August 12, 2007

Power of the Sanskrit language to carry the deepest and most recondite truths and processes of yoga

Re: Untold Potentialities: India and the Third World. by Richard Hartz (2)
by Debashish on Sat 11 Aug 2007 08:49 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
I have just concluded a seven-day intensive study of Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga with Richard Hartz, the writer of this article and an "American" disciple of Sri Aurobindo, who works with the master's texts at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram archives. Certainly, the overwhelming impression I have received from this study is that of the power of the Sanskrit language to carry the deepest and most recondite truths and processes of yoga. This is the language Sri Aurobindo used to record for himself his own progress in sadhana. But he also used a variety of alternate lexicons which he himself created for a wider readership in English, so that the terms of the Record are seldom used in his more well known writings.
Somewhere, in his swadeshi period, Sri Aurobindo has said "India preserves that which preserves the world." By this he means yoga. He has also written "Yoga must be revealed to mankind because without it he cannot take the net step in the evolution." So, when we speak of cultural specificity and enduring social qualities, this is certainly one which India seems to have preserved, even if it appears at certain times to "go under" in the mass.
But from my viewpoint (without the antardristi to make pronouncements on the persistence of soul-qualities from birth to birth) this quality has emerged at a certain point in history, has seen its rises and falls and reasserted itself, again often by historical accident, a number of times and in a number of ways, often bringing new formulations which seemed contrary to what had already been developed. The Sufis and pirs have contributed to this stream as have the bhaktas and jnanis of innumerable sects, some of which are unknown beyond the village in which they were born. Kings and emperors of innumerable beliefs have added their bit to it through patronage and practice.
Today, we may be debating fiercely whether the Aryans were indigenous to India or came from elsewhere to supplant or mix with the populations of the Indus Valley, but a study of Indus Valley culture proves that the notion of yoga is well established in it. The exceeding of human structures towards the dual goals of liberation and earth-possession become an enduring concern and the definition of the human being in this cultural discourse, in which Sri Aurobindo's version "Man is a transitional being" is only a recent formulation.
So a revitalization of this tradition and its engagement with modernity is certainly the order of the day for Indians. But this is only possible through the example and teaching of a lived and creative spirituality, not through the classification of national orthodoxies. DB

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