Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baba Ramdev visits Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who was in Puducherry on a private visit, said that there was a need to bring divinity to politics to effect big changes.
Talking to reporters after having a “darshan” at Aurobindo Ashram on Tuesday morning, he said people needed at least 100 MPs with divinity in the parliament to bring about changes in politics, eradicate corruption and unearth black money. He said that people with similar views needed to emerge to provide a new alternative, and to make changes possible.
Asked whether he would oppose Congress in the 2014 parliamentary elections the guru, who participated in the agitations against corruption with civil society leader Anna Hazare, said, “If it is felt by the people that Congress rule is the pinnacle of corruption, then we will oppose the party.”
Earlier, when asked about the purpose of the visit he said, “Almost 25 years ago I heard about Sri Aurobindo from my guru and I was attracted to his teaching ‘the whole life is a yoga.’ I have travelled around the globe, but this is the first time that I have come for a darshan here.”
The yoga guru said that he was committed in taking Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, political, social and economic visions to the people.
“I may take years to do this, but I have decided to commit my life for this,” he said.
Baba said Puducherry was “Athmeeka Bhoomi” (spiritual land) because Sri Aurobindo lived here. Baba Ramdev had darshan at Sri Aurobido’s samadhi and the rooms of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Later, like any other devotee, he lunched at the ashram dining hall, along with other visitors to the ashram.
Later, Ramdev said that many people from the UT had approached him to begin an ayurvedic centre here and added that heeding to the requests he would soon begin an ayurvedic centre here as desired by his followers.
Baba had visited Matri Mandir and Auroville on Monday.

Deepak Chopra on "States of Consciousness"

   “In India, one of the greatest seers of the twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo, said that

because we are in 
a very early stage of human evolution, most of us experience only the first three states of consciousness: sleeping, dreaming, and wakefulness. Eventually we will recognize and understand the more expanded states of consciousness, and when we do, such concepts as synchronicity, telepathy, clairvoyance, and knowledge of  past lives will become commonly accepted.”

- Deepak Chopra, Synchro Destiny, pp. 253-254

"All living cells have a cellular consciousness and are able to communicate with other
cells of the same or other species even when they are a distance apart."
- Deepak Chopra, Synchro Destiny, pp. 55-56

Monday, February 18, 2013

"The Mother's Evolutionary Vision" by Peter Heehs

Courtesy: "Enlighten Next" Magazine, Issue 47, 2011

Aurobindo admirer

Rajib Roy met American historian Peter Heehs during his visit to Shillong
 WHILE GRADUATING in a college in Philadelphia, the idea of Vedanta and general spiritual thinking started making sense to American historian Peter Heehs. He was in Shillong for a seminar – Interrelation between Sanskrit and Indian culture with special reference to Sri Aurobindo – jointly organized by New Delhi-based Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and the city based Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture (SAIIC) on its campus. His paper was on Aurobindo as a forward looking traditionalist.
     Addressing a select group at Asian Confluence in Laitumkhrah, Heehs said how he was influenced by Aurobindo’s philosophy, which made him visit Pondicherry for the first time in 1971 at age 22 and making Sri Aurobindo Ashram there his home for more than 40 years now.
     Asian Confluence is an initiative to promote an open space for creating a better understanding of the northeastern region. It is a space for cultural and intellectual exchange, which acts as a hub for civil society initiatives and is the brainchild of Sabyasachi Dutta, son of former Shillong parliamentarian BB Dutta.
     Heehs was born in Illinois and spent most of his boyhood in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey before coming to India. He developed an interest in India after coming across Indian swamis, spiritual gurus and sitar exponent Ravi Shankar in Philadelphia. He then got associated with Indian Cultural Centre in New York where the in-charge was an India-enchanted French lady. “I read about Aurobindo and made up my mind to visit Pondicherry. There I was entrusted with setting up the archives of Aurobindo’s works,” said Heehs.
     Heehs’ works fall into four categories – studies of the life and thought of Aurobindo, history of modern India, history of Indian philosophy and religion, general historiography and the history of ideas. He has authored several books and is being acclaimed as an outstanding authority of Aurobindo and Divine Mother’s vision and thoughts. He has a permanent residency stay visa sponsored by the Ashram.
     Working at this archive was a learning process for Heehs as he was involved in identifying and sequencing the personal manuscripts of Aurobindo helping him get a close look at the life of the great yogi. “I was given work under Jayantilal Parekh, a longtime disciple of Aurobindo and his French collaborator, the Mother (Mirra Alfassa). In 1973, the Mother authorized Jayantilal to set up an archive and research library as a department of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I was among those who were given the task of building up the resources of this institution. Jayantilal asked me to collect biographical material from the National Archives of India, the Baroda Record Office, the West Bengal State Archives and other places in India,” he said.
     Heehs who later continued this work at archives and libraries in the UK, France, USA and Bangladesh said, “This was my initiation into biographical and historical research. At the same time my colleagues and I were completing an inventory of the manuscripts of Aurobindo. We made sequences of the books and his personal manuscripts and discovered that like Bhabani Bharati, which was talked upon largely in the seminar, much had not yet been published and we launched the semi-annual journal Aurobindo: Archives of Research, in which we brought out some of these new materials along with biographical documents and research articles. This journal ran from 1977 to 1994, after which we began work on The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.”
     But collecting material for setting up this archive was not an easy task as Heehs had to gather data about Aurobindo’s political career for which he had to make a study of the Indian freedom movement in general in order to place his contribution in context. However, this research has served a dual purpose for him because apart from material collection for the archives it also resulted in several books published by different university presses, as well as numerous articles published in historical journals and magazines.
     The study and research undertaken by Heehs also gave him a deep insight into Indian spirituality, religions and traditions. He found that although Aurobindo’s teaching was not a religion, it draws on various spiritual traditions, especially the Vedanta tradition of India as preserved in the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, and the earlier Vedic tradition. “Following his lead, I studied the texts of these traditions in English translation and to some extent in the original Sanskrit. This reading led me to the texts of other spiritual traditions as well. Although uninterested in conventional religion, I found much of interest in writings that are usually regarded as religious, and I wrote several articles and one book on Indian religious traditions,” he said.
     Aurobindo referred to western science monolithic knowledge and yet at the same time he would refer to Indian model predated to the western models, such as Sankhya, Tanrtra evolutionary development then he took the model of the ten avatars of Vishnu as evolution not to side of western authority but to do with an ancient Indian model. “So it is a kind of mixture of both, taking the idea of Vedanta and giving it an evolutionary dynamism. He was a synthetic thinker and so his approach,” he said.
     However, Heehs was completely surprised by the quality of Aurobindo’s works as the yogi did so much of writing and learning. “He (Aurobindo) was not only a man who sat down with a pen and wrote the stuff out but if you look at his manuscripts there was no cutting marks as everything from start to finish was fresh. To put it in a nutshell in between 1920-21, he started a monthly journal Arya of which all the 64 pages were handwritten in immaculate texts as he had greater fluency in writing English besides he was simultaneously working on his various other disciplines, such as, The Life Divine, The Future Poetry, Translation of Vedas, The Ideal of Human Unity and more in addition to the 64 page monthly journal. He was incredible,” said Heehs adding he would start working again on Arya’s next edition.
     Heehs sported questions on his book “The Lives of Sri Aurobindo” that created controversy and a furor recently. He said that there is a small dissident group in Pondicherry Ashram which is always interested in discrediting the Ashram Trust and capture power and he being a foreigner with greater access to the archives and records and thereafter writing critically, became an automatic target of this dissident group.
     Heehs shared his experience of meeting the Mother a couple of times. His upcoming books are on encountering various problems of historiography in his research into India’s political and religious history. He has also published several articles on the subject in American and Indian journals.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hindi Translation of Barindra Kumar Ghose’s “The Tale of My Exile”


Are we facing an evolutionary crisis? by MANOJ DAS

Are we going to let technology shape our future? Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Are we going to let technology shape our future? Photo: K.K. Mustafah

It seems that the human race is beginning to lose its intellectual and emotional abilities.
Albert Einstein, in Out of My Later Years, warned us not to trust our intellect because it had no conscience though it had muscles. Those familiar with this warning will not be surprised by the thesis put forth by Dr. Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University in a recent issue of Trends in Genetics, suggesting that the human race had begun to lose its intellectual and emotional abilities. As expected, the scientist makes a brilliantly detached analysis of the situation in terms of genetics and mutations but leaves it to us to evaluate the socio-psychological consequences of his deduction that runs against the modern man’s self-assured complacency about his mind. But the suspicion that the attributes of mind — intellect, intelligence, wit, et al — are proving to be increasingly less dependable for the fundamental needs of life (peace, happiness and a certain stability of faith in the very purpose of life) has been felt for sometime now.
We have to focus on some developments within a wider range of life to appreciate this assumption: If two persons from the same milieu and more or less similar in everything and suffering from the same malady are treated with the same medical and psychiatric care, the signs of healing should be more or less the same. But it was observed that while one’s response to the treatment was along expected lines, the other staged an inexplicably sudden recovery. The regularly monitored physical and emotional reactions of both did not provide any clue for this phenomenon. The question several such cases raised was this: could our consciousness contain an unidentified faculty that responded in a positive way in the second case?
Several experiences of this nature, after thorough discussions on them by the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation at Geneva in 1978 as well as in its subsequent meetings, led it to pass a resolution at the 36th World Health Assembly 1983 to add to the prevailing scope and definition of health, which was “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being”; the factor of spirituality. Under the auspices of the WHO, the then chief of Health Services of the Government of India, Dr. D.B. Bisht and Director, NIMHANS, Dr. G.N. Reddy, convened a workshop at Bangalore, in February 1985, to assess this proposition in the Indian context. It was a an unpublicised brainstorming event in which 40 of the country’s leading medical practitioners, life-scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, jurists and a few students of the mystic lore (which included this author) participated. Although spirituality was an age-old concept, to determine its relevance to as down-to-earth a field as health, was a challenging exercise.
Concrete cases were cited that could lead to the hypothesis that deep within man a hitherto ignored constituent of consciousness was demanding recognition and its suppression could lead to several problems, mental, emotional and physical. What had been for ages an experience only with Yogis and mystics, an aspect of consciousness that was its very basis and which sustained the whole structure of our being despite its other constituents like mind and emotions constantly fighting among themselves, was probably at last trying to assert itself, slowly but surely, in the life of a greater number of people.
Hence the hypothesis: if polygraph, popularly known as the lie-detection test, leaves us in little doubt that there is a part of our consciousness that shrinks from falsehood – and the fact that despite all the deviations and aberrations, civilisations survive on the ideal of truth and values aligned with it — it should not appear unrealistic if the élan of evolution strove to bring to the forefront what is already involved in us — call it “Factor X” if not Soul. In the wake of Dr. Crabtree’s thesis the significant finding of a research conducted by the Notre Dame Professors of psychology, Anita Kelly and Lijuan Yang, has come to light. It claims that those who avoid speaking lies enjoy a better quality of health. Simply through a casually developed habit we utter lies — exaggerations included — most of which were unwarranted. The well-oriented and documented research shows that those who willed and stopped the habit got rid of a lot of irritating disorders.
The research only confirms what is an inborn knowledge with us: we unconsciously respect truth and honesty. We spontaneously exclaim with appreciation, “What an honest man is he!” We do not exclaim in the same spirit, “What a dishonest man is he!” Needless to say, truth and honesty are not the natural virtues of mind and its instrument, the intelligence. If we have to realise these goals, we have to surpass mind. According to Sri Aurobindo, “At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way.” Sri Aurobindo envisions a future when the mind could be transformed into a Supramental gnosis.
Dr. Crabtree’s thesis leaves us with a choice between two attitudes: we resign to a future when technology would mould our fate, our mind growing cipher, or we cultivate a collective aspiration to release what remains involved in our consciousness. To a professor who was logically convinced of Sri Aurobindo’s vision but wondered if the ugly man of today could really grow into something beautiful, a rustic school teacher told, “If a wonder like the lotus could bloom out of mud with the Sun’s Grace, why cant out of our muddy mind bloom the Supramental with the Divine’s Grace? We may replace Divine’s Grace with Evolutionary thrust, if we please.

Courtesy and Link:

Hindi Book on Sri Aurobindo

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