December 24, 2008

Jewish French mystic Mirra Alfassa and the Cambridge-educated yogi Sri Aurobindo

Affective Communities : Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship
Leela Gandhi

ISBN: 817821641 Publisher: Permanent Black Book Format: Hard Bound Language: English Physical Description: 254 pages Year of Publication: 2006

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. So E.M Forster famously observed in Two Cheers for Democracy. This epigrammatic manifesto, where friend stands as a metaphor for cross-cultural collaboration, holds the key, Leela Gandhi argues, to the hitherto neglected history of western anti-imperialism. Focusing on individuals and groups who renounced the privileges of imperialism to elect affinity with the victims of expansionism, she uncovers the Utopian-socialist critiques of empire that emerged in Europe, specifically in Britain, at the end of the nineteenth century.

Leela Gandhi reveals for the first time how those associated with marginalized lifestyles, subcultures, and traditions--including homosexuality, vegetarianism, animal rights, spiritualism, and aestheticism--united against imperialism and forged strong bonds with colonized subjects and cultures. She weaves together the stories of a number of South Asian and European friendships that flourished between 1878 and 1914, tracing the complex historical networks connecting figures like the English socialist and homosexual reformer Edward Carpenter and the young Indian barrister M.K. Gandhi, or the Jewish French mystic Mirra Alfassa and the Cambridge-educated yogi Sri. Aurobindo.

Challenging homogeneous portrayals of 'the west' and its role in relation to anticolonial struggles, Leela Gandhi puts forward a powerful new model of the political: one that finds in friendship a crucial resource for anti-imperialism and transnational collaboration.


COVER STORY India Today Cover Story The gift of humanity November 16, 2007
The gift of humanity
THE GIFT OF HUMANITY Communal experience: Auroville, Puducherry

Potters, candle makers and perfumers work in their designated zones; there are information centres and handicraft boutiques; a biosphere is coming up; and the township has a solar kitchen that can feed 10,000 at a time.
Everything is open to everyone and there are no barricades or guards. Auroville is a commune that belongs to no one and yet aims to belong to the whole of humanity.

What was started in the early 1930s as Mother’s—Aurobindo’s disciple Mirra Alfassa—idea of an experiment in human unity, has been realised at Auroville. Commended in 1966 by UNESCO as a project of importance to the future of humanity, the township was inaugurated on February 28 1968.
Today it houses more than 1,700, with more than 600 Indians. Though countless visitors come to Auroville, it does not seek to be a tourist attraction. The idea is to encourage people to stay and participate.

Living in harmony There is an emphasis on research in fields from organic farming to dance and even the study of lights, sound and meditation.
Auroville has proven to the world that an idealistic community—not built around a cult or religion—can not only exist successfully, but also engage with local communities, evolve architecture that has been acclaimed the world over and work towards environmental restoration—the only experiment of its kind in the world! by Nirmala Ravindran

No comments:

Post a Comment