As part of our ongoing celebrations of the 150th year of Sri Aurobindo and Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Sri Aurobindo Society organised a series of webinars starting January 2023. This series was directly inspired by Sri Aurobindo Society’s core mission, namely to spread the light and message of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through various educational, social, cultural and spiritual offerings.
Planning for this series started in November 2022, with Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Academic Mentor, AuroBharati, interacting with a small group of Indian-Americans who have interest in Sri Aurobindo’s works and are working to disseminate the vision of Sri Aurobindo in the USA.
The key feature of this online study programme was to introduce the participants to the visionary works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. We were supported by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Shastry Institute of Vedic Culture (SAKSHI Trust), Bengaluru.
This series explored the question – “What is New in Sri Aurobindo” through several sub-themes In total, 6 webinars were conducted during a period of 3 months. Each session was 1.5-hour-long; some stretched to 2 hours during late evenings on Sundays. About 20-30 minutes were reserved in each session for discussion and Q & A after the facilitator’s presentation.
Each of the sessions was facilitated by expert scholars and highlighted carefully curated passages from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to bring out the unique aspects of the topic. A team of three facilitators – Dr. Beloo Mehra, Dr. Nagendra N. and Ms. Lakshmi Jyothi – was identified for the series.
Topics or themes taken up during the series include
- Introduction – What is New in Sri Aurobindo (All facilitators)
- Sri Aurobindo: From Politics to Yoga (Dr. Beloo Mehra and Ms. Lakshmi Jyothi)
- Sri Aurobindo’s Fresh Light on the Veda and Upanishad (Dr. Nagendra N. – SAKSHI Trust)
- The Mother’s Arrival and the New Consciousness (Dr. Beloo Mehra)
- India, World and the Humanity (Ms. Lakshmi Jyothi)
- Panel Discussion (All facilitators)
With Mother’s blessings more than 150 people registered for the program – from India, USA and Australia. A Whatsapp group was also created for the series; which also served as a place for follow-up discussions and clarifications after each session.
Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society was the Chief Guest at the introductory webinar held on January 15, 2023. He briefed the online gathering about the mission and vision of Sri Aurobindo Society, and what inner questions brought him to Sri Aurobindo in whose vision and work he found a new light on the true meaning of spirituality as applied to life and a new direction to his life.
All the three facilitators also spoke briefly about their understanding of what makes Sri Aurobindo’s vision on the future of humanity and life most elevating and inspiring.
Dr. Beloo Mehra started by reminding everyone that when we think of what is new in Sri Aurobindo – the two words that almost immediately come to mind are – Perfection and Transformation.
She added that one of the most significant truths revealed by Sri Aurobindo concerns the essential impulse that is always working from behind the human civilisation’s progressive march toward its ultimate destiny. That destiny is to transform earthly life into a divine life, to bring down the kingdom of God on earth, to establish the true Ram-rajya, the true reign of dharma. All these are different conceptions given to the same aspiration hidden deep in the heart of humanity – that of perfecting Life and World.
This aspiration is there in human heart because, as Sri Aurobindo tells us, it is in truth a Will of the Divine, to make the earth a heaven. Perfecting Life and World may sound over-optimistic or even presumptuous to our limited mind and reason, especially when with our limited human consciousness we look around, and all we see is chaos, conflict and disharmony.
What we need is the capability and faculty to see beneath and behind the surface of all outer march of humanity with a vision that is both free of mental preferences or ideological reasoning and is also capable of seeing the larger forces at work.
Dr. Mehra pointed out that our present earthly existence including the various crises we face in the world today are a creation of mental consciousness which, in turn, is limited by and subject to its own nature – that is the nature of the mind.
A new consciousness, one that is wider, higher, and deeper – that alone is the key to the evolutionary crisis facing humanity. This is where we find the true significance of the tremendous yogic work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, she added.
They brought down on the earth a new supramental, Truth-consciousness which alone is capable of not only manifesting a new creation but can also accelerate the very pace of evolutionary process working behind the outer march of humanity and world.
The next webinar on January 19 focused on the theme – Sri Aurobindo: From Politics to Yoga. While a brief account was given of the revolutionary nationalist aspect of Sri Aurobindo, the emphasis was on highlighting how his political work was also guided by his yogic understanding of the truth of the soul of India and the work India is destined to do for the future upliftment of the humanity. Ms. Lakshmi Jyothi and Dr. Beloo Mehra co-facilitated the session. Special focus was on Sri Aurobindo’s Alipore prison experience and his Uttarpara speech. The deep significance of the message of Uttarpara speech for today’s and tomorrow’s India was highlighted specifically by Dr. Mehra.
February 5th webinar focusing on the theme – Sri Aurobindo’s Fresh Light on the Veda and Upanishads – was facilitated by Dr. Nagendra from SASKHI Trust, Bengaluru. He brought out the unique psychological-spiritual interpretation of the Veda which Sri Aurobindo has given us by highlighting a few specific hymns from Rig Veda. He explained the symbolic meanings of some of the key Vedic terms and the inner meaning of Vedic Yagna. The significance of this inner symbolic interpretation of the Veda for the present humanity which has arrived at a certain evolution of the mental being was also discussed.
The next webinar was held on February 19 which was facilitated by Dr. Beloo Mehra. This focused on the topic – The Mother’s Arrival and the New Consciousness. A detailed report about this is available HERE. The focus of Dr. Mehra’s presentation was to highlight the immense yogic work of the Mother in bringing down the Supramental Consciousness. A brief overview of the Mother’s early preparation as an integral personality and her sadhana prior to meeting Sri Aurobindo was also given. Time was spent on discussing the Mother’s first meeting with Sri Aurobindo and what it meant for her sadhana and her collaboration with Sri Aurobindo. The deeper significance of the Mother’s second and final arrival at Pondicherry was also briefly discussed.
The fifth webinar in the series on March 5 was facilitated by Ms. Lakshmi Jyothi on the theme – India, World and Humanity. This session brought to light the social and political philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, his vision for the human unity founded on a spiritual oneness and the work India has to do to raise herself as a spiritual guru for the world and humanity. Ms. Jyothi briefly explained the different stages of psychological evolution that human societies go through as explained by Sri Aurobindo. She pointed out the significance of this understanding for appreciating the march of human civilisation and the future progression that it is destined toward. Pointing out what Sri Aurobindo has said about the significance of a true renaissance and rebirth of India for the future of humanity, she highlighted three key tasks that lie ahead of all Indians.
The last webinar on March 19 was organised as a panel discussion where all the three facilitators addressed some of the questions put forth by the participants. Some of these questions were about the previous four sessions. Additionally, a specific theme was also taken up in this session – how to practice the teachings of Integral Yoga in daily life. Each of the facilitators addressed this question which helped bring a multiple of perspectives making the presentation richer for everyone.
Some follow-up discussion also happened for a week in the Whatsapp group. Ideas were exchanged to further carry the work started in this webinar series by focusing on other aspects including Integral Education. The series officially ended on March 26, 2023.