August 28, 2006

Approaching with devotional practices

The transformation of many individuals would make it possible for society as a whole to be transformed. A first step in this direction would be the gathering of individuals striving for change in spiritually oriented communities.

A community of sorts had taken form around Sri Aurobindo during the early years of his stay in Pondicherry. This group assumed a more organized shape after the arrival of The Mother. In 1926, he handed control of the ashram to her…She directed the inner and outer lives of the members, while he oversaw things from behind.

Most members of the ashram came from Hindu backgrounds and felt comfortable approaching Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in ways associated with Hindu devotional practices: darshan, pranam, and so forth. Sri Aurobindo permitted and in some cases encouraged these expressions…[Edited] From the Introduction by Peter Heehs; Nationalism, Religion, and Beyond: Writings on Politics, Society, and Culture by Sri Aurobindo, 2005
Nationalism, Religion and Beyond : Writings on Politics, Society and Culture/Sri Aurobindo. Edited by Peter Heehs. New Delhi, Permanent Black, 2005, x, 364 p., $36. ISBN 81-7824-139-0. Contents: Preface. Introduction. 1. Cultural nationalism. 2. Political nationalism. 3. Religion. 4. Religion and nationalism. 5. Beyond nationalism. 6. Beyond religion. Sources. Glossary. Index.
"Sri Aurobindo is best known as a philosopher and yogi, as one of the early leaders of the Indian Nationalist Movement who also wrote extensively on politics, society, and culture.
His contributions to these fields, although original and often ahead of their time, have not received the attention they deserve. One reason for this is that they are scattered through six or seven volumes of his complete works. Another is their apparent datedness.
But the most important of Aurobindo's writings on these subjects are as interesting now as when they were written, for they deal with matters of perennial concern--such as on cultural identity, and the place of spirituality in society.
Peter Heehs--well-known historian and biographer of Aurobindo-overcomes the first problem (of scattered sources) by selecting representative passages from the entire body of Aurobindo's works. He deals with the second problem (of Aurobindo's seeming datedness) by providing historical background, and by relating Aurobindo's social, cultural, and political ideas to those of contemporary theorists.
Heehs's anthology confronts common misunderstandings by scholars and politicians who reduce Aurobindo's complex thinking to a collection of cliches. Additionally, given the manner in which the leading figures of Hinduism have been appropriated by Hindu fundamentalists, this anthology is a vital corrective. It provides a nuanced and contextualized understanding of one of India's most influential thinkers."
Nationalism, Religion, and Beyond: Writings on Politics, Society, and Culture — Edited by Peter Heehs Permanent Black, Delhi SABDA – Distributors of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publications

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