Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The teachings of Sri Aurobindo only represent his philosophy and not a religion

Auroville's organisation then, has, through the years, taken different forms due to pressures from within and from outside. This section of our website first describes the organisation that has developed with the involvement and support of the Government of India. It then proceeds to describe the community's efforts at finding an internal organisational structure that is in conformity with its ideals. It concludes with an overview of the support structures that have developed: the international support through the Auroville International Centres; statements of support given by eminent persons from India and abroad; a list of funding agencies that have made donations to Auroville projects; and a list of pending projects as well as information on how to participate... Home > Organisation & Credentials
Organisational history and involvement of Government of India
During Auroville's first few years, from 1968 to 1973, the Mother directly guided the project. After her passing in November 1973, the residents of Auroville soon found themselves in confrontation with the Sri Aurobindo Society, who claimed control over the project. From this time onwards, the community started to create and experiment with its own organisational structure.
Auroville Emergency Provisions Act 1980
In 1980, responding to requests from the residents, the Government of India passed the Auroville Emergency Provisions Act, whereby the management of all assets and undertakings relatable to Auroville were, for a limited period of time, vested in the Government of India. The Sri Aurobindo Society subsequently challenged the constitutional validity of the Act, on the main ground that Auroville was a religious denomination and that the Government had violated the Indian Constitution by passing the Act. In November 1982 the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India judged that Auroville did not constitute a religious denomination, and that the teachings of Sri Aurobindo only represent his philosophy and not a religion. The validity of the Act was upheld.
The Auroville Emergency Provisions Act initiated a period of renewed stability and growth. An Administrator, appointed by the Government of India, was the official manager of all assets. An International Advisory Council was set up under the Act to advise the Government of India on Auroville matters. It met for the first time in Delhi in February 1981. Its members were Mr. M'Bow, then Director General of UNESCO; the late Mrs. Ludmila Zhivkova, then Minister of Culture and Education, Bulgaria; Mr. Narasimha Rao, then Minister of Education, later Prime Minister of India; and late Mr. J.R.D. Tata, Indian industrialist. Mr. Kireet Joshi, then Special Secretary Ministry of Education, Government of India, was the Council's Secretary. The Council further met in Delhi in 1983, '85 and '86. Mr. Narasimha Rao, Mr. M'Bow, Mr. J.R.D. Tata and Mr. Kireet Joshi came to Auroville in August 1986, while Mrs. Zhivkova had visited Auroville earlier, in 1981.
Auroville Foundation Act 1988
In September 1988, the Government of India protected Auroville once again by passing a unique Act of Parliament, the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988. This act provided, in the public interest, for the acquisition of all assets and undertakings relatable to Auroville without payment of compensation. These assets, which till then were managed by the Administrator under the Auroville Emergency Provisions Act, were temporarily transferred to the Government of India, with the aim of ultimately vesting them in a body corporate established for the purpose, the Auroville Foundation. The Auroville Foundation came into existence in January 1991. The assets were vested in the Foundation on April 1st, 1992.
Legal protection of name and emblem of Auroville
In July 1999, the Government of India accorded special protection to the name 'Auroville' and its emblem under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper Use) Act 1950.

Special visa status for Aurovilians
Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity. First public message on Auroville given by The Mother 8 September 1965

Acknowledging that Auroville is an International Cultural Township, the Government of India has passed a special visa regulation for Auroville. The Secretary of the Auroville Foundation will normally, upon the recommendation of Auroville's Entry Group, recommend to the Indian Embassy concerned the issue of a so-called Entry Visa. This Entry Visa will form the basis on which the authorities in India will later issue a Residential Permit. The Entry Visa and the Residential Permit are valid for periods up to five years, and are only available for a person's stay in Auroville. Consequently, there is no need for a separate work permit or a financial guarantee for one's stay in Auroville. Home > Organisation & Credentials

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Kireet Joshi, mentor and friend of his Aurovilian brothers and sisters

Kireet Joshi (born 1931) was appointed Chairman of the Auroville Foundation in April 1999. He is at the same time Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and Vice-Chairman of the Maharishi Sandipani Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan, - both institutions working under Government of India. He was recently a member of the Indian delegation to the Commonwealth Ministers Conference held in Halifax in Canada, and he played a significant role in the recent conferences of UNESCO on higher education. Kireet is a member of a number of committees in the University Grants Commission, the National Council of Education Research and Training, and the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.
Connection with Ashram and Auroville
Kireet is a student of Philosophy and Law, and although selected in 1955 for the topmost service of the Government of India, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), he resigned in 1956 in order to devote himself completely to the study and practice of the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. It was here that he participated in numerous experiments that were being conducted at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education under the direct guidance of the Mother. Kireet also taught philosophy, psychology and Indian culture. It was during this period that the concept and plan of Auroville had begun to take shape, and in 1968 when Auroville was founded, he took an active part in the preparation of the inaugural ceremony. There were several occasions when Mother while speaking to Kireet made comments about Auroville. Since then, the ideals of Auroville and the Charter of Auroville have remained for him a perennial source of inspiration and motive of life.
Drafting of the Auroville Act
In 1976, the Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, appointed Kireet as Education Advisor to the Government of India. During his tenure in the Government (1976-1988), one of the responsibilities assigned to him was related to Auroville, as difficulties had arisen and help was sought by the residents of Auroville. In 1980, and again in 1988, the Parliament of India enacted legislation in regard to Auroville, and the drafting of these items of legislation was assigned to Kireet. During the period 1980-82, issues concerning Auroville had come up in the High Court of Calcutta and in the Supreme Court of India, and it was largely due to the advice given by Kireet that the Supreme Court of India upheld the Government's contention that the teaching of Sri Aurobindo does not constitute a religion, - a position that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have repeatedly underlined in their writings.
Development of education in Auroville
During 1980-88, with the help of the International Advisory Council of Auroville (comprising the then Minister of External Affairs of India, Mr. J.R.D. Tata, Madame Zhivkova of Bulgaria and Mr. M'Bow, the then Director General of UNESCO), Kireet supported a number of activities of Auroville and particularly aided in the development of education. On 28th February 1984, the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) was created and several important research projects were undertaken. In due course, SAIIER published two major research publications, The Aim of Life and The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil. These books made under the guidance of Kireet have been appreciated by educational experts in India and abroad (a third book, Mystery and Excellence of the Human Body is ready for publication).
Most active Chairman to date
In January 1999, Kireet was nominated by the Government of India to be a member of the International Advisory Council of the Auroville Foundation, and three months later, he was made Chairman of the Foundation. He then plunged again into the Auroville adventure by becoming immediately the most active chairman to date, spending long weeks in Auroville, interacting tirelessly with many residents and working groups with the ever present aim of moving speedily towards the concrete realisation of Auroville's ideals. Kireet is actively involved in education, and giving daily classes to the adolescents of Super School whenever he is in Auroville.
New research projects in value-oriented education have been launched with the participation of a large group of Aurovilian researchers, and he has given impetus to the possible development of a new economy so as to realise the ideal given by the Mother of "no exchange of money among Aurovilians". Kireet has also encouraged the development of new modes of organisation of collective life in the light of Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's vision of a spiritualised society.
House in Auroville
A most concrete sign of Kireet's total commitment to Auroville came recently from the fact that he has now his own house in Auroville which has just been completed close to the Bharat Nivas guesthouse. Kireet's tireless capacity for work, aided by a vast cultural background and a deep knowledge of Sri Aurobindo's works, gives him a unique position as mentor and friend of his Aurovilian brothers and sisters. Home > Organisation & Credentials > The Auroville Foundation > The Governing Board > Kireet Joshi

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The shining Arjuna of spiritual aspirants

‘The Secret Face That Is Our Own’: Nolinida’s Body of Literature Rick Lipschutz Nolini Kanta Gupta was not only the foremost disciple of Sri Aurobindo, but a prolific writer and exponent of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga in his own right. Rick Lipschutz delves into his works...

Ablade of a question, shot back to a question, shows the esteem Sri Aurobindo held for his spirit-born son. “If Nolini does not know my yoga, who does?” “Nolini’s writing is direct and powerful,” he wrote in a letter to his brother Barin. As war rowned Europe in that sea of madness, the Master calmly observed, “I always see the Light descending into Nolini.” From Tagore, on whose travels into infinity Nolinida shed much light, we learn, “Nolini Kanta Gupta’s contribution to the literature of Bengal is unique.”

The young revolutionary who “in blood drawn from his chest” wrote out a vow to give his life in service to the Motherland, evolved into the yogin whose revolution in consciousness rendered his whole life pure Shakti-movement. He authored more than 60 books, and his Collected Works available from SABDA run to eight volumes that grace the reader with inner inspiration, Brahmic silence applied to this new human hour, even concrete help in sadhana. This essay proposes to focus on his writings as a whole—search-rays into our human condition and its successor, literary criticism, poetry, mysticism, sociopolitical essays, philosophy, science, Vedic and Upanishadic interpretation, penetrations into the essence of the Indian spirit, talks to the Mother’s children, luminous personal reminiscences. His body of literature, like his life, is, as V. Madhusudan Reddy declared, “a model of psychic individuality and unique self-expression.”

A deep sonorous voice arises from Nolinida: “Do not say the load is too heavy for me, say rather, I have not yet learnt how to bear it.” “It does not prove anything that I cannot become a Kalidasa; for that matter Kalidasa cannot become what I am.” “The greatness of a person is the greatness of the Impersonal in him.” “We need at the present hour a complete and precise science of the Divine Consciousness.” “A solitary second can be the spark potent to explode a whole past.” “The Day will come towards which the whole creation has been aspiring from the beginning of time, it will come inevitably in due course, it may be today or tomorrow, it may be a decade hence, or it may even be a century or a millennium hence; it will come all the same.”

Imprisoned in Alipore Jail long ago, he came upon a passage of Sri Aurobindo’s that he found “absolutely unadorned and still most effective! The movement is that of an arrow, strong and firm and straight.” The “grand style simple” was in fact his own. Nolinida painted in few but vivid brushstrokes, a fine verbal artist, avoiding excess, true to essentials. Language all but transparent married music to meaning and stamped it throughout with clarities of vision. “A certain kingly ease and dominion in every shade of his expression” breathes through his writings, like a spiritual breeze. A natural formality is tempered and softened with use of phrases of the day. He wears lightly the mantle of erudition. In later volumes, he becomes more and more a ray of the Mother’s consciousness.

His “Reminiscences” is shot through with humor and color, more personal touches. The style, like the man, is unobtrusive; he hides his art. In the future more will come to appreciate the incredible intricacy interwoven with that classically simple surface. We discover in K.R.S. Iyengar’s On the Mother that Mother once assigned Nolinida to the line of sadhaks in whom Light was the dominant aspect. In the early 1930s, when she asked several sadhaks to describe the goal of their sadhana, Nolini wrote two words: “Divinising life.” Mother led the Ashramites in games where they concentrated, then chose passages from books; significantly, Nolinida struck upon the Kutsa Angirasa suktas from Hymns to the Mystic Fire. Sri Aurobindo’s rendering runs: “This is the fire of our sacrifice! May we have strength to kindle it to its height, may it perfect our thoughts. In this all that we give must be thrown that it may become a food for the gods; this shall bring to us the godheads of the infinite consciousness who are our desire.” If this is true for a true sadhak, then Nolinida was truly a sadhak among sadhaks.

For he cast into purest fire everything he had and was, and so fueled his sadhana. This fire carried him to the heights of consciousness, made his mind a precious instrument, brought into him the powers and personalities of the Divine Mother. Restored to the Mother’s consciousness, his soul then served only to make her felt among the people, by all means, and with “well-connected words.” He did not learn of Sri Aurobindo or about the Mother; he knew them by becoming them. Finding his greater individuality in their light, this most reticent of sadhaks released his creativity in an unending stream. “His is the pure mind,” observed Sri Aurobindo of Nolini; and as Kapali Sastriar shows in his commentaries on the Kutsa hymns near the end of the Siddhanjana, the human being with such an inner instrument becomes “a meeting ground of the Gods.”

In “Man and the Gods,” Nolinida subtly suggests that the suppler human virtues surpass in some essential quality the powers of the universal spirits. The gods are “powers…agents of the One Divine…highbrow entities [who] carry things with a high hand…an imperial majesty…a sweeping mastery and sovereign indifference.” The human, however, has progressed slowly, developing through effort and much error. “The terrestrial creature… knows of things which the gods do not…has an experience which even they, strange to say, covet.” For a god is a “fixed and definite type”—bound by his godhood; but the human embodies all modes of consciousness, growing and changing. We, human, fail more than we succeed, gaining a fire-tested endurance. Forbearance and forgiveness are “the badge of the tribe.” And the gods? They tend toward impatience, a brittle perfectionism, brook no quarter, are in fact egoistic! Theirs is a sattvic egoism, replete with a sense of separate mission, rigid in its own orbit, lacking “the mellowness…understanding…sweet reasonableness of a human.” For our human ego is blocked at every turn, and our “mind…has something to give which even the overmind of the gods does not possess and needs.”

Our very failings “contain and yield a deeper sap of life and out of them a richer fulfillment is being elaborated.” For “the divine grace embedded in matter”—the psychic being—“is the sole privilege of the terrestrial creature.” To progress requires a psychic being; to advance, therefore, a god must take on a human body, which though rigid is more flexible than it seems and can “suffer a seachange… not within the reach of the radiant body of an immortal.” The essay ends on a grace note of synthesis, a luminous suggestion. There is an evolutionary gap but no essential gulf between the human and the divine. The human mode of being holds within it its successor, and, in the new creation, even the gods shall change.

“The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo,” Volumes Three and Four of Nolini Kanta Gupta’s Collected Works, received its name from Sri Aurobindo himself. These volumes—clear short comprehensible essays—provide this revolutionary yoga a lucid presentation creative yet faithful to the original. An exception in its relative length, “Lines of the Descent of Consciousness” is an enduring contribution to a clearer understanding of Integral Yoga. The theme could not be broader, yet closer to the heart of the curious human: “Let us see how it all came about.”

Truly, as Sri Aurobindo writes in a perhaps related context, “All the Aspects disclose themselves, separate, combine, fuse, are unified together.” Consciousness, according to Nolinida, extends five distinct lines of descent. First comes that of Sachchidananda, supreme impersonal reality—the delightful conscious existence now masked behind all this grave and sorrowful stupidity. All the lines, the author weaves and disentangles. Read “Lines of the Descent of Consciousness” and much of The Life Divine may come into clearer focus. The essay itself is a descent of masterconsciousness that “unravels the mystery.” I continue to learn much from his exposition of how the psychic being will “come into its own precisely by a descent of its own self from above, in the same manner as the other descents” and how it will unite with the Jivatman. There is much material here presented in a novel manner with many strands teased together. We see here Nolini-as-scientist of the divine consciousness, differentiating the high gods from the highest gods, the upper from the lower poles of the Overmind (where the One becomes “like a silent partner”).

One can observe how the personal works together with the impersonal and the Divine with the human in a tour through all the worlds with this most reliable and charming of guides. With an authenticity that can come only from experience he writes of the psychic being in many passages sprinkled throughout his work; how all one’s limbs can become a psychic movement. One can feel the psychic firmly in front in his writings; even as he scales the high overhead planes the soul is most prominent, that eternal sweetness of divine presence, firm and solid and profound. He shows us how, in Mother’s words, to “become concretely what we are essentially.” In “The Mounting Fire” and “The Labours of the Gods” and other essays, we meet Nolini-as-technologist of self-transcendence. He tells us much that we may wish to know about the “science of inwardness.” Nolinida’s book “The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo” received its name from Sri Aurobindo himself. One can feel the psychic firmly in front in his writings; even as he scales the high overhead planes the soul is most prominent, that eternal sweetness of divine presence, firm and solid and profound.

Nolinida was also an accomplished sportsman. He sprinted into his eighties, and his “My Athletics” veers from reminiscences on to the very essence behind exercise. If this is not to be another lopsided yoga, athletics comes to play an integral part in our spiritual training. Our frailty must become strength to embrace the divine light descending. “If the consciousness is of the right sort, the new force can descend even from supraphysical worlds and give to the movements of the body a supreme beauty and strength.” All the parts of the being then participate in a more conscious exercise and the fire, light, and force can be grounded, harmonized, wonderfully contained. Here sublimity becomes practical and the practical is made sublime. His athletics is our challenge.

Nolinida is one whose psychic opening and transformation was allowed to proceed in the psychic way, who has shown a unique ability to express the higher consciousness in writing that is, indeed, direct and powerful. In his life and his writings he represents “at every moment, in all circumstances, one [who] follows the voice of the highest in oneself…and no inferior echo.” He had a long “happy collaboration” with the Mother, the Divine Consciousness—her own son Andre and others have described how they felt her in Nolinida; their “head was ringing for hours” after merely talking with him; they found a lifelong friend who continues after his passing at age 95 in 1984 to be present to them; or they actually saw a vision of the New Creation. On our human condition, our maladies, the driving force of our times, his gaze is unflinching, his thought balanced, his point of view global yet close to the “tears of things.”

His poetry in “To the Heights” is a rhythmic record of his sadhana in the 1930s. Volumes Three and Four, “The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo,” will only gain in importance with time as an original exposition of Integral Yoga rendering its aspects more comprehensible for the human consciousness, providing a much-needed bridge to Sri Aurobindo’s own writings. Perhaps equal to his third volume is Volume One, “The Coming Race and Other Essays,” which climbs the highest ranges of spiritual literature and at times manifests an intense mantric vision. His writings on India are universal and speak from an identification with her very soul and mission. His later writings provide diamond-like windows of the Mother’s Consciousness and an opening to the Yoga-Force. “Reminiscences,” his personal memoir is of much interest, a gleaming jewel of the genre. His writing on the Vedas and Upanishads (translations, commentary, tales) contain ancient Indian spiritual knowledge essential to more fully appreciate Sri Aurobindo’s writings and work.

Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta has given us all a subtle body of literature bound to widely extend into the frontal consciousness. What he said of Vivekananda’s words (which woke his courage up in Alipore) is true of his own: “These are luminous life-giving mantras and the world and humanity…have need of them.” One-volume editions include Lights from Nolini Kanta Gupta (highlights taken from individual essays) and Evolution and the Earthly Destiny (selected essays). Education and Initiation, translated from the Bengali, more timely than ever, has now been released. His eight-volume Collected Works continue to grow in relevance and merit more detailed scholarly study. Surprisingly, the eight volumes are as affordable as they are full of delights and unexpected turns. Or one may prefer to read his translation of Savitri into Bengali. The shining Arjuna of spiritual aspirants has left us a portion of the new creation, full of the force of yoga and packed with the light of Sri Aurobindo.

Rick Lipschutz discovered the Integral Yoga after exploring other paths and has been a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother since 1997. A member of the Cultural Integral Fellowship who attends retreats at Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham in Lodi, he lives with his wife and son in San Francisco, USA. Rick Lipschutz