As a part of the Silver Jubilee of the Department of Sociology at Pondicherry University, a series of special lectures has been organized. On February 27, 2019, Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), delivered a special lecture on the topic: ‘Self and Society: Sri Aurobindo’s Perspective’ at the Department of Sociology at Pondicherry University.
In ancient times, in any society, the greatest emphasis was on the community, and the individual was expected to fit into the community. Even then there was an ideal of a perfect individual, and this spiritual individual was dominant in the ancient India. The individual was expected to reach its perfectibility by passing through the social states of the physical, vital and mental being with satisfaction of kama, artha and dharma.
According to Sri Aurobindo, the conflict between the individual and the collectivity has reached a stage of an acute conflict of standards. The search for a unifying and harmonizing knowledge or integrality of knowledge is therefore inevitable to bring a tangible solution to the crisis that humanity faces with regard to the individual and collective life.
In the evolutionary movement it’s the individual itself who finds out and becomes conscious of the Reality and its relation with the collectivity. The individual’s allegiance therefore must be to the Truth, the Self, the Spirit, the Divine which is in him and in all. He must not lose himself in the mass, but must find and express the truth of the being in himself and help the community in its seeking for the Truth. But, so long as human is undeveloped he has to subordinate in many ways his undeveloped self to whatever is greater than it. As he moves towards the spiritual freedom he also moves towards spiritual oneness, and a spiritually liberated man is preoccupied with the good of all beings – sarva-bhuta-hite ratah.
This is how Sri Aurobindo had envisioned a spiritualized Society in which the individuals live in perfect harmony with each other and abide by the inner laws of the collective life. This was, in short, the content of Dr. Mishra’s lecture. At the end of the lecture, there was a very fruitful interaction with the students who had few genuine questions in their minds.