As a mark of commemorating the 150th Birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, the Department of Art and Culture, Government of Puducherry organized a Two day’s National Conference on the ‘Life and Works of Sri Aurobindo’ from 22-23 December, 2023 at the Union Territory of Puducherry. Talking about the cultural immortality of India, the Prime Minister earlier mentioned that “India was immortal even in the time of Maharishi Aurobindo, and it is immortal even today in the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal.” The Prime Minister's vision “That's why we have to prepare ourselves by taking inspiration from Maharishi Aurobindo and create a developed India by Sabka Prayas.” For the celebration of the 150th Birth anniversary, a commemorative coin and postal stamp were released earlier in honor of Sri Aurobindo.
As a mark paying tribute to Sri Aurobindo as well as for the celebration of the 150th Birth anniversary, Shir N. Rangasamy, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Puducherry in the budget speech declared for the organization of a National Conference on the ‘Life and Works of Sri Aurobindo.’ Objective of the conference was to highlight the contribution of Sri Aurobindo, the yogi, seer, philosopher, poet and Indian nationalist who propounded the philosophy of divine life on earth. He has given special emphasis on the divinity that would hasten the descent of the Divine into earthly life and transform it into a Divine Life. Scholars and devotees from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Society, Auroville Foundation and various academic institutions participated and spoke on the life and works of Sri Aurobindo during the two day’s conference.
The inaugural session of a two-day national conference, held as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of revolutionary poet-cum-nationalist Sri Aurobindo, turned out to be an occasion for Chief Minister N. Rangasamy to reflect on the nature of spirituality. The program was started with the Mangala Isai by the faculty of Bharathiar Centre for Performing Art, Government of Puducherry. The Chief Minister offered floral tribute at the sand statue by the students of department of art and culture and also inaugurated the exhibition made by Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The Chief Minister, also inaugurated the exhibition on ‘The Life and Works of Sri Aurobindo’ Curated by Sri Aurobindo Ashram. On this occasion, a painting camp by the students of Bharathiar Centre was also organized.
During the inaugural session, Dr Jayanta Kumar, Secretary to the government of Puducherry welcomed the dignitaries and highlighted the significance of the national conference on the Life and Works of Sri Aurobindo. The film on the life and works of Sri Aurobindo was presented by Dr R Ravi was screened during the occasion.
Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry said that this is an important subject that needs to be studied and Sri Aurobindo’s contribution to the freedom fighting is a remarkable experience. He appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Government and said that Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Society and Auroville Foundation need to work harmoniously to work for social transformation.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Minister said people might have different views on the subject of spirituality, but it certainly helps “bring a transformation in the mind.” The Chief Minister also said that “Starting a spiritual journey is not easy. Some people may ask about the gains you make after becoming spiritual. But only those who have undergone the spiritual journey will understand its importance. Even if you don’t get anything [else], you will attain peace of mind. Being spiritual also helps control desire.”
Shri K. Lakshminarayan said that Maharshi Aurobindo contributed not only in the field of freedom fighting but also to the spirituality as well. Sai Saravan Kumar said that Sri Aurobindo has given both freedom fighter and spiritual leader. He considered Puducherry as Punyabhumi. It is due to his message the freedom fighting was spread across the country to a large extent. He emphasized that more programs need to be organized to understand the contribution of Mahan Aravindo. It requires years together to understand the spiritual contribution. His literary writings focussed on World unity which is the need of the hour. The speaker Shri Selvam said that said that though he was born in Bengal he died at Puducherry and Pondicherry is the right place to celebrate his celebration. Shri V. Kaliaperumal, Director, Department of art and Culture presented the vote of thanks.
Plenary Session of the conference focussed on ‘the life and contributions of Maharshi Aurobindo. Shri Matri Prasad, Secretary, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry, Smt. K. Swarnambika, IPS, Deputy Secretary, Auroville Foundation and Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry spoke during this session. Shri Matri Prasad, Secretary, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust said that Sri Aurobindo has instilled the spirit of nationalism which could last for a long period and had his roots for the long run and India was independent. He emphasized on the ideas of nationalism and spoke about the India’s contribution for the upliftment of humanity.
Smt. K. Swarnambika, IPS, Deputy Secretary, Auroville Foundation, spoke about the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and spoke about the spirit of Auroville, as an experimental township in the southern part of India, founded in 1968 as a universal town where people from all over the world could live in harmony, regardless of nationality, culture, religion, or creed. She emphasized on the basic principles of Auroville, including Unity in diversity.
Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, & Co-ordination Officer of the Conference, Puducherry said about the contribution by the renowned Indian philosopher, yogi, and nationalist who played a significant role in India's independence movement against British rule in the early 20th century. He spoke about the ideas of nationalism of Sri Aurobindo, which was instrumental to demand Poorna Swaraj. Emphasizing on the ideas of internationalism, he said that his concept of nationalism was beyond political independence. Regarding Indian culture, Sri Aurobindo held a deep reverence for its spiritual and philosophical heritage. He believed that India's ancient wisdom and spiritual knowledge had much to offer to the world in terms of universal values, human unity, and the evolution of consciousness.
Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty, Former VC, Orissa, Central University chaired the session ‘Sri Aurobindo: Poet, Philosopher and Indian Nationalist, Dr. Alok Pandey, Devotee, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry, Prof. Prafulla Kumar Mishra, Former Chancellor, Dr Rajendra Prasad Central University, Bihar and Shri Annai Adigal, Author, Tamil Nadu presented papers on Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, Sanskrit Poetry ‘Bhavani Bharati’- A Patriotic poetry for Freedom Movement and Sri Aurobindo’s glimpse of Savitri. The session focussed on Sri Aurobindo's philosophy centered on the concept of Integral Yoga, which seeks the divine realization not only in the transcendent spiritual realm but also within the material world. This epic poem, "Savitri," is a symbolic tale that explores the journey of the soul, the challenges faced in the quest for spiritual enlightenment, and the eventual victory of divine love over death. Sri Aurobindo's philosophy and poetry continue to inspire many in their pursuit of spiritual growth, emphasizing the possibility of a divine transformation in human life, the evolution of consciousness, and the integral development of the individual and society.
Academic session on ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Vision of Consciousness and Spirituality: Integral Approach’ was chaired by Dr Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry. Scholars representing various institutions, including Shri Angshuman Basu, SAO, Auroville Foundation, Dr. S. Padma Priya, Professor, Pondicherry University, Dr. Lakshmi Ayar, Professor, Central University of Rajasthan, Dr. Debiprasad Mishra, FIP, Puducherry, Mr. Larry Seidlitz, Puducherry, Shri Sanjay Kumar Sharma, Puducherry and Shri Nowang Tsering Shakspoo, Director, Centre for Research on Ladakh presented their views on Sri Aurobindo’s vision of consciousness and spirituality. The session focussed on the integral approach ‘True spirituality is not to renounce life, but to make life perfect with the Divine Perfection.’ Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Tripathy said that an integral approach to consciousness and spirituality is a comprehensive framework that seeks to encompass multiple perspectives, traditions, and dimensions of human experience. The teachings of Sri Aurobindo transcend reductionism by recognizing the complexity and richness of human consciousness. Here are some key elements of an integral approach to consciousness and spirituality:
Dr. Sunil Behari Mohanty, President, AIAER, Puducherry chaired a session on ‘Teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Contemporary World.’ Dr. Sukanya Sarkel, Asst, Professor, Dept. of Management Studies, St.Xavier’s College, Kolkata, Prof. Surendra Singh Chauhan, SAICE Alumni, Kalaimamani Dr Devi Thiruvalavan, Puducherry, Dr. Gopal Jayaraman, Regional Director, IGNCA, Puducherry, Dr Prasenjit Sarkel, Associate Professor, Department of Economics University of Kalyani, and Kalaimamani Kannappan, Puducherry presented their papers. They spoke on various topics, such as Synthesis of Yoga-An Analysis, Economic Growth, Human Development and happiness in the light of Sri Aurobindo, The Eternal Relevance of Sri Aurobindo’s Message, Sri Aurobindo in Puducherry & His Teachings, Yogic-Internal Expression and Economic Progress, Quality of Life and Sustainable Development Goals: Some Insights from Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo believed in the evolutionary process of consciousness, where humanity is on a path of continual growth and development. Sri Aurobindo emphasized the practice of Integral Yoga, which aimed at the transformation of the entire being—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. He envisioned a future where the divine consciousness would manifest in human beings, leading to a spiritualized society where individuals lived in harmony, unity, and cooperation, guided by higher spiritual principles rather than ego-driven motives.
The session, ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Vision of Unity in Diversity’ was chaired by Prof. P. Raja, Puducherry and Shri Bhaskar Mukherjee, West Bengal and Ms Prapti Sarkel, Reporter, The Telegraph – In School spoke on Sri Aurobindo’s Concept of Education and Sri Aurobindo’s Contribution to Bengali Renaissance. The session focussed on the vision of Sri Aurobindo, especially, the oneness of all beings at a deeper spiritual level. He believed that beyond the apparent differences in cultures, religions, and races, there exists a fundamental spiritual unity that connects all of humanity. He advocated for a harmonious coexistence of diverse elements in society. He envisioned a global society where diverse cultures and civilizations could collaborate and contribute collectively to the progress of humanity while respecting each other's uniqueness.
Amazing cultural programs, Classical Dance on the theme of life history of Sri Aurobindo was organized by Kalaimamani Marie Stella, Kalaiaalayam Dance Academy, Puducherry.
And Martial Arts -Mallkhamba- Dr. Ganesh, Kshatriya Academy, Puducherry.
On the second day of the conference, delegates and participants visited Auroville. They enjoyed the beautiful atmosphere of Auroville-City of the Future. On this occasion, a panel discussion on the theme ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity’ was organized at Bharat Nivas. The session was inaugurated by Smt. K. Swarnambika, IPS, Deputy Secretary, Auroville Foundation. In her speech, Mrs. Swarnambika spoke about the objectives of Auroville and the need of a sustainable future of humanity. Shri V. Kaliaperumal, Director, Dept of Art & Culture, Govt of Puducherry, in his speech appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Auroville Management and emphasized that unity is the essential need of humanity. Prof. Prafulla Kumar Mishra, Former Chancellor, Dr Rajendra Prasad Central University, Bihar highlighted about the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for creating a world that is free from nationality, religion and caste. Dr. Sanjeev Ranganathan, SAIIER, Auroville Pondicherry, spoke about the importance of integral education ‘Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.’ Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry said about the need of creating a better world and the importance of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother for establishing the city of the future, particularly ‘the bridge between the past and the future.’ On this occasion, Classical Dance by Dinaker and troupes, Udhayam Natiyalaya, Puducherry. Folk Dance(Thappatam) by Prakash and troupe AthirvugalKalaikuzhu, Puducherry and Martial Arts (Silambam) by Pazhanivel and troupe MamallanSilambam and natupura Kalaivalarchikazhagam, Puducherry were performed.
Academic session on ‘Sri Aurobindo’s vision of world unity, peace and sustainability’ was chaired by Prof. Prafulla Kumar Mishra, Former Chancellor, Dr Rajendra Prasad Central University, Bihar and Dr M.E. Krishana Kumar, Asst Professor Tamil Kanchi Mamunivar Govt Institute for PG Studies & Research, Puducherry, Dr Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, Aurobharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, Dr. Y. Venkat Rao, Professor & Dean, Pondicherry University, Dr. G. Revati, HoD, Tagore Government Arts & Science College. Puducherry and Kalaimamani Dr. N Raja Selvam, Puducherry presented their papers. The session focussed on important areas related to the vision of unity and sustainability including Sri Aurobindo’s inspiration of Bharathiar’s Poetry on “Kannan”, Five Dreams of Sri Aurobindo: World unity, peace and sustainability, Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo& Spirituality, and Life and Principles of Sri Aurobindo and Philosophy & Education in the light of Sri Aurobindo. His vision emphasized the idea of unifying diverse elements, not through uniformity or homogeneity, but by recognizing and harmonizing the underlying unity that exists amidst the apparent diversity. Sri Aurobindo emphasized the oneness of all beings at a deeper spiritual level. He believed that beyond the apparent differences in cultures, religions, and races, there exists a fundamental spiritual unity that connects all of humanity. Sri Aurobindo's vision of unity in diversity invites people to transcend divisive boundaries and recognize the underlying unity that connects all of creation.
The conference also included a Poetry Recitation Session focussing on the Poems of Sri Aurobindo and Mahakavi Subramania Bharati and the session was chaired by Kalaimamani Dr Devi Thiruvalavan. Shri V. Kaliaperumal, Director, Dept. of Art & Culture, Puducherry, Dr Rajendran Kannan, MGMCRI, Puducherry, Shri Ansul, Puducherry. Sri Aurobindo and Mahakavi Subramania Bharati were influential poets who contributed significantly not only in the field of the freedom movement, but also spirituality and social development. Sri Aurobindo was not only a poet but also a philosopher, yogi, and spiritual leader. His poems often reflect his spiritual insights and experiences. Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, also known as Bharathiyar, was a revolutionary Tamil poet known for his patriotism, social reform, and powerful verses. The participants presented some of the beautiful poems by Sri Aurobindo and Mahakavi Subramania Bharati and left a lasting impact with their insightful and evocative verses.
Academic session on ‘Education, Integral Approach and Sustainability’ was chaired by
Shri Matri Prasad, Secretary, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty, Former VC, Orissa, Central University, Dr.Beloo Mehra, Editor, Renaissance & Senior Academic Mentor, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, Shei Devdeep Ganguli, Faculty Member, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education and Dr. Sunil Behari Mohanty, President, AIAER, Puducherry presented their papers on important factors of Integral education. Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty, Former VC, Orissa, Central University spoke on Sri Aurobindo and the problem of Self-Determination. Dr.Beloo Mehra, emphasized on Promoting Indian Cultural Values through Education: Insights from Sri Aurobindo. Shri Devdeep Ganguli, spoke on National Value of Art and Dr. Sunil Behari Mohanty emphasized on the Educational Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo. The session highlighted the spirit of Integral Education, which encompasses various aspects of human life, including education, spirituality, and sustainability. Sri Aurobindo's integral approach emphasizes the unity and interconnectedness of all aspects of existence, seeking to integrate the spiritual, mental, physical, and social dimensions of life.
A special session focussing on ‘Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry and His Interactions with Mahakavi Subramania Bharati & other Leaders’ was chaired by Dr. R Ravi, Film Director, Puducherry. Dr. A. Kanagaraj, Former Research Assistant, Bharatiyar Museum, Kalaimamani Thiru Sundara Murugan, Poet, Puducherry, Prof. P. Raja, Puducherry, Dr.Sengamala.Thaya, Bharatiyar Museum, and Dr. R. Vishalakshi, Asst. Professor of Tamil, Indira Gandhi Arts & Science College participated and presented their views on specific areas, including Sri Aurobindo and Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, Patriotic Ideas of Sri Aurobindo and Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, Interrelationship between Sri Aurobindo and Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, Sri Aurobindo and the leaders of Pondicherry: Literary Peculiarities.
On this occasion, a Film by Sri Aurobindo Society ‘Sri Aurobindo A New Dawn’(A Studio Eeksaurus Production) was screened. Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society made a brief presentation about the film. The purpose of this film is to inspire and give a direction to the youth of India and the world through the story of Sri Aurobindo using a modern animation film medium as a work of timeless art. This film traces the unfolding of Sri Aurobindo's vision and works in the context of his role in establishing the will to freedom in India and his departure to Pondicherry where he will embark upon his global mission with his spiritual collaborator known as the Mother. Participants of the conference greatly enjoyed the movie and appreciated the efforts undertaken by Sri Aurobindo Society to portray the life of Sri Aurobindo.
The valedictory session was attended by Prof. K. Tharanikkarasu, Vice-Chancellor (i/c), Pondicherry University, Shri. A. John Kumar, Member of Legislative Assembly, Kamaraj Nagar, Puducherry, Shri V. Kaliaperumal, Director of Art & Culture and Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society. Prof. K. Tharanikkarasu, Vice-Chancellor (i/c), Pondicherry University highlighted about the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and said that his teachings are still relevant for the contemporary world. He emphasized on the idea of Renaissance based on the true teachings of the Vedas and other Indian scriptures. Shri. A. John Kumar, Member of Legislative Assembly, Kamaraj Nagar, Puducherry, in his speech, considered Sri Aurobindo as the God. He mentioned that the spiritual ideas mentioned by Sri Aurobindo, including Yoga and consciousness are the outstanding contribution for humanity. Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty, Former VC, Central University of Orissa highlighted the importance of Vedapuri and thanked the government of Puducherry for organizing such a beautiful conference. Prof. Surendra Singh Chauhan, SAICE Alumni emphasized on the love and compassion of Sri Aurobindo for Mother India. Wrap-up of the conference was done by Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society, and Puducherry & Member of the Committee/Co W ordination Officer for the National Conference on ‘Life & Works of Sri Aurobindo.’ Shri V. Kaliaperumal, Director of Art & Culture highlighted the teachings of Sri Aurobinndo and emphasized that more activities to be undertaken for the promotion of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo with special emphasis on community development, peace and sustainability. The valedictory session was followed by cultural program, including Dance/Drama: Madhumita Patnaik troupes, folk dance (Kaliattam) Kalaimamani Veerandiran Prem Pavadairayan Gramiya Kalaikuzhu, Puducherry.