leaders.

Then—and then only—you will be able to show the seed of weakness and falsehood that they have harboured and proclaimed.

Then—and then only—you will be able to discern, from time to time, from place to place, an “intuition” that something else is possible; in the Vedas, for instance (the injunction to descend deep into the cave of the Panis); in the Tantras also… a little light is burning.

First and foremost let us observe that these Words of the Mother were spoken in the context of Her critiquing the outline of a study project that (in Her own Words) is “trying to show the continuity of history, with Sri Aurobindo as the outcome, the culmination.

In response to this the Mother makes a powerful declaration that “Sri Aurobindo does not belong to history; he is outside and beyond history.

Coming specifically to the history of religions and spiritualities, She states in no uncertain terms the fundamental distinction between Sri Aurobindo and all the other-wordly religions and spirituality that preceded Him, all of which agreed upon the final goal of human life as “an escape into another world, heaven, nirvana, moksha“. The alternative to escape, as per these religions and spiritualities, is “a life in this world with its round of petty pleasures and pains, joys and sufferings threatened by hell if you were not behaving properly”. The mother qualifies either alternative as equally bad.

The question is whether this means that the Mother is here advocating a rejection of Indian spirituality in toto, as is claimed by those who have themselves, out of egoistic prejudice, done the same? Or is the problem with what She calls “the seed of weakness and falsehood that they have harboured and proclaimed“? One could restate the problem as trying to determine whether Mother is asking here to throw the baby out (surely all spirituality, and not just the Indian variety, is still a little baby in relation to Mother Sri Aurobindo :-)) along with the bath-water of world-negation. Such a prescription would come as beautiful music to the ear of the Western materialist, as it naturally does to our Heehsian religionist friends.

Unfortunately for our friends the very next statement dashes all their hopes to the ground with the Mother clarifying that of all nations India ONLY at least “is still aware that something else than Matter exists” and that is why she still has a message to preserve and deliver to the world“. It would be lunacy to conclude that preserving something and delivering it to the world is the same as rejecting it. Even here our Mother does not reject Indian spirituality but remonstrates with it for its errors which are what She wants us to throw out with absolute ruthlessness. These are the errors that She Herself regrets as “a fundamental mistake which accounts for the weakness and degradation of India“. Behind these words one detects, not the harsh and cruel condemnation of a materialist negationism, but the love and the concern of the World-Mother for her chosen land, words that reflect the following from Sri Aurobindo:

Yes, a new harmony, but not the scrannel pipes of European materialism, not an Occidental foundation upon half truths and whole falsehoods. When there is destruction, it is the form that perishes, not the spirit—for the world and its ways are forms of one Truth which appears in this material world in ever new bodies…. In India, the chosen land, [that Truth] is preserved; in the soul of India it sleeps expectant on that soul’s awakening, the soul of India leonine, luminous, locked in the closed petals of the ancient lotus of love, strength and wisdom, not in her weak, soiled, transient and miserable externals. India alone can build the future of mankind.

The key to rightly understand the whole passage is given by the Mother here: “Buddhism, Jainism, Illusionism were sufficient to sap all energy out of the country.” This truth is rounded off by Her in the concluding remark: “Then—and then only—you will be able to discern, from time to time, from place to place, an “intuition” that something else is possible; in the Vedas, for instance (the injunction to descend deep into the cave of the Panis); in the Tantras also… a little light is burning.

Here we are told exactly why the Mother criticizes the turn towards escapism as being equally as bad as the choice to maintain “a life in this world” marked by its littleness and its near insignificant value for anything beyond just egoistic self-existence. The Mother does so not out of disdain for India or Indian spirituality but, on the contrary, out of concern for India and the degradation she has had to suffer as a result. To refute the misinterpretation of the Mother’s Words it is necessary to keep a firm hold on the context in which nirvana etc. are criticized by Her, and this context is an outline of a study project on the spiritual history of India. However “good” these realizations may be for individuals, in the context of the spiritual history of India this “spirituality of escapism” has ultimately proved to be disastrous.

This is again reflected in the following words from Sri Aurobindo:

“Ancient or pre-Buddhistic Hinduism sought Him both in the world and outside it; it took its stand on the strength and beauty and joy of the Veda, unlike modern or post-Buddhistic Hinduism which is oppressed with Buddha’s sense of universal sorrow and Shankara’s sense of universal illusion,—Shankara who was the better able to destroy Buddhism because he was himself half a Buddhist. Ancient Hinduism aimed socially at our fulfilment in God in life, modern Hinduism at the escape from life to God. The more modern ideal is fruitful of a noble and ascetic spirituality, but has a chilling and hostile effect on social soundness and development; social life under its shadow stagnates for want of belief and delight, sraddha and ananda. If we are to make our society perfect and the nation is to live again, then we must revert to the earlier and fuller truth.”

It is clear that Mother Sri Aurobindo do not REJECT Indian spirituality but simply the giant errors that crept into it. Finally the Mother even states:

“Sri Aurobindo has shown that the truth does not lie in running away from earthly life but in remaining in it, to transform it, divinise it, so that the Divine can manifest HERE, in this PHYSICAL WORLD.

You should say all this at the first sitting. You should be square and frank… like that! (With her hands Mother makes a big square sign on the table.)

Then, when this is told, strongly, squarely, and there is no doubt about it—and then only—you can go on and amuse them with the history of religions and religious or spiritual leaders.”

It becomes clear from this that the problem is not with presenting any kind of relation or connection between Sri Aurobindo and the spiritual history of India. Rather the problem lies in presenting the WRONG RELATION, or a misrepresentation of the TRUE RELATION between the two. The Mother clarifies that Sri Aurobindo had not come as a mere continuation of the past spirituality, He does not stand for a borrowed and moribund recapitulation of earlier spiritual truths and efforts, along with their abysmal errors. Indeed He is “outside and beyond history” and represents “a decisive action direct from the Supreme“. This is what She wants the author of this outline to convey to readers, and not the outright rejection of all Indian spirituality, indeed of ALL spirituality itself that preceded Sri Aurobindo, since that is what She refers to in the passage cited.

If this is the obvious and evident meaning of what Mother says how does the attempt by the misleading spokespersons of a dominant Western liberalism measure up to these words from the Mother? Are they right in rejecting Indian spirituality, the most well-recognized symbol and figure of which tradition they casually label “a native taxi-driver”?

For this we have to turn to the Mother again:

“In the eternity of becoming, each Avatar is only the announcer, the forerunner of a more perfect realisation. And yet men have always the tendency to deify the Avatar of the past in opposition to the Avatar of the future. Now again Sri Aurobindo has come announcing to the world the realisation of tomorrow; and again his message meets with the same opposition as of all those who preceded him. But tomorrow will prove the truth of what he revealed and his work will be done.”

Even more false is it to “un-deify” or “humanize” the Avatar of the future IN OPPOSITION to the Avatar of the past and to attempt to separate Him from the line of Avatars and to digest Him into the reigning Western materialist world-order. This is what these ideologues are bent on doing, tearing away here and slashing away there in order to try and absolutely separate Mother Sri Aurobindo from Indian spirituality.

Far worse and unforgivable is their blind, fanatical devotion to and fervent promotion of a point of view which renders Sri Aurobindo a total prisoner of history. This is in DIRECT OPPOSITION AND REVOLT to the truth revealed by the Mother here that “Sri Aurobindo does not belong to history; he is outside and beyond history.” For what is the verdict of Heehsian “scholarship” on the a-historicity of Sri Aurobindo? It is simply that Sri Aurobindo was nothing more than a human, i.e. a genius, a freak of nature, a PRODUCT OF HISTORY AND THE PAST, of his family genes i.e. a physical/material/biological determinism. It is almost like playing a crude joke on Sri Aurobindo by saying that “YOU yourself are merely a product of physical/material evolution, leave alone the tall claims of having descended from on high to further some sort of immaterial, and thus unverifiable, SPIRITUAL evolution of some undetectable Divine Consciousness “. This point of view delegitimizes and strongly disputes the Mother’s claim of Sri Aurobindo’s a-historicity.

So here is the final and awful truth. It is in fact the fanatical followers of Heehs that are trying not only to ANNEX Sri Aurobindo but also to “murder in cold print” the living Divine Truth, crushing it under dead materialist debris via their spurious scholarship and their rationalist/materialist Heehsian religion. If anyone is trying to entrap Sri Aurobindo in history it is they with their theory of the genetic origin of Sri Aurobindo’s “genius” that reduces Sri Aurobindo to a mere freak of nature (PRAKRITI). This directly contradicts the spiritual truth of an extra-ordinary, a-historical life and birth of the Supreme Soul (PARMATMA), a life and a birth whose aeonic recurrence is recognized only by Indian spirituality as “Avatarhood”. This is exactly what the Mother means when She proclaims Sri Aurobindo’s a-historicity.

One might ask what is the point of all this long explanation in calling out the falsehood behind attempts to separate Sri Aurobindo from Indian spirituality. This is not just a question of  defending the great truth of the intimate relation between the two. In the immediate context of the current controversy over the TLOSA book it also reveals the nefarious modus operandi of the Heehsian propagandists. Not only do these purveyors of falsehood project their own prejudices and fears onto Mother Sri Aurobindo but they also project their own cardinal faults and failings onto their opponents. While they themselves are parasitical xenophobes, looking down on the land that has embraced them and detesting the spiritual tradition that is its living essence and its very life-blood,  they coolly turn around and condemn their opponents as xenophobes. While they are the ones trying to annex Sri Aurobindo to their own ideological prejudices and phobias they will first take care to accuse their opponents of doing the same so that these will be shamed into silence or at least discredited by others. Finally, to cover their own fundamentalist adherence to Heehs and his book, they will label all his critics as fundamentalists for their faithful adherence to Mother Sri Aurobindo.

Engaged in all-round betrayal of everything they verbally profess, projecting onto their opponents the crooked tendencies they themselves harbor, these promoters of Heehs and the servants of the Ashram Managing Trustee would exile it’s Soul from the Ashram and fill the remaining vacuum with a triumphant anti-divine Western materialist intellectualism and a one-man authoritarianism.

Govind Nishar

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