Patriot, Philosopher and Scholar, Ranganath Ramachandra Diwakar (b. 1894), an M.A., LL.B. of the Bombay University, is not only a politician with an impressive record of service, but one who exudes peace and learning. He started life as a school teacher and then a Professor of English; but was soon sucked up in the political maelstrom. Taking journalism, which is still among his abiding interests, in his stride he has been a no—tax campaigner, political prisoner, President of the Karnatak Pradesh Congress Committee, Member of the Constituent Assembly, Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the Government of India. (1948 to 1952) and Governor of Bihar (l952 to 1957).
A scholar both in Kannada and Sanskrit, his works in Kannada and English reflect his penetrating insight into philosophy, culture and yoga. A staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi and a close student and admirer of Sri Aurobindo from his school days, his books on the lives of Sri Aurobindo, Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna and Bhagwan Buddha in this series A have become extremely popular. The first one has also been translated in Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali.
Shri Diwakar’s present book is perhaps the most comprehensive review of the life and achievements of Sri Aurobindo published so far. Coming as it does from the pen of one who has been a devoted student not only of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, but our philosophy in general, the book has a value of its own.
THE Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan—that Institute of Indian culture in Bombay—needed a Book University, a series of books which, if read, would serve as a background to higher education. Particular emphasis, however, would be put on such literature as revealed the deeper impulsions of India. As a first step, it was decided to bring out in English 100 books, 50 of which were to be taken in hand almost at once. Each book was to contain from 200 to 250 pages.
It is the Bhavan’s intention to publish the books selected, not only in English, but also in the Indian languages; Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malaya- lam.
This scheme, involving the publication of 900 volumes, re• quires ample funds and an all—India organisation. The Bhavan is exerting its utmost to supply them.
The objectives for which the Bhavan stands are the re- integration of Indian culture in the light of modern knowledge to suit present-day needs, and resuscitation of its fundamental values in their pristine vigour.
Let, us make our aim more explicit.
We seek the dignity of man, which necessarily implies the creation of social conditions which will allow him freedom to evolve along the lines of his own temperament and capacities; we seek the harmony of individual efforts and social relations, not in any makeshift way, but within the frame—work of the Moral Order; we seek the creative art of life, by the alchemy of which human limitations are progressively transmuted, so that man may become a better instrument of God, and be able to see Him in all and all in Him.
The world, we feel, is too much with us. Nothing would up— lift or inspire us so much as the beauty and aspiration which good books can teach.
In this series, therefore, the literature of India, ancient and modern, will be published in a form easily accessible to all, Books in other literatures of the world, if they illustrate the principles we stand for, will also be included.
This common pool of literature, it is hoped, will enable the reader, Eastern or Western, to understand and appreciate cur— rents of world thou ht, as also the movements of the Mind in India, which, though it flows through different linguistic channels has a common urge and aspiration.
Fittingly, the Book University’s first venture is the Mahabharata, summarised- by one of the greatest living Indians, Sri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari; the second work is on a section of it, the Gita by Sir H. V. Divatia, an eminent jurist- and a student of philosophy. Centuries ago, it was proclaimed of the Muhabharata: ‘What is not in it, is nowhere.’ After twenty—five centuries we can use the same words about it. He who knows it not, knows not the heights and depths of the soul; he misses the trials and tragedy and the beauty and grandeur of life.
The Mahabharata is not merely an epic: it is a romance, telling the tale of heroic men and women and of some who were divine; it is a whole literature in itself, containing a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations, and speculative thought on human problems that is hard to rival; but,*above all, it has, for its core the Gita, which is, as the world is beginning to find out, the noblest of scriptures and the grandest of sagas in which the climax is reached in the wondrous Apocalypse in the Eleventh Canto.
Through such books alone the harmonies underlying true culture, we are convinced, will one day reconcile the disorders of modern life.
We thank all those who have helped to make this new branch of the Bhavan`s activity successful.
Tm; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is much indebted to its friend, Shri R. R: Diwakar, Governor of Bihar, for writing this valuable contribution to its Book University.
My own contact with Sri Aurobindo dates back to 1902 when, after matriculating, I joined the Baroda College. Though previously I had, only on occasions, had the privilege of being in personal contact with him, the _Aurobindonian legend in the College filled me with reverence, and it was with awe that I hung upon his words whenever he came to College as Professor of English. Subsequently, we students were to be inspired by the stories of his yogic development. The Bande Mataram which he edited was our inspiration for several years and in 1907 at the Surat meeting of the National Congress we were volunteers in the camp of the leaders, and then called "Extremists" of whom Aurobindo was one of the most inspiring.
I closely followed Aurobindo’s career during those stormy years, particularly when he was tried in the Alipore Bomb Case. His Uttarpara speech, delivered some days after, his acquittal, was a perennial source of inspiration to me; after he had re— tired to Pondicherry; I was for some years a constant reader of the Arya. It has not been possible for me to read all his published works, but whatever I have read has considerably influenced me.
My contact with Sri Aurobindo was resumed about 1945 through Dilip Kumar Roy and Sri A. B. Purani and l was privileged to receive his guidance on more than one occasion. A few months before he died, he accorded me the very rare privilege of a long interview at the Ashram.
Sri Aurobindo’s life and philosophy have many facets and it is impossible to do justice to his wondrous life, his profound and many—sided wisdom and achievements, not only in the field of politics, philosophy and religion, but in the higher world of the Spirit.
Aurobindo Ghose was the son of an anglicised Bengali. He received his preparatory education at a residential .European school in Darjeeling, and, from the age of seven, his primary, secondary, and university education, all in England, between 1879-1893. It was this young man who, in the nineties of the last century, when leading Indians looked upon British Rule as a gift of Providence, not only conceived the idea of Indian Independence, but took steps to achieve it. In spite of his being entirely foreign-bred, the Mother—-for, to him, India was the Mother—claimed him as her own and he became the prophet of our militant nationalism, spreading the cult of the "Eternal and Timeless India" among aspiring young men; founding revolutionary groups; reading an outspoken national wing to new ventures. Apart from secret sections founded and inspired by him, he attempted, though unsuccessfully, to convert the Indian National Congress into an instrument of revolutionary action. He gave to the country the programmes of non-cooperation, boycott of British goods, national schools as a substitute for Government• institutions, arbitration courts in place of the ordinary courts of law and volunteer organizations to prepare for mass action-a plan successfully adapted by Mahatma Gandhi in succeeding decades.
As far back as 1906, he wrote:
"A divine Power is behind the- movement; the Zeit-Geist, the Time—Spirit, is at work t-o bring about a mighty movement of which the world at the present juncture has need. That movement is the; resurgence of Asia, and the resurgence of India is not only a necessary part of the larger movement but its central need. India is the keystone of the arch, the chief in- heritress of the common Asiatic destiny... The idea of a free and united India has been born and grown to full stature in the land of the Rishis, and the spiritual force of a great civilization of which the world has need, is gathering at its beck.
We can all see that this prophecy is today being realised. His call to sacrifice was a new gospel; it thrilled us in the first decade of this century as nothing else did:
"Political freedom is the life-breath of a nation. Without it a nation cannot grow, cannot expand,. . .The work of national emancipation is a great and holy yajna of which boycott, Swadeshi, national education and every other activity, great and small, are only major and minor parts. Liberty is the fruit we seek from the sacrifice, and Motherland, the goddess to whom we offer it; into the seven leaping tongues of the fire of the yajna we must offer all that we are and all that we have, feeding the fire even with our blood and lives and happiness of our nearest and dearest; for the Motherland is the goddess who loves not a maimed and imperfect sacrifice, and freedom was never won from the gods by a grudging giver."
"Nationalism," he said, "is an Avatar and cannot be slain." Then came the Alipore trial and no estimate of what the country thought of Sri Aurobindo can be better expressed than in the eloquent words which Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das addressed to the court:
"Long after this controversy is hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, this agitation ceases, long after he is dead and gone, Aurobindo will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and as the lover of humanity... his words will be echoed and re—echoed not only in India but across distant seas and lands."
During the solitude of his jail—life, Sri. Aurobindo received the Mandate to be the instrument of the Divine Will and his Uttarpara speech is one of the finest expressions of a spirit which had outstripped the limitations of the ordinary mind. His new message can best” be summarised in his own words: "First therefore become Indians. Recover the patrimony of your forefathers. Recover the Aryan thought, the Aryan discipline, the Aryan character, the Aryan life. Recover the Vedanta, the Gita, the Yoga. Recover them not only in intellect or sentiment but in your lives."
From being an advocate of militant nationalism, Sri Aurobindo emerged as an apostle of Aryan culture, as one of the latest of a series of Masters which began with Vasistha and Vyasa.
On the eve of his retirement to Pondicherry in l9lO, Sri Aurobindo predicted that after a long period of war, world-wide upheaval and revolution, to begin 1n about four years, India would achieve her freedom.
At Pondicherry, the problem he set himself was how Divine Consciousness could be brought down, mobilized, organized and turned upon life.
At the same time, Sri Aurobindo became the greatest exponent of the Modern Indian Renaissance. He wrote on poetry, on art, on social life, on the progress of humanity. And on every subject he threw new light.
It is difficult to trace the life of the Yogi, but in his message to the country on the dawn of Freedom on August 15, 1947, Sri Aurobindo made a personal declaration of the aims and ideals he had conceived in his childhood and the fulfillment of which he had seen beginning:
"Those aims and ideals were, in their natural order these: a revolution which would achieve India’s freedom and her unity; the resurgence and liberation of Asia and her return to the great role which she had played in the progress of human civilization; the rise of a new, a greater,. brighter and nobler life for mankind which for its entire realisation would rest outwardly on an international unification of the separate existence of the peoples, preserving and securing their national life but drawing them together into an overriding and consummating oneness; the gift by India of her means for the spiritualisation of life to the whole race; finally, a new step in the evolution which, by uplifting the consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of the many problems of existence which have perplexed and vexed humanity, since men began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society."
These aims and ideals he followed throughout his life with unwavering steadfastness, universalising his mind, and attempting to secure the Descent of the Super mind, to uplift the world. It would be presumptuous of me to attempt to describe this great adventure in spiritual thought and experience. Suffice it to say that during the last century, there has not been another thinker of Sri Aurobindo's profundity or another yogi who fathomed so scrupulously the mysteries of life. Sri Aurobindo summarised the crisis through which humanity is passing in clear terms:
"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. A structure of the external life has been raised up by man’s ever—active mind and life-will, a structure of an unmanageable hugeness and complexity, for the service of his mental, vital, physical‘ claims and urges, a complex political, social, administrative, economic, cultural machinery, an organized collective means for his intellectual, sensational, aesthetic and material satisfaction. Man has created a system of civilization which has become too big for his limited mental capacity and understanding _and his still more limited spiritual and moral capacity to utilize and manage, a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and tits appetites. For no greater seeing mind, no intuitive soul of knowledge has yet come to his surface of consciousness which could make this basic fullness of life a condition for the free growth of something that exceeded it,. . .At the same time Science has put at his disposal many potencies of the universal Force and has made the life of humanity materially one; but what uses this universal Force is a little human individual or communal ego with no- thing universal in its light of knowledge or its movements, no inner sense or power which would create in this physical drawing together of the human world a true life unity, a mental unity or a spiritual oneness."
And he provided a solution. He has rightly stressed that a perfected human world cannot be created by men who are them- selves imperfect, and with equal emphasis he has declared the egocentric gospel of individual liberation.
What he sought to achieve was the emergence of divine life on earth, not the isolated self—realization of a few individuals, and if he sought divinization of the inner being, he also placed in the forefront the transformation of our whole environment. In his words—"To become ourselves is the one thing to be done; but the true ‘our self’ is that which is within us, and to exceed our outer self of body, life and mind is the condition for this highest being, which is our true and divine being, to become self-revealed and active." In The Human Cycle he prophesies the advent of a new age, when the world will be one and social conflicts and the bitterness of life will be no more a future to which man can look forward with hope and faith.
Sri Aurobindo presents mankind with a new hope and a new mission. He was the leader of the greatest revolt against scientific materialism which seeks to reduce man to the position of an insect. He gives a new direction to the destiny of man.
Sri Diwakar’s book is perhaps the most comprehensive re- view of the life and achievements of Sri Aurobindo published so far. Coming as it does from the pen of one who has been a de— voted student not only of Sri Aurobindo’s writings, but of our philosophy in general, the book has a value of its own.
Few persons of the present generation are yet able to appreciate the value of Sri Aurobindo’s contribution to India’s nationalism to which, between the years 1904 and l909, he gave a new shape in form and content. Sri Diwakar, himself a nationalist who went through the fiery ordeal of sacrifice during the struggle for freedom, is able to put that aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s life into proper perspective.
Apart from his philosophic and mystic achievements, Sri Aurobindo also played a great part in appraising the true value of Indian culture, in discovering its fundamental values and their relation to the central ideas which have re-created India, age after age, since the Vedic times. Sri Diwakar has very rightly presented to us Sri Aurobindo’s conception of India’s mission in history.
This book, therefore, will serve as a guide to the heritage of ideas and achievements which Sri Aurobindo has left behind him. Aurobindo’s writings are difficult for the beginner to study but, with the guidance of Sri Diwakar`s book, he can the more easily follow the original works and so benefit from their wisdom.
Brahma Sutras (79)
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