DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 27 Shri Aurbindo Ghosh (1872—1950)
Discuss Aurbindo’s theory of nationalism, and Human Unity.
“The ideal of human unity” the famouse work defines the word nation as “a persistent psychological unity which nature has been busy developing throughout the world in the most various forms and educating into physical and political unity”. To this he further added “Political unity is not the essential fact, it may not yet be realised yet the nation persists and moves inavitably towords its realization”.
Again he said, “For what is a nation, what is our mother India, it is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of mind. It is a mighty composed of all the shakties of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the shakti of all the millions of Gods assembled and in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call in India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of shakties of 300 million people”.
Aurobindo was a pioneer of neo-nationalism in India. This nationalism was not only patriotism. Indian leaders of late 19th century were no doubt patriots but all were not nationalists.
Dadabhai Naoroji,’ Feroze Shah Mehta, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Surendra Nath Banerjee and Tyabji were of moderate and liberal views of the time. According to Aurobindo these were more patriotic than nationalists. They loved India but could not get the soul of India. They did not believe in spiritual greatness and basic genius of India and hence could not give the people any spirit of national unity.
They asked for political, rights, administrative reforms as British subjects but not as proud citizens of India, They gave the inferiority complex to themselves. Aurobindo said “The nineteenth century leaders of national movement were imitative, self-forgetful and artificial. They aimed at reproduction of Europe in India”. Imitation of British habits and behaviours by them was criticised by him as India had a great spiritual, cultural and intellectual heritage of her own.
India had a divine mission to lead the complete humanity by her great past. Psychological slavery, hypocrisy, cowardice and sentimentalism should be won. National renaissance can only take place if new spirit of nationalism was given to the masses. National awareness of the public was necessary for the liberation of the nation and to make the movement successful.
Aurobindo Ghosh further quoting from Gita said “Better the law of one’s own being though it be badly done than an alien dharma well- followed, death in one’s own dharma is better, it is a dangerous thing to follow the law of another’s nature”… …“If we had succeeded in Europeanizing ourselves we would have lost for ever our spiritual capacity, our intellectual force, our national elasticity, and the power of self renovation”.
Thus it is clear that nationalism of the previous Congress leader’s was of a different kind with political concessions from the English people, while Aurobindo was quite different in, his approach. He gave more value to the spiritual past by which awareness and pride can be revived so that nationalism may reach a height which is clear from the following extract of his speech at Bombay on 19th January 1908 -“Nationalism is not a mere political programme, Nationalism is a religion that has come from God.
Nationalism is a creed which you shall have to live…If you are going to be a nationalist, if you are going to assent to this religion of Nationalism, you must do it in the religious spirit. You must remember that you are the instruments of God……Nationalism is not going to be crashed. Nationalism survives in the strength of God and it is not possible to crush it, whatever weapons are brought against it, Nationalism’is immortal”.
In Bande Mataram he said “Nationalism is simply a passionate aspiration for the realization of Divine Unity in the nation. In the ideal of nationalism which India will set before the world, there will be an essential equality between man and man irrespective of caste, creed, religion or economic status. Nation is a Virat Purush or a magnified image of man and all the individuals are an integral part of that personality which is symbolized by the nation”.
His nationalism was not chauvinism or narrow jingoism. He wished India to be free because she was a spiritual fountain Head of humanity and the whole world looked at her to lead spiritually against materialistic principles of the west. In this way his nationalism took the roots of Internationalism for human unity.
We find that nationalism with Aurobindo was not Only a political bias but had also the religious view that came from God. Nationalism was immortal as it was a universal truth. He was in favour of spiritual society that will lead to rich and beautiful life. Political discords, conflicts, contradictions and struggles led to Chaos and disharmony.
In this way Aurobindo made nationalism aspiritual force and a stimultant religious sentiment. In “Ideal of Karmayogin” he has summarized his spiritual politics. “We say to the individual and specially to the young who are now arising to do- India’s work, the world’s work, the God’s work, you cannot cherish these ideas, still less can you fulfil them if you subject your minds to European ideas or look at the life from the material stand point. Materially, you are nothing, spiritually you are everything, dare everything, s acrifice everything. First, therefore become Indians.
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 the intellect or sentimens but in your lives. Live them and you will be great and strong, mighty, invincible and fearless. Neither life nor death will have any terrors for you. Difficulty and impossibility will vanish from your vocabularies.
For it is in the spirit that strength is eternal, and you must win back the kingdom of yourselves, the inner Swaraj, before you can win back your outer empire. There the Mother dwells and She waits for worship that She may give strength. Believe in Her, serve Her, lose your wills in Her’s your egoism in the, greater ego of the country, your separate selfishness in the service of humanity. Recover the source of all strength in yourself and all else will be added to you, social soundness, intellectual pre-eminence, political freedom, the mastery-of human thought; the hegemony of the world”.
Aurobindo wished to raise an army of spirituaHy elevated political workers who would see after various aspects of social, political and economic life.
Aurobindo’s nationalism was not based on narrow regionalism. His spiritual bonds of unity comprised the world as a whole. He did not care for the restrictions of caste, creed religion, territorial boundaries, colour, race or sex. He liked to free India so that she may become the spiritual leader of the whole world. As a nationalist leader, Aurobindo stood for inspired and exalted patriotism. Indian pation would stand for the manifestation of divinity. Mother India was not a division of land or a geographical area but She was something more.
He said once, “Are we going to sacrifice our national destiny to the whims and interests of the foreigners or are we going to take ourselves seriously and struggle for the right to live that we may fulfil in this world our Heaven appointed mission”.
Our existences depended on the Mother. Sanatan Dharma stood for Indian nationalism. Till we have faith in-Sanatan Dharma, Indian nation could exist. The moment faith finished in the Sanatan Dharma, there would be no India at all. Sanatan Dharma stood for ancient Aryan religious philosophy.
Discuss the Ideal of Human Unity as formulated by Aurobindo Ghosh.
The ‘Ideal of Human Unity’ is written by Aurobindo Ghosh. He was against, the theory of Nation-State. Industrialization developed the powerful nation-states. Every nation liked to dominate the other. By this world-wars became necessary and it resulted in masacre and loss of property. Aurobindo was a student of world- history.
Social evolution organized persons into groups as families, clans and villages. Inner social urge and outer compulsion were also responsible for organization of bigger and bigger groups as kingdoms, states and empires.
Big empires were the results of ruthless economic exploitation, and unjustified use of violence. The state is the highest and noblest organization during the process of social evolution. His ideas were similar to Aristotle and Hegel.
But Aurobindo’s ideas of state and , nationalism were not narrow and fanatical but had cosmopolitan character. Nation was the necessary stage in the long process of social evolution. He gave the realization of brotherhood of mankind,foundation of which will be provided by religion of humanity and , inner spiritual feeling of oneness.
Aurobindo has something different to say about state. He wrote, “The state is a convenience and a rather clumsy convenience, for our common development, it ought never to be made an end in itself”. He did not follow idealists. He believed in the limited functions of the State. He was not a socialist nor social democrat. He said “It is the energy of the individual that really matters.
The State sometimes comes to aid, if its aid does not mean undue control, it serves a positive end”. Here he follows Individualists. He says “The business of the State so long as it continues to be a necessary element in human life and growth, is to provide aU possible facilities for cooperative action, to remove obstacles to prevent really all harmful waste and friction……and removing avoidable injustice to secure for every individual a just and equal chance of self-development and satisfaction to the extent of his powers and in the line of his nature.
To this extent the aim in Modern Socialism is right and good”. Again he said, “But all necessary interference with the freedom of Man’s growth is to that extent harmful. Even co-operative action is injurious if, instead of seeking the good of all it immolates the individual to a communal egoism and prevents so much freedom and initiative as is necessary for the flowering of, a more perfectly developed humanity”. ,
He wanted that all, the nation-states of the world should be united in a common federation. Alternate proposal for Europe was to organise a United States of Europe. So United States of Asia, United States of Africa and United States of North and South America.”
All these states again should combine and unite into a confederation. According to him a time would come when all human races would give a single state and would be bound by Spiritualism. In Ideal of Human Unity he said, “a world union will base on self determination”. Socio-ethnic groups would be separately organized. But no forceful or violent subjugation would be applied. Such union of world would not be dominated by pride, ego and selfishness of some nations but would be governed by humanity.
A natural psychological unity would emerge among the humanity at large. In the presence of such a psychological unity, the world union would become indestructible.. He further suggested that big empires would fall to pieces if they did not have any psychological unity. British empire would not subsist because of any idea of oneness among the subject- races. Political unity or administrative control would have no significance.
Thus modern basis of nation-states would stumble as seen from the point of world union. At the same ti&e the pride of such nations could be crushed by spiritual religion of humanity. Spiritual collectivism would subdue the spiritual claims of components. Spiritualized community would subdue social and political chaos of the modem period. Socialism or communism would lead to authoritarianism. Humanism could not be built by an imperfect man at the top.
Religion also could not bind the society for long as it would turn to dogmatism. Thus only a spiritual society could build the future richness and good life. A sacred spirit and divine reality existed all over. Human beings were the vehicles by which divine reality would be expressed. A time will show the kingdom of divine spirit on earth and other egoisms would disappear.
Mention Aurbindo’s contribution to Indian social thought.
He thought someday or the other India would be a spiritual and political Guru of the whole world humanity. Now western philosophy became barren for him with dryness and purposelessness. Only spiritualism can save the western world of humanity. This role would be played by India. He was an ardent believer of Sana tan Dharma.
About Congress he spoke “I say of the Congress then, this – its aims are mistaken that the spirit in which it proceeds towards their accomplishments is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness, and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and the leaders, in whom it trusts are not the right sort of men to be leaders-in brief, that we are at present in the blind lead ; if not by the Mind, at any rate, by one eyed”. In this way he criticised the Congress for its bias towards the Britishers.
He criticised the British rule in India. Their conduct was illusory. He spoke that a self-respecting nation could not accept maltreatment like this. Again came the partition of Bengal. He accepted the editorship of “Bande Mataram” and he helped the national renaissance.
He developed national spiritualism and spoke that motherland can also be served by spiritual perfection. To remove poverty spiritualism is required and for its independence only spiritualism could do. He spoke of the God’s kill to accomplish this task he had come and said ‘1 hare the power to redeem this fallea race.
It is not the physical power. I am not going to fight with swords or guns but the power of knowledge. The power of Kshtriya is not the only power, there is another power, the fire power of Brahmin, which is founded oh knowledge. This is not a new feeling. 1 hare not imbibed it from modern culture -1 was born with it. It is in marrow of my bones. It is to accomplish this great mission that God has sent me to the earth”.
Aurobindo was of the view for the attainment of complete freedom. His view was that service of the country was the service of the Divine mother. Through Yoga India could achieve freedom. He said, “We believe that it is to make Yoga the ideal of human life that India rises today by the Yoga, she will get the strength to realise her freedom, unity and greatness by the Yoga she will keep the strength to preserve it. It is a spiritual revolution we foresee and the material is only its shadow and reflex”.
At the same time Government had a close watch over his activities. He was designed to the “Alipore Conspiracy Case” and was jailed in Alipore. Bail was refused. Desh Bandhu Dass and C.R. Dass advocated his case. In the end he was released and was acquitted of the charges. While in jail he studied Gita and developed power of Sadhana and spiritual energies.
While at England he had no faith in Yoga. While taking education at Cambridge, his classmate Mr. Deshpande asked him to practice Yoga but he refused as it brought inaction and distraction from the harsh realities of life. Bat while at Baroda he developed Yoga. He was in search of a Guru. This he found in Vishnu Bhaskar Lele. Thus he became a perfect Yogi.
In the service of Baroda’s Gaekwar he was unable to take part in the active politics but indirectly he took the part. In Anglo Marathi paper Tndu Prakasli’ published from Bombay he gave articles without name in the series of ‘New Lamp for Old’. By this he criticized moderates dominating the Indian National Congress for policy of prayers aud petitions and for their faith in the Britishers.
He awakened the people being one against the tyranny of the British people. He hoped of the new leadership with dynamic and radical views. All methods possible – violent or non-violent – should be employed to liberate the country from Imperialism. Those articles made a stir throughout the country. The paper management asked him to make his writings mild, but Aurobindo stopped writing to the paper.
Aurobindo’s urge for revolt became solid. While with Baioda service, he visited Bengal if political movement was possible. But seeing time as unfortunate and indifferent he. came back to Baroda to resume his duties.
Soon after, he sent Jatin Chatterjee, a soldier in the Baroda Army to organize a secret revolutionary party in Bengal and later he sent his younger brother for the same purpose to assist him, in the job of revolution throughout Bengal to organize cells which were kept under the control of devoted and dedicated revolutionaries who were expected to sacrifice their lives for the sake of motherland.
The leaders of this movement worked under the garb of Yogis with purity and austerity. While in service of-the Maharaja, Aurobindo attended this annual Cougress Session held in the years 1902, i904 and 1906. He persuaded Indian National Congress to declare complete independence.
He was not satisfied with his acts. Patriotism was full to his head and heart. Hence he left Baroda and took over the principalship at National College, Calcutta. Reaching Calcutta he called the meeting of National leaders of Bengal and put forth bis programme for liberation.
He condemned the moderates for their policy of prayers and petitions. Complete independence should be our aim of national struggle. Boycott, Swadeshi, National education and passive resistance were the weapons foi the independence. He liked to oust the moderates and put the Congress in change of Tilak.
He became editor of Bande Mataram, a daily started by Bipin Chandra Pal. Educated mass of Bengal were aroused and revolutionery grounds were established. Government liked to take for conviction Aurobindo under sedition but it could not be done as his editorship was not established and proved. But the case brought him to the forefront in national field.
Terrorism developed through his speeches. Two ladies were killed in a bomb outrage though it was for District Magistrate of Muzzaffarpore. Aurobtndo and his brother Barinder Kumar Ghosh were arrested for criminal conspiracy. After the trial with residence of one year in Alipore Jail, he was released as it was not proved due to pleadings of C.R. Das.
During April, 1910, he came to Pondicherry to keep aloof from the politics as he thought it unwise to do so. After his release from jail he started two magazines ‘Kaimayogin’ and ‘Dharma’ which were non-political. It was heard that he would be deported. He did his Yoga and it was clear that he should go to Chandra Nagar and Pondicherry in French possessions for spiritual attainment.
While at Pondicherry he was engrossed in spiritual Sadhana. He was engaged in literary pursuits also. He produced great works like
- The Life Divine,
- Essays on Gita,
- Synthesis of Yoga,
- Ideal of human unity,
- Defence of Indian Culture,
- Renaissance of India,
- Basis of Yoga,
- Riddless of the World.
He died in 1950 and placed before the people of India, “Our ideal of patriotism proceeds from the basis of love and brotherhood and it looks beyond the unity of the nation and the ultimate unity. But it is a unity of brothers, close and free-men that we seek, not unity of masters and seals of devourer and devoured”.