Friday, September 05, 2008

This place of learning will vibrate with a kind of delight and joy of studying and doing research in the works of Sri Aurobindo

A Conversation with Dr. Ananda Reddy
Beloo Mehra

Dr. Ananda Reddy is the Founder-director of SACAR, and President of its online educational wing, Sri Aurobindo Darshan: The University of Tomorrow.

Ananda gives us a view of the past and shares with us how the idea of SACAR took birth while he was living and working at Assumption University in Bangkok. He is grateful to the Mother for giving him the opportunity to visit and gain valuable experience of teaching and engaging in intellectual work at a well-functioning, highly organised academic organisation that emphasised intellectual rigour and high academic standard. It was there that this idea of starting an academic centre back home in Pondicherry began to take initial shape. Ananda knew clearly that after coming back to India he didn’t want to go back to work at any university. He had seen how the academic structure and culture of many traditional academic institutions in India can de-motivate an individual and may even result in making some individuals lose sight of the larger intellectual and spiritual life they may have set for themselves. Ananda also knew very certainly that he wanted his work to be closely aligned with the thought and vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He felt that all the intellectual and spiritual wealth that he had been given was because of the Grace of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and now it was his swadharma to pass on some of that wealth and become an instrument in spreading the vision of Sri Aurobindo to younger generations.

The origins of this idea of an academic centre focusing on the thought and vision of Sri Aurobindo actually go much farther than this time in Bangkok, however. Ananda recalls that it was originally a dream shared with his father, late Prof. V. Madhusudan Reddy, to open a Sri Aurobindo research centre in Pondicherry. But it was during his time in Bangkok that this “idea became an ideal” for Ananda. And all his subsequent work in building of SACAR from the grounds-up has been a realisation of that ideal. Ananda knew that for any organisation to grow and succeed lot of hard and dedicated work is required and that he must give his all — all of his time, energy and thought — if he wanted to see his ideal manifested in reality. So he came back to Pondicherry in 1995 with this dream of starting an academic research centre that focused on the thought and vision of Sri Aurobindo, and that would become a means for him to give back to his country “what Sri Aurobindo and Mother had given [me].” ...

What is Ananda’s dream for the future of SACAR? He takes a brief break and answers that he has a two-tiered dream, a dream to be realised in two stages. On the first stage, he would hope for SACAR to become a bridge between the old and new — old and new ways of acquiring knowledge, old and new consciousness. He confesses that he is not an impractical dreamer, so he understands that in order to realise the new on a pragmatic level he can’t ignore the present reality. This explains the ongoing work at SACAR to keep improving upon, refining and strengthening its academic framework and academic approach to studying and teaching Sri Aurobindo’s works, and the efforts to enter into alliances and collaborations with Indian and foreign universities.

The second stage of Ananda’s dream is that one day SACAR becomes a centre of learning where people will come purely for the love of knowledge, and are not attached to the concept of any degrees or some such gain. SACAR will be a place where the learners, facilitators and everyone involved with it will know that “Only gain is inner gain.” This place of learning will vibrate with a kind of delight and joy of studying and doing research in the works of Sri Aurobindo. Ananda feels that the first stage of his dream is bound to take SACAR to the second stage because “any research into Sri Aurobindo inevitably leads one to searching within oneself. I would like that to be the second stage for SACAR where those on this path of in-search are attracted to this institution.” Ananda feels that he can’t speak more concretely about the outer form in which this second stage of his dream will materialise, and perhaps that is not needed at present because his present focus is on fulfilling the first part of his dream — to make SACAR a part of academic mainstream in India so it can serve as a bridge between the old and new consciousness. And this can be best realised once SACAR gains the status of an independent university, which is the target Ananda is working towards at present.

Ananda does not like to speak of any challenges in fulfilling of these dreams because he feels that if he is moving in the right direction as per the Mother’s Will for SACAR, then any challenges and obstacles that come in the way will be part of his work that is to be done for the Mother. He adds that since until now everything for SACAR has been done through the Grace of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, “even thinking of any challenge indicates distrust on Their Grace … Challenge only reflects my incapacity.” However, he is mindful of one biggest obstacle which may emerge if those in charge of the various parts of the institution are driven by their egos, are interested in self-promotion and are not ready to surrender to the Will of the Mother. “If the human in-charge is inwardly surrendered to Her, then there is no other challenge,” he says. All other day-to-day challenges are part of the travel, he adds. Because of his surrender, faith and trust in the Mother he feels that money and other physical requirements for SACAR will always be provided by the Mother. He concludes by saying that his attitude has always been to “see the Mother’s will translated through me; and thus one day not only realise what I dream for SACAR, but in truth become SACAR, that is, become Sri Aurobindo’s Child, Ananda Reddy!” 11:20 AM

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