Humour and Spirituality – An Interactive Session

Start Date:06-Mar-2024

End Date:06-Mar-2024

Location:Tagore Govt. Arts and Science College, Pondicherry


On March 6, 2024, the Renaissance journal team conducted an interactive session with the college students and faculty of Tagore Govt. Arts and Science College, Pondicherry on the theme of Humour and Spirituality -- Exploring how humour has been used as a method to impart spiritual wisdom.

The initial planning was done by Dr. Beloo Mehra, Editor, Renaissance Journal in discussion with Dr. Sasi Kanta Dash, Principal, Tagore College. Following this, the detailed coordination and arrangements were handled by Dr. Beenu Marcus, Assistant Professor, English Dept, Tagore College and Ms. Biswajita Mohapatra, Research Assistant, Renaissance Journal.

The 2-hour session on March 6 began with a welcome address by Dr. Sasi Kanta Dash. He introduced the speakers Dr Beloo Mehra, Editor and Narendra Murty, Author and Renaissance Core Team-member. He expressed his extreme happiness that though Tagore College has a MOU with Sri Aurobindo Society, this happened to be the first event to be organised jointly.

Dr. Dash said that he was happy to host this unique programme because he wants students of Tagore college to be exposed to a culture of intellectual discourse. He stressed the need for the younger generation to get acquainted with our culture and learn about the spiritual wisdom embodied by great personalities such as Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo.  

Thereafter, Dr Beloo Mehra, gave the Introductory Address wherein she spoke about the lesser known side of Sri Aurobindo’s multi-faceted personality – his Humour. Contrary to popular perception that Sri Aurobindo was an extremely grave and serious person, Dr Mehra cited various anecdotes from the writings of Nirodbaran, which clearly bring out the human and humourous side of the great Mahayogi. The presentation was accompanied with a display of a few pictures of Sri Aurobindo from various stages of his life.

This was followed by the Keynote Address by Mr. Narendra Murty. An award-winning author of 4 books, Mr. Murty is a core member of Renaissance team and writes regularly for the journal. He spoke on the main theme – the relation between Humour and Spirituality. Through some opening questions and answers, he highlighted that Ananda is a Divine attribute and any genuine spirituality has to be accompanied by joy and inner happiness. That is why in the Sufi tradition, laughter and joy have been used to impart spiritual wisdom.

He informed the audience that over a thousand years, the jokes of Mulla Nasrudin have been created by the Sufi Masters as meditation exercises for their disciples. The Masters would tell a couple of jokes to their disciples and they were supposed to meditate on the jokes to arrive at the deeper philosophical and spiritual meaning that lay hidden beneath the surface level of the joke. The Sufi Masters claimed that deep meditation on the jokes brought about an inner transformation making the mind fit for receiving the higher levels of wisdom.

Thereafter, Mr Murty narrated two delightful Nasrudin jokes and dissected the meaning of the jokes layer by layer and brought out the inner spiritual wisdom concealed in them. All this was done in a very simple and approachable manner, and using light-hearted interaction with the participants.

Mr. Murty said that these two jokes were only representative of the vast store of wisdom in such jokes. He briefly shared about his book EATING HIS MONEY – The Antics of a Metaphysical Clown which contains his commentaries on twenty-five jokes of Mulla Nasrudin accompanied by a funny hand drawn sketches for each joke. Two such funny sketches were also shown to the audience.

The audience listened with rapt attention and a lively interaction followed with the faculty and the students based on the presentation. Dr. Kala, the Head of the English Department, Tagore College also shared a few insights related to the theme of the session. A few complimentary copies of Mr. Murty’s book ‘Eating His Money’ were also handed out to interested students and faculty members.

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Beenu Marcus. Principal Dr. Dash also conveyed his happiness for being a host to such a unique event and expressed hope that more such events would be held in future, jointly with Sri Aurobindo Society.