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This is a bit unusual post to start off the new year on the blog. But then maybe not. This may be the perfect post for me to kick off new year on this blog.
My last two publications for 2014 were not on this blog but elsewhere. In one I pondered upon the question — how to let go. And in the other I attempted to shed some light on the question – how to think deeply and rationally about Indian social problems or issues.
As my first post for 2015 on this blog, I continue with the same theme. Sort of. To my mind this post has sort of become a cross between the two.
What leads me to write this post is something very simple. It is simply this — I have had enough. Of intellectual laziness. Of apathy. Of indifference. Of ignorance. Of mindless aping. Of non-thinking.
I have had enough of…
Totally un-intelligent movie plots with childish and silly attempts to mock and ridicule something the film-writers have no clue about. Or perhaps they do, but they choose to ignore it because of their own agendas, or simply because of their interest in making more money by creating un-necessary controversies.
I have had enough of…
Utter disregard and disinterest among the modern, educated folks to learn about Indian views on religion and not-religion, and instead mindlessly defend the movie because that’s the “progressive” or “secular” or “right” thing to do. Or on the flip side, an equally ignorant call by some sections to ban the movie because it offends their “religious” sentiments.
Why is this complete apathy among large sections of the modern-educated classes of India to question the borrowed/colonized understandings they have of their own culture and traditions? When will these sections of our society begin to discover that religion is not same as dharma, idol-worship is not same as murti-puja, God is not same as devi/devata, godmen is not same as guru?
Why is it that these sections of our society shy away from exploring such simple truths that secularism, agnosticism, and atheism are concepts that are inbuilt and part of the richly diverse and yet inwardly unified Indian dharmic and spiritual traditions? Why isn’t there an interest in knowing that one doesn’t need to give up a dharmic or spiritual outlook on life and living just because one wants to label oneself as secular, agnostic or atheist?
Why o why?
As always, when I am bogged down with such questions, I turn to the source I know. There I find answers to not only my mind’s questions but also hints to calm down such questioning itself. There I find strength to renew my aspiration to practice living by the real, deeper truths that are beyond and behind all outer discourse. There I find a new way of balancing my outer quest to know and my inner thirst to let go.
India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature. This does not mean, as some narrowly and blindly suppose, the rejection of everything new that comes to us in the stream of Time or happens to have been ﬁrst developed or powerfully expressed by the West. Such an attitude would be intellectually absurd, physically impossible,and above all unspiritual; true spirituality rejects no new light, no added means or materials of our human self-development. It means simply to keep our centre, our essential way of being, our inborn nature and assimilate to it all we receive, and evolve out of it all we do and create. Religion has been a central preoccupation of the Indian mind; some have told us that too much religion ruined India, precisely because we made the whole of life religion or religion the whole of life, we have failed in life and gone under. I will not answer, adopting the language used by the poet in a slightly different connection, that our fall does not matter and that the dust in which India lies is sacred. The fall, the failure does matter, and to lie in the dust is no sound position for man or nation. But the reason assigned is not the true one. If the majority of Indians had indeed made the whole of their lives religion in the true sense of the word, we should not be where we are now; it was because their public life became most irreligious, egoistic, self-seeking, materialistic that they fell. It is possible, that on one side we deviated too much into an excessive religiosity, that is to say, an excessive externalism of ceremony, rule, routine, mechanical worship, on the other into a too world-shunning asceticism which drew away the best minds who were thus lost to society instead of standing like the ancient Rishis as its spiritual support and its illuminating life-givers. But the root of the matter was the dwindling of the spiritual impulse in its generality and broadness, the decline of intellectual activity and freedom, the waning of great ideals, the loss of the gust of life.
Perhaps there was too much of religion in one sense; the word is English, smacks too much of things external such as creeds, rites, an external piety; there is no one Indian equivalent. But if we give rather to religion the sense of the following of the spiritual impulse in its fullness and deﬁne spirituality as the attempt to know and live in the highest self, the divine, the all embracing unity and to raise life in all its parts to the divinest possible values, then it is evident that there was not too much of religion, but rather too little of it—and in what there was, a too one-sided and therefore an insufﬁciently ample tendency. The right remedy is, not to belittle still farther the age long ideal of India, but to return to its old amplitude and give it a still wider scope, to make in very truth all the life of the nation a religion in this high spiritual sense. This is the direction in which the philosophy, poetry, art of the West is, still more or less obscurely, but with an increasing light, beginning to turn, and even some faint glints of the truth are beginning now to fall across political and sociological ideals. India has the key to the knowledge and conscious application of the ideal; what was dark to her before in its application, she can now, with a new light, illumine; what was wrong and wry in her old methods she can now rectify; the fences which she created to protect the outer growth of the spiritual ideal and which afterwards became barriers to its expansion and farther application, she can now break down and give her spirit a freer ﬁeld and an ampler ﬂight: she can, if she will, give a new and decisive turn to the problems over which all mankind is labouring and stumbling, for the clue to their solutions is there in her ancient knowledge. Whether she will rise or not to the height of her opportunity in the renaissance which is coming upon her, is the question of her destiny.
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 20, pp. 38-39 (emphasis added)