MANOJ DAS pays tribute to Sri Aurobindo on his 127th
birth anniversary today.
If mankind only caught a glimpse of what infinite
enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge,
what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal
evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all and never rest till they
had gained these treasures. But the way is narrow, the doors are hard to force,
and fear, distrust and scepticism are there, sentinels of Nature, to forbid the
turning away of our feet from her ordinary pastures.
Sri Aurobindo, Thoughts and Aphorisms
THE departing century leaves behind a vision of human
destiny which is, probably, optimism.But can optimism be subject to scrutiny by
our intellect? This depends on the scope we grant to intellect, heeding this
warning: "We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of
course, powerful muscles, but no personality." (Einstein: Out Of My Later
The intellect, tempered a bit by humility, can go a
long way in appreciating Sri Aurobindo's vision. Indeed, the most significant
discoveries of modern science instruct us to be humble. Take for example the
grand unified theory of Nature, recreating for us the good old concept of the
Brahman the one and indivisible reality: "Without electromagnetism there
would be no atoms, no chemistry or biology, and no heat or light from the sun.
If there were no strong nuclear force then nuclei could not exist, and so again
there would be no atoms or molecules, no chemistry or biology, nor would the sun
and stars be able to generate heat and light from nuclear energy. Even the weak
force plays a crucial role in shaping the universe. If it did not exist, the
nuclear reactions in the sun and stars could not proceed, and supernovae would
probably not occur, and the vital life-giving heavy elements would therefore be
unable to permeate the universe. Life might well be impossible. When we remember
that these four very different types of force, each one vital for generating the
complex structures that make our universe so active and interesting, all derive
from a single, simple superforce, the ingenuity of it all literally boggles the
mind." (Paul Davies: Super Force).
Does this the mind-boggling superforce at work in this
universe have a scheme to execute on the earth through the process of evolution?
Sri Aurobindo's perception is, it has. The biological
concept of evolution, of course, does not go further than stating a phenomenon.
Sri Aurobindo reinterprets it in the Vedantic light: if life evolved out of
matter, and mind out of life, it was because life was already involved in matter
and mind was involved in life. If that is so, there is no reason why a principle
loftier than mind but involved in mind, could not evolve, changing or transform
mankind into a new race, the Supramental.
Mankind, at present, is going through an evolutionary
crisis, he says. Mind has given man all it could in terms of knowledge, science,
technology and has added as much as it could to his search for happiness. At the
same time it has landed him in an impasse marked by paradox. Far from feeling
that he had "arrived", man rather feels lost amidst his monumental
achievements in technology and lifestyles, polity and politics.
The destination, at this rate, cannot but be the abyss,
unless man is rescued by the intervention of a new consciousness.
For this man must cultivate an aspiration; he must
liberate himself from his bondage to ego and ignorance from his animal
inheritance of instincts and passions masked by civilization.
But man need not despair, for, in a sense, the process
of evolution itself is a process of this liberation. The appearance of the
earliest forms of life as plants out of the apparently lifeless matter was a
step towards the liberation of the imprisoned consciousness. A far greater
degree of freedom of consciousness - and an exercise of that freedom in
infinitely different ways - was possible with the emergence of the primeval
creatures, from worms, insects, butterflies and td the birds to the whales and
Needless to say, man is the only creature who has never
stopped growing. With relentless zeal not only has be adapted himself to the
changing environment, but has also made the environment meet his demands.
Emerging from the world of primeval Nature he has created for himself new worlds
of art, architecture, literature, music, philosophy and of a perennial quest for
the meaning of life.
Thus, if the process of evolution itself is a movement
of consciousness realising its own freedom from its bondage to material and
other limitations, the 20th Century has witnessed the most momentous events and
ideas ensuring greater freedom for man in several fronts. It saw the collapse of
imperialism, colonialism, monarchy and feudalism - all paving the way for man's
social, political and economic freedom. Democracy, socialism, 'emancipation' of
women from age-old taboos and discrimination, end of apartheid - all point in
the same direction.
But the greatest of all freedom is yet to be achieved -
our freedom from ignorance. Sri Aurobindo believes that this last freedom is not
a mere possibility, but a certainty inherent in the very nature of the
evolutionary process of human destiny.
THOU ART MAN AND THE WHOLE NATURE OF MAN
IS TO BECOME MORE THAN HIMSELF."