Evenings with Sraddhalu part 3 India today subtitles in EnglishRussian

Welcome to our continuing series evenings with Sraddhalu It is my honor to have him here with us To speak to us on so many areas of India, Vedic culture, Ancient and modern. Welcome, Sraddhalu! - Namaste! we have much to to learn about the ancient Vedic culture and Present India and even before that Shankara as well. Please share with us When you look at the picture of human evolution across millennia There is one civilization which has persisted with an unbroken continuity Going back at least 10,000 years and that is India. All other ancient civilizations have faded out Being overwhelmed, conquered and lost even their original language or their original values: Egyptia,n Sumerians, Mayans/ Even the Greek civilization is no more what it was then, has no continuty today of what it was then in its peak But in India, we see not only the continuity but also the living force of its most ancient inspirations even impacting today and preparing for a still greater future Sri Aurobindo gives us insights into that in a way that no one else can. I have seen great scholars of Vedic texts confused of so many aspects of the civilization and its values and Concluding that the authority is mentioned, let's say a thousand years ago Would know better than us because they were closer to the source Which Sri Aurobindo points out that those authorities err. Because they were already too far from the source And it is necessary to plunge into the original inspiration not with today's mind, but with the mind that belonged to the Vedic seers and So only a yogic mind, an intuitive mind, a spiritual mind can really enter that and reveal its secrets When Sri Aurobindo started writing the Arya one of the objectives he mentioned there was to bring forward the highest knowledge from the ancient traditions in the form necessary for the future of humanity and Two of the books that he started writing one chapter at a time simultaneously with two other books where "The secret of the Veda" and his commentary on the Isha Upanishad Do you know the story of Jyoti Priya? No, tell me. - Well... - Tell us - She was a young woman in California belonged to a Theosophical family and Came to India. I think she was in her teens or early twenties in search of the secret of the Vedas She landed in Benaras and Met with the great pandits and they've all told her This is fairy tales basically. The night before she left a man came to her and gave her a typewritten copy of Sri Aurobindo's "Secret of the Vedas" and that was Arabinda Basu She came immediately to the ashram Where she received her name from Sri Aurobindo Jyoti Priya lover of light and formed the first Sri Aurobindo Center in America. I have seen a letter from Mother to her Where Mother says: "To you who have realized your soul There is so much more to do". And Mother tells that unless she can bring all into that love then her work is not complete. So, I thought I should share this. Sri Aurobindo explains that the Vedic age is primarily an age of intuition He implies though not as explicitly, he implies that at that time it was an intuitive age for the whole of the earth and the Vedic civilizational values. In fact, we find evidence were spread all over the world many of the symbols, many of the perspectives, attitudes, Representative relations with the universe, with the deities, the gods, with humanity with the earth You will find common symbols everywhere in all the old cultures Sri Aurobindo explains that from the Vedic age where the Rishis imprinted those values, that spirituality into India From that age there is a decline from an intuitive state to a more rational phase Before it can once again rise back into intuition. And he explained this in a very cryptic brief statement where he says that the fact that the modern human being can rapidly pick up the power of the intellect Even when you pick up somebody from the tribal cultures where they have no training in intellectual development for centuries, generations You get them out of that space bring them into an intellectual space - within a generation the mind picks up the capacity That, he says, is evidence that this work has been done in the past in humanity in human evolution In fact having passed to the intellectual age humanity moved on through the intuitive age But something was left incomplete and therefore there was a need for a fallback. So the Vedic age represents a peak of a previous cycle after which there is a relapse into the intuitive mind. Why the fallback? Because something was left incomplete in the development of the power of the intellect and not integrated sufficiently with the intuitive mind which had emerged. So the fallback brings the imprint of the intuition back into the Intellectual development and then once again returns from there now properly integrated. That's what we are going to see in the immediate imminent future. It's already happening in a small way, but that's the Arc ahead. But this fallback is the interesting thing which we have to understand So what the Vedic Rishis gave to the world? Which was especially preserved in India in the imprint that they made on the civilization itself that Subsequently over time was inaccessible because the mind became more intellectualized whereas their language their vision their experience was presented in an intuitive mold. The intellectual mind seeing things in pieces, Cutting it up, putting things in contrast rather than identifying with the deeper underlying unity Cannot understand their vision or their perspective or becomes less and less capable of it over time So we see in India something fascinating happening. There is first this imprint of the Vedic age which brings that spiritual experience and Mother even refers to it as some of the highest experiences of humanity which she then was given at some point by Sri Aurobindo and All of that is imprinted In the Vedic age where the common man is unable to receive. The common man has an intuitive turn but not the spiritual competence to receive that. And so there is a double language and twilight language which describes the spiritual realities as well as the symbolic material representations of that the material representation stays with the common man, the symbols and With it the ritual form of the symbolism Which becomes his means, perhaps his only means to have the connection to the spirit And so this part is common throughout the world Anywhere you go in the world, you will find the ritualism and the essential symbolism common to the Vedic and even many of the vocabularies are similar, the relationships between the deities and the physical their physical actions in the thunder, the lightning and The wind and so on Similar. - But is this in more primitive people or is this though religions as well? In the primitive as well as in the religion as well as the as in the most sophisticated cultures everywhere It's common. So it seems as if what we call today the primitive people were more from the decline from a higher stage of evolution than sustained primitive from a long time. That's the point he makes in his early writings: The fact that they can pick up the intellect within a generation and the full power shows you that the work was done even in those parts of humanity So the second stage comes when as this decline takes place from the intuitive to the more mental mind, there is a passage of transition in what is called the Upanishads where the same truths are given a more rational philosophical formulation Where the higher mind of humanity can now access them and elaborate and build on them but with the mind with, the constructions of the reason and Then there's a third further shift into the life of the people. In India that transition is described as the Puranic age The same stories which are in the Veda, deep profound spiritual experiences now take on a more human Representation: the gods have a human character. They are fighting with each other. They're running around, battling and... But the characteristics of the gods remains, their relationships remain as in the Vedic But now they are at a level which is so humanized that their stories you can tell children. And when children hear those stories There's a deep resonance in their deeper intuitive spiritual parts as well as in their superficial life and mind Where the truth of that is imprinted into them in their hearts, in their minds. And those values have shaped the whole civilization. Now this triple transition didn't take place everywhere on earth and So what you see is in India the spiritual civilization imprinted from the way that continues. Elsewhere those principles become reduced more to symbols which whose meaning is forgotten. They become either hollow rituals or sometimes the same power of the ritual connection to the higher realms is perverted into magic, Becomes low-level magic, which you see in some of the Mayan and Aztec spaces or even in certain parts of Europe But the spiritual component is lost by the time the rational age comes into the whole of humanity. Is not it in India also? The same thing happening in India in large parts, especially in the last hundred years after the colonial phase But the fact that this was so deeply imprinted in the culture, the culture itself was spiritualized, gives it a momentum that can take it through this difficult passage. But the danger is there that India could lose it if it went the other way deliberately Now this is a very important to understand because then we see the larger scope of human evolution and we understand it's The nature of its current crisis and what is the role India has to play there In India in this transitional phase two great passages take place in history. One is an enormous efflorescence the civilization under the Vedic imprint because the Vedic imprint saw the whole world as the domain for the divine manifestation: all life, including the most material part of life is a domain for spirituality to manifest. Takes four forms: knowledge, strength, harmony, including opulence, wealth, and perfection. And if you look at any of the old temples even going back a thousand years you see the kind of skill, the kind of perfection. You see the texts and you see their idealism in every field. You take a field like warfare which anywhere in the world in the last two thousand years represents the crudest human instincts But in India warfare has been raised into almost a spiritual art Excuse me For the training of warfare of the martial arts master from the beginning you are taught to surrender to the divine, relate everything to the divine: the body movements, the postures, the moves of self-defense or offense - each represents certain spiritual symbols or truths The weapons equally are imbued with a spiritual power and represent an aspect of the divine in the form and function of the weapon itself and The human being, the human instrument is meant to become the perfect instrument for the divine will to act now. This is fundamental to the whole training of warfare The result of course is that the human capacity is pushed to limits which go beyond. They break human limitations, they transcend human limitations and become even a spiritual experience and the same in every field whether it is music, whether it is an architecture, even in administration.Iin the science of administration the role of the king and the minister and the whole hierarchy of Administration is meant to replicate the way the divine manifests in the universe and rules the universe so to say. We are only replicating through human structures what is already there. So everything is seen from that perspective. Now this is the first phase of human Indian civilization where things blossom because of the spirituality. The second phase is when almost as if in reaction to this extreme efflorescence of the culture You have a reaction which says: Wait, the source of this the power of this is in the spirit. Do not lose yourself in the perfection and the opulance of the life forms Now this took a form in the Buddhist realization which said: After all this the problem of human suffering is not solved. And so the Buddha takes this exclusive focus on the shortest and most rapid way out of suffering. As a result, of course he gets out of life, abandons life to withdraw into the Absolute In the Vedic civilizational values This is unacceptable because the goal was manifesting in the field of life. And if to solve the problem of suffering you have to get out of life then you missed the point The solution to the suffering has to be done through life not by abandoning life. And so what we see in the Buddhist realization is something which is incompatible And therefore over time you find the Buddhist teaching itself, although once very dominant in India, eventually moves out of the Indian space. It survives all around India, but not within India In the transition there is an effort of Adi Shankaracharya who comes to reestablish the Vedic ideal but he must now compete with the power of the Buddhist ideal and Sri Aurobindo observes, he becomes almost half a Buddhist He accepts that, yes There is suffering but the suffering is a superficial appearance and The underlying reality is the Divine delight But in this experience because of the strong imprint of the Buddhists realization he has to discard the suffering as illusory along with life itself as being illusory The Brahman is the truth and the world is The word used is mithya, which is translated as falsehood or illusory. Actually if you go to the root of the word the root is mith is relative It is the domain of the relative Now if you look at it from that point of view, it is not contrary to the Vedic nor even contrary to the Buddhist ideal it perfectly harmonizes the the deep truths that the Divine is absolute and the world is his expression into relativity But the huge turn away from the life has not been corrected And so the 'Divine is truth' - 'Brahman Satyam' and 'The world - Jagat' is Mithya' relative as if falsehood to be abandoned And then a series of other sages and saints come Including Madhvacharya who assert, remind us of the Vedic ideal: 'Sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma' - 'All this is verily the Brahman' What timeframe here? What years? Spanning over the last two thousand years series of sages, saints teaching this and re-establishing into life In this huge arc of two thousand years where the Imprint of the life-denying-spirituality has to be corrected over time The full correction never takes place. Because Sri Aurobindo points out that the very nature of the Buddhist realization was from a poise of the Absolute turning to the relative and it had the power of the Absolute And the result is that ascetic turn was never fully corrected in India In practice it led to the best minds, the most powerful minds and Most powerful beings turning away and withdrawing from life. What happens to a civilization? It loses its strength, vitality, creativity and intelligence. And Sri Aurobindo refers to the last about a thousand years ago when you see the last burst of creativity and then silence. All this because of the ascetic turn Now this we have to see in this big arc of going back ten thousand years Otherwise, you cannot understand the full journey. If you limit yourself to two thousand years and say this is all India was Then you missed the point: eight thousand years before it was something totally different, for eight thousand years and This weakening, this collapse is as if Sri AUrobindo suggests, inevitable for two reasons: first The Vedic civilizational realization had a flaw The flaw was that the divinization of life was brought down all the way In the mind, in the life energies, but the body was still seen as a support for the spirit. Body itself was not taken into the transformation and divinization. It stopped there And that Sri Aurobindo refers to as the flaw, but it's a fatal flaw because it leads eventually to a split. Something remains which is not spiritualized and that fine crack eventually splits to become this schism between the divine life and material life And this is one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is again Sri Aurobindo points to this as the tremendous adventurous spirit of the Indian civilization: anything which could be attempted had to be attempted And sometimes the most daring, the most dangerous, the most impossible: Yes, if it can be done we should attempt it. And so you see this in every field in in metallurgy, architecture, music Warfare I've mentioned, Mathematics. And the challenge was and the joy of it was that you do something which is opposite. You take two opposite possibilities and realize them in a synthesis. And the result is a kind of a transcendence This idea, somehow also went into the Greeks, in the early Greeks with the Pythagoras who came to India and took from India many of these things You find a similar idea being there in their mystery schools. As if the synthesis of opposites is what gives us the opening to the Divine. So in that in this adventurous spirit the possibility of an ascetic realization The going into an exclusive pursuit of the Divine in abandonment of the whole world Had to be taken to its full exploration So again looking at it from that perspective: the civilization itself was led to play with this among the other possibilities And of course, this is one of those possibilities where once you go into that extreme there is nothing to push you back In the Isha Upanishad and Sri Aurobindo comments on this It is declared thus and this is from the Vedic time That those who lose themselves into life Abandoning or forgetting the Divine, they fall into darkness But those who pursue the Divine in exclusion of the multiplicity of life they fall into a greater darkness And SriAurobindo explains this saying: In life if you lose yourself eventually life kicks you awake, it reminds you of the divine, forces you to grow towards the divine But if you lose yourself in the exclusive oneness of the divine, there's nothing there to push you back into the multiplicity So it's a greater darkness because you have attained to a great realization But it is one-sided and you have no way of knowing that it is one-sided and partial This is what happened during the ascetic phase. And so something because of course It could not be allowed to remain in that error So some correction was needed We see that in the series of invasions that began with the weakening of the civilization with the vitality withdrawn, of course as always happens the barbarians invade from outside and Sri Aurobindo comments on this saying: If not for the Islamic invasions India would have become a nation of monks And the invasion served as a shock to awaken the civilization. And so there's this series of struggles to integrate, reintegrate spirituality With the demand of life and particularly this violent assault that is being experienced Which may even destroy the whole civilization. I think I mentioned in one of our earlier discussions how the Sikh tradition appeared as an attempt to harmonize this But in its culmination during the freedom struggle the ascetic imprint was so strong that we were even taught to celebrate poverty, celebrate weakness as spiritual. In a large part this was you see embodied in the behavior and teaching of Mahatma Gandhi What most people don't know is that Gandhiji did not represent the teaching of the Gita Although he quoted from it, he swore by it His original turn of nature was to a particular brand of Christianity Which is Tolstoynian Christianity and while in South Africa, he was almost converted to Christianity It was a Jain monk who advised him not to do that because it would be a bad example for the whole Indian community But he established his ashram in South Africa and he called it Tolstoy ashram Showing the full turn of his nature being in that particular brand of Christianity which believed in self flagellation, which believed in purification through suffering. And this became his catchphrase, his obsession when he came to India Not aligning himself with the Indic spiritual values he brought this in and presented it as representative of The index spirituality. The result was although he had the Bhagavad-gita in his hand - and the Bhagavad-gita teaches fighting for truth You see he taught instead not to fight. He taught non-violence, suffering and even suffering as a purification, which is the Tolstoynian Christianity and Suffering as the way by which somehow you will overcome the attacker Which of course is not a reasonable, not practical When Hitler threatened to invade England He sent a letter to the king of England saying that You should not fight Hitler with violence, you should surrender, allow them to take over your people, kill your women and children, But you will oppose with soul force only and without violence. Now, what does that mean you oppose with soul force? You're somehow supposed to stand and something of your soul force is going to magically act on the enemy While he batters you with his weapons and kills you? What are you supposed to do with your hands? What's the point of having a body and intelligence? Somehow all that is blurred out and this obsessive focus on non-violence is made into a spiritual ideal Sri Aurobindo points out that this seemed to work in India because it was under British rule And they had a sense of fair play Yes, laying across the railway tracks - many people have said if you had tried that in China... You know what would happen. And what would have happened under Nazi rule also? Yes, they were just gunned down and that's it Exactly! Problem finished. But here it worked or seemed to work. Actually what it did was enormously delay the freedom struggle And in fact the British were brought to the negotiating table not because of this but Because of others who fought, lay down their lives even and a change that took place in the world situation because of the Second World War So although the politically correct position is that Gandhi won freedom for India The reality is he did not. He only delayed and led to partition. We have discussed this before But the point thing I want to bring forward is: In the process The deification of weakness and poverty as spiritual Was embedded in the mind of the popular, of the popular mind of India What it meant was: after we won our freedom there was still this idea that money is unspiritual, Poverty is good, weakness is good and strength is unspiritual. So iImmediately after we won freedom Nehru as Prime Minister declared that India doesn't need an army Because we're good, right? Nobody would want to invade us Fortunately or unfortunately Pakistan invaded at that time in Kashmir and the army was needed and the army was the only thing which saved the situation but that mindset continued When India was offered, and this is not known, India was offered a seat in the UN Security Council Nehru refused it and said China will protect us. Give that seat to China. China was not offered the seat Nehru handed it over to China. And you know the disaster that it has caused This mindset of wanting to be weak, meek and feeling superior because you're weak, meek and poor That is perverted Indian spirituality. And that perversion has not yet been completely erased. And this I'm pointing out because It's part of the current crisis in India They'll come to that shortly When Gandhi visited England. Of course he went with his dress bare, half bare bodied. Fine, it's a statement of your attire, perhaps. But there was a huge machinery behind to maintain that lifestyle of appearing poor That has continued among the politicians even today So there are some politicians who in their fancy will live as if they're living in a village with their cows, in their home and All that machinery, but there's a huge machinery. They're spending so much money to make you appear poor There's the famous incident where a very wealthy Industrialist came to Gandhiji with a big check, a large amount. Ghandi tore it and threw it in his face The statement was: I don't need your money and I'm so pure - that's the implication So money and Spirituality were seen as opposite To accept wealth is to be unspiritual and You will see in the early movies in India after the India became free Always the rich man is the bad man. The poor man is always good, but he is weak and that's his greatness It stuck for a long time It's only in the last I will say 20 years That this has gradually begun to be reversed Where finally somewhere inside the young people said We want the wealth. We want the comforts. We want the stuff which comes with it We want to be able to enjoy life. And imagine, enjoyment of life was considered as unspiritual Because you're having fun - spirituality is suffering It is being ascetic. It is punishing your body. These are the ideals which had warped in Into India. And so the transition did not take place smoothly because Nobody stood up to say: this is wrong There was no great spiritual leader other than Sri Aurobindo Who came forward to say: this is wrong. This is a perversion of spirituality And, unfortunately, because Sri Aurobindo had left the political field, his statement was insulated from politics His teaching and his philosophy had been kept out Not only from the political space, but even in the textbooks of India They will speak of him as a freedom fighter who ran away to Pondicherry and That's it. It stops there. All the rest is locked out from the public mind. So effectively there was nobody in the Indian popular space To bring forward this ideal of the life-embracing and life-transforming spirituality. The result has been this crisis because the inner being of the civilization rejects this perversion It comes forward in the young people as 'I want wealth. I want power. I want to enjoy life' in abandonment as if of the spirituality, but it cannot abandon Because it's so deeply connected already in the civilizational// In the very stuff, in the being of the civilization There's a very interesting statement of the then twenty years ago. The head of the Indian Army, general BC Joshi, he came to the ashram in fact, and He made the statement and I was a student then when he said this He said: I believe (It was a public statement he admitted it in an interview) that in the very genes of every Indian there is a capital 'S' That is spirituality he said: I have I'm Head of three, an army of three million people. And I've seen this in the people!' And he gave some examples and the fact is this: I had a discussion on some occasion where we Compared the Pakistani army with the Indian Army and what drives them The Pakistani army is built on hate and fear against India The Indian army have hate towards nobody. We don't need to go out and conquer. We're quite happy with where we are, At best we are defending. What? We're defending something we love You see, so the foundation of the whole warfare Even in the modern army, the culture is something you love which you are protecting whereas those others have nothing which they love they have only a hate of the other. And what happens when the two clash? Of course, this power of something more profound, more real, existent is stronger This is unique in the history of the world I'm going to show two aspects which are unique: one is this aspect of the power and the way the Indian civilization has managed power The other will be wealth Nowhere In throughout the history, going back ten thousand years, has India ever gone beyond its borders to invade others Internally there were wars. But the way the war was structured. The warring communities, the Kshatriyas, they would fight. The others were left out They didn't pillage, they didn't plunder, they didn't destroy anything. Life continued as it was while they went to the battlefield faught, came back It was only with the Islamic invasions that the pillage and plunder came with war But India never stepped out also beyond its borders to conquer others If you see the Roman Empire it grew strong and wealthy because of the territories that it conquered and plundered When it lost the territories are stocked with plunder, its power collapsed, its wealth collapsed. And the same thing happened with the British Empire. The same with all the colonial European countries The wealth was from looting of others, turning others into slaves. In India, you see sustained development of wealth without needing to conquer others I've mentioned this earlier that India was producing 25 percent of the global industrial output 200 years ago. And that was done purely in its creative generation, in a sustainable economic framework, Without needing to fight others. So you see a sustainable economic developmental model You see also a model of exercise of power not just The military powerm, but also administrative power. But sustainable in a way that can hold everybody together without needing to suppress one group For another to be strong or wealthy. And so still for the future of the world It will be a model coming from here that will show the way But for the moment we had this passage Where you have even now in the Indian Army this same value system. There's no need to go out Where they've been invited to go out as happened with Sri Lanka Where the Sri Lankan government invited the Indian army to come in and solve that whole LTTE problem The Indian army went in, cleaned up, whatever it had to, went back When they entered Bangladesh: liberated Bangladesh, went out. Nobody stayed on You will see this unheard of anywhere In the world in history of humanity. The US government as you know, they're spread out in almost 300 locations all over the world with their armies. Nobody ever gets out. Once you step in, you never get out. And you turn that whole space into a resource to build your national wealth. So these are empires which are continuing in various forms But somehow that has never happened in India. And the reason for this is this underlying spirituality that says: the whole world is one family . And this statement is so profoundly rooted in the culture that you cannot think otherwise The transition today though is how do you deal with power and wealth, How do you re-embrace it. And since there was not the spiritual acceptance of it, overtly, explicitly, there is this passage of a reaction and then an uncomfortable relationship So those who make the wealth, they look at it as a phase: 'First I will make my wealth, first I will enjoy life. Then I will come back to my spiritual pursuit'. So you've separated the two in time There's still an element of guilt I had a very interesting experience once, I went to a Vedic school They are being taught in the traditional way and I tried to convey this truth to them. I said to them: 'Look, wealth is good'. There is a reaction. I said: 'Power is good' And finally to convince them to the final punchline I said: You know, you worship wealth as Mahalakshmi. Oh, yeah, that's true. You worship power as Mahakali. Oh, yeah, that's true Okay, so somehow I fitted it in their structure of Conviction. Sso they have to accept they can't say no Okay, two hours later we have moved we're driving together. And then one of these guys is going through an internal churning After those two hours, he pops up a question: What you said was very interesting but I still don't understand how we can see something that is bad as good? And I said, what do you mean? You know money is bad. How do you expect us to accept it as good? You see, wealth they had somehow accepted, but money was still bad. And when I pointed out the dichotomy he had to struggle again. And this is an example of what's happening in India today There are those who having taken the turn for wealth and power have abandoned the spiritual There are those who have postponed the spiritual. And off late and I say this in the in the last five years there are those who are attempting to integrate Again there has not been yet the public articulation of how these are to be united and that you find only in Sri Aurobindo And that's why Sri Aurobindo is so important So important for India and through India for the world That is happening and it's started. And so one can say, it is inevitable We see today a great attempt of conversion of Indians by Christianity. We see the Power and force of Islamic radicals. India will absorb all of these? Sri Aurobindo makes an observation that because the foundation of the Indian civilization is spiritual and a universal spirituality It has the capacity to absorb everything that comes but For it to be able to enter into a relationship The other side has to accept its truth also Now that meant for example when Islam entered India the principle behind Islam which is The respect for strength and surrender to God Which is at the core of the message and of that whole culture That India already had. It helped to reawaken it. But on the other side Islam did not accept the principle of India that all religions represent an aspect of the truth, which is multifaceted and one. They did not or to the extent that they did not there remained this clash In the parts of the those who were converted to Islam often by force. And that passage is a very painful passage also in India, in Indian history Will Durand records that 300 million Indians were killed during the Islamic invasions over the span of about 200 years And some of them in the most gruesome way. Many were converted again in the most horrible ways, often at sword point Basically, they were said: you either convert or we chop off your head instantly So the result was so many who had converted Continued with those values that they already had within India, but now under the form of Islam Which was fine. They had no problem, which shows you that it is possible to practice Islam Without the radical extremism which is now its characteristic in so many places in the world So the Muslims in India are different from the Muslims, let's say in Saudi Arabia And the Islam of India has a character which is Indian And therefore that is acceptable for the world And it shows that it's possible But there has been in the last 20 years particularly a radicalization in India With influences coming from Saudi Arabia, preachers coming from there and teaching, radicalizing the Indian Muslims The same pattern though for the longer duration came with the radical Christians Ad this goes back 200 years with the British they made the Church a vehicle of state policy and conversion to Christianity as a means of perpetuating state control And so one of the things they did at the time was they shut down the Indian schools but they promoted the schools that were run by the missionaries So any missionary could open a school in India without permission, but Indians opening schools in the vernacular had to take special permission, which was not granted Interestingly after the British left, the rule continued It was so strange when you think about it. To this day the rule continues: vernacular schools have special restrictions from the government for no reason at all Where if anybody opening an English school or missionaries opening any school Have no restrictions at all Why? British colonial rules. And it continues today? Continues today! Continues today... And because the same: The politicians find it as a convenient means of avoiding society Promoting what is called minorityism - giving special favors to minority groups - that they may give you more votes And what is ridiculous is there are spaces in India where Christians are Muslims and a majority but they're still treated with the same benefits as a minority Because on the overall Indian space they are technically a minority. But if you follow the principle of minority Promotion then in those spaces Hindus should have the benefits. That's not done So this has unfortunately led to a division of Indian society along religious lines The division with Christianity was not so obvious. It was done surreptitiously It's not well known even today It's not taught in your English, Indian textbooks But in India the Inquisition continued for a full 150 years after it stopped in Europe And the whole intention was of course converting, taking away lands, taking away properties under the name of whatever the Inquisition wanted to do and converting large numbers. So the Conversion into Christianity was used more as a state policy to create a class of Indians who would be rulers British in taste and Indian in blood. And they would be the rulers for the British. So that was Not so obviously a political division. But with Islam it became a political divisio n thanks to Gandhiji's policy Where he asked the British to recognize Muslims as a separate electoral force. Something against which Sri Aurobindo had already spoken out during the freedom struggle And by then he had stepped out when Gandhiji took it up again. And that is what led to the partition of India. But as a result the Muslim in India Has a confused identity see Pakistan's logic was: it is to be a religion as a separate nation. That was the logic, which is not true obviously But having made that, the people who lived in Pakistan want partition, the Muslims in India who asked for partition did not go to Pakistan. And the result was continuing tendency to think in terms of pro-pakistan anti-Indian identities for some Muslims Even if you say they're a minority they became a focal point for many Pakistan's to form in India And it was in the immediate transition after the partition. There was a whole passage where many of these pockets Had to be reabsorbed and reassimilated into the larger Indian space But to this day you will find pockets all over the country where a cluster of Muslims will fly the Pakistani flag while in India and they will celebrate the victory of Pakistan over India in a cricket match and so on. Now this is in a large part promoted by the Pakistani intelligence: They send money, they send preachers to continue to foment this division But the practical result is: there is a schism. There is a conflict along religious lines, in particular with Islam. Now Sri Aurobindo saw this when India was partitioned, India became free with partition. In his message of 1947 15th August he says: It's a birthday gift, but the gift is divided And he says if this division remains India's destiny will be greatly I don't have the exact words, but Disrupted and Even the possibility of war and and renewed foreign invasion will exist And he sees this and then he says: But this cannot and must not be! By whatever means This split of India has to be corrected and the space that is Pakistan, Bangladesh, Etc. has to reintegrate with the whole of India Now this reintegration is a very tricky question because the degree to which extremism in Pakistan has gone, Any integration today Might be even dangerous. So nobody in India wants that integration. In Pakistan the senior voices want that reintegration because they say, Pakistan is a failed state But the groups that represent the extremism in Pakistan, of course, they don't want it So, how will it happen? There was a chance given I think I've mentioned this: when Indira Gandhi was advised by the Mother to free Bangladesh and then to finish West Pakistan Yes She gave back the lands and all that. And after that Mother said, it was a very serious mistake, India would suffer greatly And then she spoke of what she saw: that the world situation would change And the US would support India instead of Pakistan. And then Pakistan would break up into five parts Now this is... the first signs of this are now happening: the US has taken distinctly a pro-Indian position. And Pakistan has been isolated as a sponsor of terrorism Now all of this is moving in the right direction. But still the question: How do you reintegrate? So one way would be and this seems to be the direction things are going in that there will be a kind of a federal structure. This is what Mother anticipated. A federation in which all these countries now divided would come together in some framework, but keeping their borders Integrating economically and perhaps over time culturally rebridging and so on It is possible because our experience is that, when you cross over the border and enter Pakistan You do not know, you have gone into another country The people are exactly the same and the common man in Pakistan has so much love and affection for India When Indians went into Pakistan for some cricket match some few years ago, they were greeted by the Pakistanis. And they were told: Oh, you are from India - We give you a free meal. The restaurants would give give you a free meal because... well, you are from India! So the camaraderie on the level of the common Pakistani and Indian is so close because the Cultural values are still there. They're still intact. So it seems Very possible that this integration will take place The transition is more on that level of the extremists training Where people have been brainwashed into thinking in certain ways and that may need a generation to pass. I would like to ask one last question if it's... perhaps, it's for another session but: Hinduism and the feeling amongst many about the RSS Could you speak on this a little? When India became free, Nehru as I've mentioned before had a very strong Communist imprint And anything which represented grassroot spirituality or innate Indianess was to him anathema. So not only there was a strong anti- religious scientist spiritual turn in his policies But anything that represented those values he tried to suppress Now, the origin of this group, that is called RSS, Rashtriya Swayamsevak, literally translated as national Self-service. Or national voluntary service would be the right word The roots of this go back to 1925-24 When the founder of the RSS doctor Hedgewar came to Sri Aurobindo, Met with Sri Aurobindo and they had a private conversation going a couple of hours On return he... one of his objectives was to bring Sri Aurobindo back into the freedom struggle But on his return from there, he began the work of founding this group called the RSS In one of Sri Aurobindo's letters dated 1932, I believe, somebody asks him What about the future of India? And Sri Aurobindo says: Yes, that is already taken care of. Meaning he has already done it on the higher levels. And he says: I'm more concerned it with what India will do with her freedom: Bolshevism or Gunda Raj - things look ominous. There's a Sri Aurobindo's statement 1932! And as you know both happened we had both: Bolshevism. That is the Nehruvian Communism, socialism whatever form it took. And the Gunda Raj: Which is the license permit Raj where the government became effectively the oppressor of the people through its controls of licenses and permits. And then there were the non-governmental entities which were the thugs, the gundas, Who then assisted people Bypassing the government which was a thug itself, To assist them bypassing the government for money to settle your problems, bypassing the existing legal system, which has failed It continues even to this day But fortunately after a certain transition about 20 years ago, the license permit Raj was dismantled Still controls were there. In the last two years even that has been removed And you have for the first time at an era of real freedom in India. So this Sri Aurobindo foresaw. And there in one of in the same series of correspondences He is asked about the Hindu-Muslim problem And he says very simply: Let the Hindus get organized and the problem will take care of itself. Now this is a very interesting observation because you have to understand the psychology of Islam I'm not speaking of Muslims: the psychology of Islam It respects strength because the whole religion is built on this following the Will of God but with strength Wherever it meets strength It respects it and creates an agreement. Where it sees weakness It tramples over. And this pattern you will see in India repeatedly Everywhere. So he said, when the Hindus get organized and there is this mutual respect the problem is solved. It's very simple What the RSS did during the freedom struggle was precisely this: to organize society primarily, of course, to fight against the British But secondarily to fight against any interest which broke the integrity of the nation: any divisive force, any divisive tendency was countered. And how?! Their whole belief is that The innate goodness in humanity is more powerful than any brainwash They believe that if you meet people one-to-one, interact, engage with each other on the level of goodwill we recognize each other and then whatever we have been taught against each other will fade out And so this was. And the second thing, they taught people to work selflessly for the nation So they have a very simple prayer at the beginning of every of their meetings. They put up a flag, which is the spiritual flag, flag of spirituality, it's not the current Indian flag, which was created later. And then they make almost like a like a prayer to Mother India Invoking her and offering themselves in her service. That's it. And the very message of that prayer is integrity, unity and selfless service. And you see very interestingly over time. That's all that they have done. They are primarily a cultural unit, Not a political unit. And so you will find they have at times entered in conflict with the Religious conversions because those are seen as divisive to Indian integrity But I was very interested to hear in... there was a public meeting and one of the RSS, then the chief announced: You know in Orissa we had this group of missionaries who had come to convert the tribals and They were lost in the forest. And they were without food and water. And our RSS people went and saved them and brought them back And he was proud of it You see, so the selflessness of the service goes even to the so-called enemy when they are in trouble. Well, you help them Nehru was against the RSS and so there was a huge campaign which began in his time First he banned RSS and then to label it as something evil and perverse and something of the leftist media has perpetuated that myths The reality on the grassroot is very different. And yet we hear so much negativity! That's the leftist media. That's the leftist media. Yes. but if you see their track record They've only worked selflessly to serve and to integrate. If not for the RSS The partition of India would have been a far more painful affair Because there was no government, They were these battles. It is they who went out and brought peace, brought the communities together, worked to reintegrate them not just along religious divisions, but also along social divisions, the caste divisions, which the British had fermented and Exaggerated. They worked to heal those and bring harmony between these communities Without wiles. Completely without wiles. Purely on goodwill and mutual exchange. And it has been the single most powerful non-governmental agency, which has worked to unify India In the last sixty years since India's freedom Thank you. So in summ: what we saw today was this big picture of the ark of the spiritual history, let's say spiritual development of India, but with it you understand world history And world... world development because this is really a focal point of the continuty of the world's Transition through these cycles. I'll just end with one example When a very famous physicist Richard Feynman, Was a young student. He was a genius He said to himself: Well, let me figure out what is this Mayan pictures So he took a book which had all these Mayan deities And began to analyze. He said: I am smart enough if an archeologist can figure out what they are I can figure it out on my own. So he went through the whole thing and he discovered certain indications Which represented numbers. And very quickly He decoded the whole thing. Each of these figureheads, gods, deities, whatever they were Represented one of the planets and the numbers represented the rotational period of the planets around the Sun So he said: Wonderful! I have decoded now the Mayan symbols of these deities. Let me see what the archaeologists say and The archaeologists had none of this. They said: Oh, this is so-and-so God for this, God for that, God for that... Nothing of the deeper Scientific knowledge or the symbolism was discovered. I'm giving this as an example to show you that Even today if you approach rationally and look at the evidence, you will see all over the world this common foundation of We will for lack of a better word, we will say a Vedic culture, all over the world. And the symbolism represented then - common across, the values - common across all these. It is in India that the continuty of this spiritual focus has been preserved while elsewhere it was lost and other forms of specialization took place And in the immediate future it is through India that the reintegration of the whole world in an underlying spiritual Experience Has to take place. And it is for this reason that Sri Aurobindo worked for India's freedom It is for this reason that the growing role of India in the world Points to or will show the way to a larger human unity. There's an interesting observation Sri Aurobindo makes that In the West when there is a revolution There is great external change, forms change and society, but internally people remain the same. But when there is a revolution in the East then There's a huge shift internally, although externally the forms may remain the same And then he says: Therefore When once again India becomes the theatre for the world's major events It will be the sign of the beginning of a new spiritual age And I say that 'therefore' is very interesting and it has profound implications I won't go into it now. And you see today all over the world is turning to India Not just for yoga, not just for the Ayurveda. Which also is there, certainly, as a therapeutic means even. That's fine. But also in terms of events Everything that's bothering anyone in the world Eventually traces back to something around India and directly relates to India. Most of the world's terrorism You will trace back to Pakistan which is directly related to India for example. Okay. And so on... And so we are seeing we are at the cusp of a very interesting transition, where India will play an increasingly more influential role but on a very different basis And hopefully it will be the spirituality of India which will guide that role that it has to play Thank you

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