Sri Aurobindo: What no one says about the great master – Francois Gautier

Sri Aurobindo

Francios GautierSri Aurobindo espoused the message of the Bhagavad Gita, that sometimes when dharma is in danger, when your people, your culture, and your borders are being trampled upon by an oppressor, force and violence may be necessary. – Francois Gautier

India is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the avatar of the 20th century, Sri Aurobindo. All kinds of articles, essays and books have come out, dealing with different aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s genius. His philosophy, probably one of the highest and most far-reaching, which he expounded in books like The Life Divine or The Synthesis of Yoga; his extraordinary poetry, which he penned in his masterpiece Savitri, that has been compared in style, and rhythm to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and some of Shakespeare’s visionary plays. His culture and vision of artistic India, summed up in The Foundations of Indian Culture, which 110 years after it was written, should be the bible of every painter, sculptor, architect here. His political work of course, how he led with Lokmanya Bal, Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Pal and others, a nationalist programme to counterbalance the pro-British moderate wing of the Congress.

What has been bypassed and kept under the wraps, though, is his espousing the message of the Bhagavad Gita (pdf), that sometimes when dharma is in danger, when your people, your culture, and your borders are being trampled upon by an oppressor, force and violence may be necessary. In the words of Sri Aurobindo himself: “Sri Aurobindo has never concealed his opinion that a nation is entitled to attain its freedom by violence, if it can do so or if there is no other way; whether it should do so or not, depends on what is the best policy, not on ethical considerations.”

The human mind is linear, which means that it cannot see multiple truths at the same time, and divides the world into evil and divine, good and bad, black and white…. In this way, every historian, every biographer of Sri Aurobindo, even his closest contemporary disciples, have ignored or swept under the carpet Sri Aurobindo’s choice of violence for liberation from the British colonial yoke. These biographies pretend that Sri Aurobindo’s brother Barin, manufactured bombs and revolvers in the basement of their father’s ancestral house in Calcutta without the knowledge of the Master. Some of these bombs were actually used, for instance against British magistrate Douglas Kingsford who hanged many revolutionaries (but unfortunately missed him). This was attributed to Baren, but listen to what Sri Aurobindo wrote, “If Sri Aurobindo had not believed in the efficacy of violent revolution or had disliked it, he would not have joined the secret society whose whole purpose was to prepare a national insurrection.”

The Buddhist and Gandhian influence of ahimsa at any cost seems to haunt the minds of political leaders post-Independence, not only from the ranks of the Congress, but also of the BJP and even the RSS. Violence is considered unspiritual, undivine and adharmic. We see, for instance, that China is able to hoodwink India at every step, encroaching upon its territory in Ladakh, Sikkim or Arunachal Pradesh, then pretends to negotiate, retreat only partly, and then encroach somewhere else. Sri Aurobindo never minced his words, and in private conversations with his disciples, recorded in the famous book Evening Talks by A.B. Purani, he often lambasted Mahatma Gandhi’s absolute and rigid nonviolence—for instance, during the Caliphate movement, or when Churchill’s envoy Sir Stafford Cripps offered in 1939 independence to India as a Commonwealth nation, if the National Congress cooperated with the allies’ Second World War effort, which Gandhi pressured Nehru to refuse. – Fitstpost, 3 March 2022

François Gautier is a journalist based in India who has served as the South Asian correspondent for multiple reputed French-language dailies. He lives in Auroville and is the founder of the Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History in Pune.

India vs China

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