Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Interview with Prof. Manoj Das

(In an interview, Prof. Manoj Das expanded on his own belief system and Sri Aurobindo's thoughts for mankind.)

Of all the philosophies of India, why choose Sri Aurobindo?

He attracted me because of his belief that the present status of man is not the acme of evolution. As I delved deeper into Sri Aurobindo's works, I realized that though suffering is bitter, it is an intermediary process through which man grows.

What do you find most appealing in Sri Aurobindo's thought?

Sri Aurobindo brings in a touch of fulfillment. He sees man not only as what he is, but also as what he could be.

Sri Aurobindo talked about an evolution, which leads to the ''triumph of spirit over matter''. How do you see that?

It is decisive, but nobody can predict it. It all depends upon human receptivity, human willingness to transcend the present limitations and man's preparedness to be disillusioned about his own hypocrisies. It is not a question of an individual transcending; it is the question of humanity transcending.

What would be the features of Superman?

Man will be in a position to enjoy the qualities, which he has been dreaming of since time immemorial. In Life DivineSri Aurobindo defines five goals that mankind is striving to achieve since the dawn of his consciousness: God, light, freedom, bliss and immortality. The supramental man will be in possession of these five goals.

Sri Aurobindo used to believe that man could achieve these goals while maintaining this physical form?

Yes, that is unique to Sri Aurobindo. The response from the Divine is called descent, and Sri Aurobindo was doing his tapasya (meditation, spiritual practice or work) for making that descent possible. That has happened at an occult plane. Even the process of transformation of the present humanity has already begun but is invisible and unknown to man.

Why are most Indians unaware of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, although he is popular abroad?

In India, there is a dearth of philosophers and mystics, and we are so stuck with conventional ideas that we can't pay due attention to Sri Aurobindo. But gradually, more Indians are becoming conscious of his greatness.

How do you conceive the future? How can India contribute to the evolutionary process?

I am optimistic about the future. India can contribute to the transformation process by itself following this path, opening up spiritually, and transcending religious creeds. Spirituality is the spirit of the future. India has to become more aware of Sri Aurobindo's vision for there is a great tradition of spiritual receptivity in India. Once they become conscious of Sri Aurobindo, that will be their greatest contribution to the transformation of the world.

Sri Aurobindo used to maintain that the knowledge contained in the Vedas regarding science and technology was lost in later works. How is a revival of the Vedic sciences going to help India?

Vedas are the revelations of human consciousness. Sri Aurobindo had said that India had all the potentiality of scientific advancement, but it went the wrong way. The philosophy of illusionism, that practical life is maya (illusion), sabotaged the whole process of India's integral development. Those who took spirituality as asceticism became a class apart; others who could not afford to leave this world took themselves as doomed to be prisoners of Maya. This dichotomy between a life of spirituality and the worldly life is the greatest danger that India has ever experienced. 

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