Shri Gopal Bhattacharjee April 27, 1991
It is a very proud moment for me today, to stand before this august assembly at King's College, Cambridge, which served as the alma mater of my master, Sri Aurobindo, who spent the most impressionable years of his life in this venerable Centre of learning. There are many institutions in England which have played an important role in the development and growth of the Indian mind during the last rwo centuries. Oxford and Cambridge, in particular, occupy an outstanding position in this regard. I think it will not be remiss if, before dwelling on the subject in hand, I revert briefly to my Master's own experience of University life. In a lecture delivered at the Baroda College, where he served as a professor, he recalls with great pleasure: "I think there is no student of Oxford or Cambridge who does not look back in after days on the few years of his undergraduate life. He goes up from the restricted life of his home and school and finds himself in surroundings which, with astonishing rapidity, expand his intellect, strengthen his character, develop his social faculties, force out all his abilities and turn him in three years from a boy into a man." Today, an inscrutable wind blows across the world. All that seemed certain once, now rests on the shadowy back of doubt. All that was considered stable is now perceived to be in a state of constant flux. Under the present circumstances, in the context of all the major events of our civilisation, past and present, I feel it would not be an exaggeration if I said that Sri Aurobindo embodied within himself the highest aspirations and hopes of a humanity that is emerging from an old order which is now crumbling and moving towards a resplendent future that is to be born. We do not belong to past dawns but to the noons of the future! The theme for our discussion today is: Sri Aurobindo - His Contribution to Humanity. I must however hasten to add that Sri Aurobindo represents a truth which is too vast for the human mind to comprehend. He has himself written of this in no uncertain terms and I quote: "My life has never been on the surface for man to see." In the words of The Mother who was the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo: "What Sri Aurobindo represents in the history of the earth's spiritual progress is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a mighty action straight from the Supreme." I shall therefore make a modest attempt at highlighting the cardinal principles upon which rests his contributions to Humanity. All the tablets of history bear testimony to the fact that whenever man forgot the real meaning and purpose of his life and felt lost in the spiritual darkness of his being a mighty soul, manifesting the power of God, has descended upon earth to help in the advancement of human consciousness in consonance with the Divine telos or evolutionary aim in nature. At present mankind is undergoing a similar evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny. "Humanity has arrived at a certain stage of general tension -tension in effort, tension in action, tension in every day life - and an overactivity so excessive, a restlessness so widespread that the whole human race seems to have reached a point where either one has to break through a resistance and rise into a new consciousness or fall back into an abyss of obscurity and inertia." There is therefore hardly a clear appreciation of the fact that the root-cause of these inordinate tensions everywhere lies in the inner consciousness of modern man. All the cacophonous upheavals in the political, economic, social, moral and religious spheres are only symptomatic of a total spiritual bankruptcy from which modern man suffers at the very core of his being. What then is Sri Aurobindo's solution to this problem? He points out that what man faces today is not just a social, political, economic, ecological or a nuclear crisis but an evolutionary crisis. The highest power of consciousness at present available to man, namely the mental consciousness, seems totally incapable of solving these problems. The very accumulation of these intransigent problems is an indication that the time has come for man to transcend the limitations of his mental consciousness.