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India should wake To the hour of God
By Francois Gautier


THERE is sadness today in India, after the terrible earthquake, which took so many lives. It is said that when so many people die a violent, sudden death at the same time, their sufferings and cries create sorrow in the atmosphere, which is so palpable that you can feel it thousands of kilometers away. But it is more than that: It was the 26th January, India's Republic day. India had reason to celebrate, as after so many centuries of degradation, it may be on the verge of a Renaissance, spiritual and physical, of a gradual flowering back of some of the greatness of ancient Bharat, of maturing again into a great civilisation which once more will radiate towards Asia and the world.

Naipaul called India a wounded civilization, and rightly so. India, the mother of all civilizations, has been wounded so many times already: nobody will ever understand the unspeakable barbarism that foreign invasions did to India; how many times India had been on the edge, on the verge of losing her soul, whether at the hands of colonialism, by the betrayal of her own people, or the stifling influence of modernity. India was caught unawares on this 26th January. Accidents sometimes happen, in the face of which even God may be helpless, as Sri Aurobindo says in Savitri: "An idiot hour destroys what centuries made". Was this earthquake such an an idiot accident, wounding India in her heart at a moment when she was riding high?

As Sri Aurobindo says again, "There are moments in the Hour of God, when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the weakness of their own egoism." The first are periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny. Has India come at such a crossroads of her civilisation ? It does indeed look as if everything has been given to her so that she not only survives but also makes the progress necessary to again become a great nation, socially and economically, redeem within herself her ancient spirituality and gift it to the West which today finds itself rootless and lost in a soulless modernity. But to do so, India needs leaders who will have the vision and the courage to take bold decisions; it needs also the assent and the collaboration of all its citizens. Can she do it?

She should, as God has given Her a helping hand: a new leadership perhaps more in tune with her ancient spirituality and imbued with a vision of what India can be; a new millennium, where everything is possible; good conditions with a growing economy and competent people, who are today the best software programmers in the world, a must in the coming Information Age. And overall, it is very rare in the history of humanity that so many sages and avatars be born at the same time, as they have been born in India in the last two hundred years : from Vivekananda to Sri Aurobindo, from Ananda Mai to Ammachi, from Sai Baba to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

However, the real question today is: Will India be faithful to her dharma? Will India heed the call? Listen again to Sri Aurobindo : "Unhappy is the man, or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss, or a great destruction". India and Indians have the great opportunity now to collaborate with the Future and with the Force that beckons them. It is possible that India may not fully rise to the occasion, that its leaders are scared to take bold decisions, that its people are not united enough, that India is letting the Ganges be polluted beyond salvation, its forests shrink, and might be losing its soul to globalisation.

This earthquake then is more than a black karma: it is a warning that the time has come for India to put its act together. And the sadness can act as a lever for a more powerful realisation. Today, not only the whole of India is grieving for Gujarat, but maybe for the first time since the British left, a feeling of fellowship, which cuts across religions, has awakened amongst Indians here and abroad.


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