This morning the meditation at Sri Aurobindo Society inspired me to revisit Sri Aurobindo’s speech broadcast from All India Radio, Thiruchirapalli, on the 14th of August, 1947 on the eve of India’s Independence Day. It is significant the India became independent on the 15th of august, also the date of Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, who dream it was to see India a free nation and to which he devoted himself all his life with many sacrifices.
In his speech on this occasion he put forward five dreams that he had for India together with his concerns as he looked back on the revolutionary movement of which he was a part and forward to what he hoped the future might bring. At the very moment of independence it seemed that the country would fall back into the chaos of separate states that it was before the British conquest. He was referring to the maneuvers of the princely states as the rulers tried to keep their kingdoms intact rather than join the newly independent democratic nation that was emerging and seeking to establish itself. That danger, he said, had been largely averted.
The radical wisdom of the Constituent Assembly had negotiated its way out of another danger by solving the problem of the depressed classes to a large extent without schism or failure. He was referring to the caste and other inequities that were rampant in Indian society. However, he was concerned that the communal divisions into Hindus and Muslims had hardened leading to partition of the country leaving India weak and crippled; her position in the comity of nation too had been crippled and her destiny frustrated or even impaired.
As Sri Aurobindo mulled over his contemporary scenario, his fervent hope was that the partition would finally be undone because an increasing necessity would be felt for peace and also because it would be realized that without peace no common action was possible. What form the unity would pragmatically take, was not known but eventually it had to come.
Another dream that Sri Aurobindo had was that of the resurgence and liberation of Asia to enable her to come out colonialism and play her civilizational role in the world. He saw India as taking her legitimate part in this endeavor. The third dream was that of a world union that would ensure a fairer and better life for all human beings. There was a movement, he felt, in that direction although a tremulous one. Here, too, India would have to play her part as she moved towards her own brighter future. Sri Aurobindo was sure that world unification would eventually take place for the future of humanity although difficulties and even seemingly insurmountable obstacles might intervene in the short term.
The fourth dream was that India’s spirituality, her basic core, would increasingly enter Europe and America. The final dream was that humanity would be part of the step in evolution that would raise human beings to higher and higher consciousness. This would begin the solution of the problems that have perplexed and vexed human beings since individuals began to think and envision perfection for themselves and society.
Sri Aurobindo was aware that the difficulties in the way of this dream were more formidable than in any other endeavor but these had to be overcome; and if the Supreme Will was there, they would be. Growth in this endeavor depended on the inner working of the spirit and consciousness and so the initiative had to come from India with her essential spirituality although the scope had to be finally universal.
So have many of these dreams have been fulfilled? The communal divide seems to have fallen prey to the vote bank politics of Indian democracy and relationship between India and Pakistan has been rocky at the best taking a huge toll of human lives and material resources. The hope albeit a feeble one, is that sane people on both sides of the border do realize that the path to prosperity goes via peace. But will egos, vested interests and bigotry on both sides snuff out this feeble hope?
Again, the issue of the depressed classes may have found a solution by the Constitution at that time but sixty six years after independence, the same vote bank politics that exploits the communal divide, is creating fissures and divisiveness among castes and classes. The unholy potpourri of feudal mindsets, colonial and archaic laws, naked market forces and loss of values in the determined pursuit of money and material resources has deepened the divisions of society and ensured that it is quixotic and anachronistic to talk of spirituality.
So how will India lead in Asia and spread her light of spirituality if she herself is mired in pettiness and corruption? Have the dreams of Sri Aurobindo been betrayed or is this a necessary stage in the path of evolution?