November 13, 2005

Spiritual anarchy

Sherer, Jean Benedict
Setting the Words to Music:
Sri Aurobindo Ghose's Theological Encounter with the Modern World
evaluates the political ideology, theology and attendant organizations of Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) as agents in the modernization of India. Modernization is described as the processes by which societies become increasingly individualistic, egalitarian, literate, democratic and industrialized. The Indian caste system suggests additional processes, such as Sanskritization.
  • Between 1892 and 1908, Aurobindo espoused an Extremist Party programme of swaraj, swadeshi, boycott and National Education. His methods--political meetings and journalism--and his message--swaraj or Indian independence--were modernized and modernizing.
  • In 1910, after a year in prison and extensive yogic experimentation, Aurobindo turned from political activism to spiritual sadhana. The theological system he created, integral or purna advaita, worked major themes of Indian tradition into a synthetic whole. Aurobindo's integralism was unusual in that it sought the transformation of self and world into perfect expressions of the divine.
  • The social ideal he sought went beyond modernity as conceived in the West to a post- modern "spiritual anarchy" in which the identity of individuals with the divine took priority over communalism. The organizations that grew out of the Aurobindian synthesis, especially the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, illustrate Aurobindo's integralism as a practical discipline. The Ashram in Pondicherry pursues a relatively traditional sadhana and attempts to train a community of yogins capable of spearheading evolution towards divinity.
  • In Auroville, the residents attempt to build a model community according to Aurobindian principles, particularly his ideas of evolution toward divinity and "spiritual anarchy." Auroville's internationalism and social commitment make Aurobindoism more than "just a cult." Aurobindo's theology, Auroville and the Ashram all seek a spiritually-grounded response to the inadequacies of modernity.
  • Their contributions to the practical modernization of India have been limited--a spiritual a priori is always inconsistent with modern rationalism-- yet they indicate alternatives to uncritical social development.

[1th ed.].- 1983.- xv, 346 leaves; 28 cm.- NOTES: Thesis (Ph. D.)--Emory University; 0665, 1983. Bibliography: leaves [335]-346.- DAI, VOL. 44-12A, Page 3717, 00369 Pages.- [2th ed.].- 1984.- xv, 346 p.- NOTES: Thesis (Ph. D.)--Emory University, 1983. Bibliography: p. [335]-346. Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International, 1984. 21 cm.

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