June 09, 2009

Authoritarianism, ideological orthodoxy and even an Aurobindonian fundamentalism in Orissa schools

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Knowledge and Human Liberation - Excerpts from Ananta Kumar Giri Annotated by Debashish Banerji
by
Debashish on Mon 08 Jun 2009 03:35 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Giri is writing about the Orissa schools, but of course, the original Integral Education setup is the SAICE at the ashram. One thing here which Mother insisted on is no compulsion to study Sri Aurobindo's teachings. The Free Progress system allows the students, particularly in the higher classes, to choose their own courses through interaction with a mentor. This sounds ideal, but in practice, a student's choice is constrained by outer exposure, inner awareness and mentor's knowledge and skills.

Unfortunately, as the present controversy over Peter's book has shown, (with most of its ringleaders being ashram ex-students and its senior advisors being SAICE teachers) an idea is only as good as the consciousness of those who implement it. On the one hand, the injunction against teaching Sri Aurobindo has led to an apathetic attitude and a lack of originality in Sri Aurobindo scholarship, leaving the field open for fundamentalistic approaches; on the other, several enthusiastic mentors push an orthodox version of IY on their students. DB Reply

by Debashish on Sun 07 Jun 2009 04:46 PM PDT Permanent Link
EXCERPTS FROM ANANTA KUMAR GIRI’S BOOK CHAPTER: ‘Knowledge and Human Liberation: Jurgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo and Beyond’
Annotated by Debashish Banerji 11. ON INTEGRAL EDUCATION:

As a social practice preparing conditions of individual and social emancipation and transformation, Giri draws on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s theories of Integral Education and sees its potential but also its shortcomings as practiced. He points to the burgeoning of Integral Educational schools across India and specially mentions Orissa as a state in which such schools have found fertile ground. Giri hints at the shades of authoritarianism at work in these schools mixed up in their idealism. Unfortunately, a deeper study reveals not merely authoritarianism but ideological orthodoxy and even the simmering of an Aurobindonian fundamentalism under its placid fa├žade. As Giri points out, Habermasian respect for plurality and disciplines of communication can go a long way in releasing the potential of such schools. Sri Aurobindo scholarship fossilized under authorized orthodoxies are the surest way to kill the emancipator and transformative potential that Giri extols so highly as the promise of Sri Aurobindo to the postmodern world:

We find the glimpses of emergence of such spiritual communities in the integral education movement in India which is a grass-roots social movement at work in building spiritually inspired integral education schools. In the state of Orissa there are now nearly 300 such schools inspired by the ideas of Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual companion The Mother and these schools have been a product of an earlier study circle movement. In these spaces we find the glimpses of emergence of a new connection between knowledge and human liberation through the mediations of love, labor and mutually shared time (see Giri 2003b). But its fuller potential remains unrealized because of traces of authoritarianism in the management of these schools which is sometimes brushed under or justified in the name of spirituality. Here opening up these spaces to further democratic deliberation of the kind suggested by Habermas is helpful."

Integral education: Thought and practice by Raghunath Pani (Ashish Pub. House, New Delhi - 1987) Integral education: thought and practice 3:22 PM

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