Saturday, June 23, 2007

A seeker of truth beyond religious, political and cultural barriers

PERFECT BALANCE: Mirra Alfassa's personal narrative marks a life of inner search and outer perfection The quest of Mirra Alfassa SACHIDANANDA MOHANTY The Hindu Monday, Dec 30, 2002
A four-day celebration of talks, meditation and musical programmes will be held at the CIEFL auditorium to mark the 125th birth anniversary of the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. HYDERABAD will pay homage to Mirra Alfassa, better known as the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in recognition of her service for the future of mankind. Organised by the Sri Aurobindo Society, Hyderabad, a glittering four day celebration (January 2 - 5) comprising musical offerings, talks and meditation, will bring together at the CIEFL Auditorium, Tarnaka, some of the leading exponents in the field. It is an event of interest to all seekers after `truth and a life of perfection'.
Most members of the public are unaware of the Mother or the precise nature of her many contributions to India and the world. She once described herself as French by birth and Indian by choice. While her spiritual collaborator Sri Aurobindo is more widely known in India, the Mother's extraordinary range of personality has not been sufficiently grasped or recognised.
From her life as a fin de siecle artist to the world of inner experience in the company of great occultists like Max and Alma Theon in Algeria, her voyage to Japan and later meeting in India with the noted freedom fighter and spiritualist Aurobindo Ghosh, (Sri Aurobindo), her founding of the ashram at Pondicherry named after her spiritual collaborator, and her establishment of the international township of Auroville in South India, Mirra Alfassa's personal narrative marks a life of inner search and outer perfection that few can rival. Regrettably, this narrative and its relevance to the ongoing crisis of humanity have not received the attention they deserve outside the circle of devotees and disciples.
Mirra's quest has many dimensions: her role as a seeker of truth beyond religious, political and cultural barriers, her advocacy of the cause of women beyond conflict and antipathy, her creation of a new community management, her utopian dream of the new city of dawn based on the principle of holistic living, anchored to freedom and goodwill among inhabitants beyond caste, creed, gender, ethnicity and nationality while recognising the value of each of these categories. What lessons do Mirra's experiments have for understanding religion and spirituality of our nation and humanity? How can her dynamic evolutionary spirituality based on the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo counter the current threat of divisive and fundamentalist ideologies? How does her vision of alternative living, health and family welfare, of peace, disarmament and one world based on the common spiritual legacy and destiny of human kind act as viable models of governance: Swarajya and Samrajya? Clearly, it will be hard to give a complete and comprehensive account. Attempts to do so are being tried out in many parts of the world today, including at Pondicherry and Auroville (Tamil Nadu). Hyderabad has two leading centres: The Institute of Human Study founded by late Professor Madhusudan Reddy is located on the Osmania Road, the other is Sri Aurobindo Society at Musheerabad Cross Roads. Over the years, a number of activities such as seminars, concerts, workshops and exhibitions have been conducted by these and allied organisations in collaboration with like minded groups for a better understanding of the Mother's vision of the future.
The January event at CIEFL auditorium will host, among others, George Van Vrekhem, author of celebrated Beyond Man, Prema Nandakumar, Ananda Reddy, T. Poornachandra Rao, Supriya Bhattachary and Shraddhavan. Each evening is dedicated to musical offerings by the East West Cultural Centre, Los Angles, the Bangalore Group, the Sri Aurobindo International and the Mother's Integral School.
Coordinated by M.V. Nadkarni, former professor of CIEFL and Singapore National University, himself a leading exponent of Savitri, this event in early January would be a small but significant landmark in the spiritual journey of our nation. (The writer is a professor of English literature at the University of Hyderabad.)

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