As part of the nation-wide celebrations of 150 years of Sri Aurobindo, a special seminar on the theme ‘Sri Aurobindo: Messenger of the Divine Influence upon the Earth’ was organised on August 12, 2023 at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata. The organising group, SATIRTHA – Sri Aurobindo’s Thoughts for Integral Realisation and Transformation of Human Awareness – invited Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Academic Mentor, to present a talk on a subject related to Sri Aurobindo’s insights on Education.
Rajmata of Tripura Smt. Bibhu Kumari Devi inaugurated the seminar by lighting the lamp.
Dr. Mehra focused her presentation on the idea that the coming new age that promises to be based on a higher consciousness, the truth-consciousness, requires a new way of looking at education. We are already aware of the evolutionary crisis humanity is going through and how education for the most part fails to base itself beyond the materialistic, rationalistic and utilitarian approach to life. Though some changes are proposed often through the rethought policy frameworks, yet nothing much changes on the ground. The only solution lies in our becoming conscious and making sincere efforts to rise from the mixed-up consciousness of the mind to higher ranges above the mind.
Taking cue from Sri Aurobindo’s writings on the Veda, Dr. Mehra highlighted that the future education requires development of four key faculties - Drishti/Sight, Shruti/Hearing, Ketu/Intuition and Daksha/Viveka. She narrated a couple of stories from the Indian tradition to highlight the significance of faculties of discernment and shruti.
Another important insight shared by Dr. Mehra focused on Sri Aurobindo’s idea of how an individual truly fulfils himself or herself. She highlighted that it is not through the utmost development of the egoistic intellect, vital force, physical well-being and the highest possible satisfaction of his mental, emotional and physical cravings but rather through the flowering of the Divine within an individual finds true fulfilment and a sense of real purpose and aim in life. This true fulfilment includes development of four essential powers – Wisdom, Courage/Strength, Love and Universality.
Dr. Mehra then connected these four essential powers to some key insights from the Mother’s writings on Psychic Education and Free Progress, and how these two when coupled with the idea of Teacher as a Yogi can help humanity prepare itself for a new education that is needed for the coming new age.
Dr. Mehra reminded that the Universality aspect of the true fulfilment of an individual necessitates that we emphasise the collective aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga and Integral Education. In this context, she spoke about Sri Aurobindo’s concept of nation-soul and its connection with the education. She also highlighted the Mother’s advice on facilitating the development of a wider outlook in the children which values diversity of cultures and human views on life and existence, while at the same time being strongly rooted in the truth of the svabhāva and inner genius of one’s own.
Other speakers at the seminar included Dr. Indrani Sanyal Among the other speakers were included Prof. Indrani Sanyal, Prof. Dilip Kr. Roy, and Prof. Makarand Paranjpe.
After the seminar, Dr. Mehra was invited by Rajmata of Tripura to her home. There, Dr. Mehra presented a copy of her book – Understanding Contemporary India in the Light of Sri Aurobindo – published by Sri Aurobindo Society to the Rajmata, who is an avid reader and appreciated the premise of looking at present-day India in the light of eternal teachings of Sri Aurobindo.