As part of Sri Aurobindo Society’s ongoing celebrations of 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, Renaissance Journal organised a special lecture-discussion happening at our campus on July 24, 2023.
Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty, a noted academic and cultural historian, was the invited speaker who shared some thoughts on the topic “Sri Aurobindo and India of the Future.”
“Our endeavour shall be to prepare the paths and to accomplish the beginning of a great and high change which we believe to be and aim at making the future of the race and the future of India. Our ideal is a new birth of humanity into the spirit; our life must be a spiritually inspired effort to create a body of action for that great new birth and creation (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 13: 509)"
The event began with a brief meditation. Dr. Beloo Mehra, Editor, Renaissance and Senior Academic Mentor, AuroBharati, welcomed the guests and introduced the distinguished speaker. Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society who was the guest of honour spoke that while Prof. Mohanty is a highly accomplished scholar, for the Aurobindonian family, he is one of the children of the Mother who has dedicated his life to taking the message of Sri Aurobindo’s vision in the world of academia.
Integrating his vast and deep study of Sri Aurobindo's works and his rigorous academic grounding in the disciplines of cultural studies and literature, Prof. Mohanty put forth a few propositions concerning what true progressivism may mean in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother's vision for the future of India and her work for humanity.
The key message that was highlighted was that it is a dynamic and futuristic spirituality, synthetic and integral in character, that India must exemplify and show to the world. It is this emerging spirit that could harmonize the dominant polarities and binaries that divide the nation and the world today.
Prof. Mohanty reminded the audience that future plays an important role in Sri Aurobindo’s writings. And in Sri Aurobindo’s futuristic vision for humanity, India must play an important role because India truly represents a microcosm of the world where not only the problems of modern mankind, but also all the ideological battles are currently taking place – many of those ideologies are in fact quite contrary to Sri Aurobindo’s vision.
To identify this, we must take recourse in Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s guidance that every idea has some truth but when it oversteps itself, it begins to express falsehood.
Prof. Mohanty highlighted that for Sri Aurobindo, the future of India, its unity and integrity go hand in hand with the future of the world. With his own advancement in yoga and spiritual realizations, Sri Aurobindo’s views on politics, society, the nation- state, and humanity underwent corresponding changes, radical in nature.
Highlighting Sri Aurobindo’s emphasis on the distinction between true subjectivism and false subjectivism, Prof. Mohanty brought in the point that if we want India’s nation-soul and not national ego to lead the onward march, contemplation must precede action. Emphasising the need for true decolonising of our mind, he reminded of Sri Aurobindo’s call for independent thinking on all matters and getting rid of the disease he called ‘Thought-phobia’.
In addition to Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman of SAS, the session was also attended by Dr. Richa Tiwari, Sri Aurobindo Chair, Pondicherry University and Prof. Dr. N. Chandramouli from the History Dept., Pondicherry University. An engaging discussion followed Prof. Mohanty’s talk. Questions ranged from the impact of Artificial Intelligence to the dangerous faultlines created in India’s polity due to the outdated theories such as Aryan-Dravidian divide. How to encourage Indian youth to imbibe the values of a life-affirming spirituality was also briefly discussed, especially in the context of Indian higher education.
The event concluded with tea; this informal opportunity to interact further with the invited speaker was appreciated by many attendees who stayed back for almost an hour after the formal event was over.
About the speaker:
Prof. Mohanty had his early education at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry and is widely published, including in the area of Sri Aurobindo Studies. He has held prestigious academic positions including Professor & HOD (English), Univ. of Hyderabad; Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Odisha; Member, Governing Board of Auroville Foundation, nominated member of India’s Commission on Education for UNESC O and more.