Sunday, February 13, 2011

Transforming 21st Century Education

News from Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry)
January 2011
Upcoming Events
133rd Birth Anniversary of the Mother - 21 February 2011
The Mother at Pondicherry

On 21 February 2011 we celebrate the Mother's 133rd birth anniversary. The Mother's room will be open for darshan for devotees on that day. There will also be a collective meditation in the Ashram from 6:00 to 6:30 am.
The Mother came to the earth with a great spiritual mission. Sri Aurobindo has said that:
"The Mother comes in order to bring the Supramental."

"Her embodiment is a chance for the earth-consciousness to receive the Supramental into it and undergo the transformation necessary for that to be possible."
The Mother first met Sri Aurobindo in the year 1914. After their meeting, Sri Aurobindo said that he had never seen anywhere a self-surrender so absolute and unreserved as that of the Mother. Later, Sri Aurobindo mentioned about the significance of the presence of the Mother on earth in the following words:

"The great work of the Avatar is to manifest the Divine Grace upon earth. To be a disciple of the Avatar is to become an instrument of the Divine Grace. The Mother is the great dispensatrix - through identity - of the Divine Grace with a perfect knowledge - through identity - of the absolute mechanism of Universal Justice. 
And through her mediation each movement of sincere and confident aspiration towards the Divine calls down in response the intervention of the Grace."

The Mother herself has emphasised that "I am on earth because it is on earth that the divine work must be done, and for no other reason."
Talk in Tamil - 21 February 2011
Shri M.S. Sundararajan of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry will deliver a talk in Tamil, 'Andraada Vaazhkaiyil Annai' at the Society House Hall on 21st February 2011, at 10 am as part of the Mother's birthday anniversary celebrations.
SAFIER Annual Guest Lecture - 8 & 9 February 2011
The Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Education and Research (SAFIER), a unit of the Society, will have a two-day talk on 'Transforming 21st Century Education: Interacting Ideas and Practices from India and America' as part of its 2011 Annual Guest Lecture Series. The talk, by Dr. Maureen P. Hall, will be held at the Society House hall in Puducherry. Dr. Hall, a Professor of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, US, is in India as part of her Fulbright Scholarship from 1st to 16th of February. All are welcome to attend the talk and interact with Dr. Hall. For more details please contact Shivakumar on +91-94426 25637 or Dr. Sampadananda Mishra on +91-99528 88350.
 Recent Events News from Puducherry
1. Bonne Année
Decoration with lamps

New Year's day was observed by the Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, at its Society House hall at 10 am with the lighting of lamps and a collective meditation. This was followed by invocations and songs by a few devotees and local staff, invoking the Presence and Grace of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and a re-dedication to their work.
Women's Council Seminar "Opening to Sri Aurobindo's Force": 21 - 23 November 2010
Pradeepbhai, Chairperson of Sri Aurobindo Society, addressing the participants

A view of the participants

The Sri Aurobindo Society's Women's Council held its annual seminar last year from 21 to 23 November. It was a particularly special event as it was held to commemorate the centenary of Sri Aurobindo's arrival in Pondicherry and the Society's Golden Jubilee. Thus the theme of the seminar was 'Opening to Sri Aurobindo's Force' as that is the best way to pay homage to Sri Aurobindo, according to the Mother. The 60 delegates, men and women, who attended the seminar, held at the Society House in Pondicherry, spent the three days reflecting on how to open up to Sri Aurobindo's force. Delegates were welcomed by Shri Pradeep Narang, the Chairman of the Society and Ms. Lachmanben Melvani. Shri Narang introduced the main topic and explained what our relationship with Sri Aurobindo should be and how we can come into contact with His force and light. This was followed by a self-introduction by delegates.
Each day started with a one-hour physical movement session from 6am, led by Ms Datta, a teacher from the Ashram School. The sessions started at 8.30 am with meditation and an invocation by different people each day and ended with an inspiring collective chanting led by Surabhi, who chose different hymns - the first day on Sri Aurobindo, the second day a Sanskrit verse and on the third day Sri Aurobindo's Gayatri Mantra. There was also a power-point presentation by Maitreyee on 'Flower of the Day' where every day different flowers with spiritual significance to Sri Aurobindo according to the Mother were highlighted. Every morning also saw the delegates, who had been divided into eight groups led by a group guide, discuss and introspect on selected passages from 'Savitri'.
Talks were given on different subjects but in the context of the seminar's topic by various devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother:
21 November:
a) Richard from the Ashram School narrated anecdotes on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and gave some practical observations and guidelines on reading Savitri.
b) A power-point presentation by Sagarika on Sri Aurobindo's life from His boyhood days to His life in Baroda as a professor showed some rare pictures and not very well-known facts on the life of the Master.
c) Dr. Alok Pandey gave a synopsis of Sri Aurobindo's works. He began with the importance of Sri Aurobindo's books and how to use this gift in our daily lives, then went a little deeper into how to read Sri Aurobindo by quietening our minds and understanding the meaning of what He says with our deeper self.
d) Sushanto and Rathi took up some less-known aspects of Sri Aurobindo by sharing glimpses of His humour from books by Nirodbaran and other sadhaks.
e) Bharati Dhar spoke on 'Application of Sri Aurobindo's Vision on Economics' where each person was given an opportunity to undertake the work of his/her choice.

22 November:
a) Prof. Saikat Sen spoke on 'Opening to Sri Aurobindo in all Aspects of Life', and shared some inspiring and deep insights from the Collected Works of the Mother.
b) Shakuntala Manay of Bangalore gave a powerful presentation titled 'Opening and Offering' which was essentially a compilation of points on Integral Yoga from Sri Aurobindo's book 'Letters on Yoga'.
c) Krishna Modi offered a beautiful presentation on '100 years of Sri Aurobindo's arrival in Pondicherry', narrating how He came to Pondicherry, the places He had stayed, etc.
d) Rathi and Sushanto presented a very different and interesting aspect of 'Sri Aurobindo - the Gentleman'.
e) Lachmanben shared her personal experiences and a few anecdotes on her contact with the Mother.

23 November:
a) The day started with an invocation from 'Sri Aurobindo's Upanishad', recited by the Society's Sai Baba 
b) Dr. Maya Kirpalani gave an interesting talk on the subject of the seminar, 'Opening to Sri Aurobindo' with examples from daily life.
c) In the afternoon session guides or representatives of each group shared insights, learning and experiences on 'Introspection on the Savitri'. 
d) It was a profoundly moving and satisfying experience when Latha spoke about her personal experiences on 'Opening to Sri Aurobindo'.
e) In the open session, Vasant Das from the U.S.A and Sharda Goenka from Rajasthan expressed their views and feelings on the seminar.
f) Sudarshan from Auroville read passages from Savitri, while Mangaikarasi narrated two inspiring short stories.
g) Sushilaben completed the sessions by summing up with her reflections on the experiences and insights achieved in the course of the three days.

News from Branches and Centres
News from India
Mumbai Branch (Maharashtra)
a. 22 & 23 October 2010
Prof. Manojdas from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry spoke on 'How Far is Spiritual Life from Worldly Life?' and 'Faith and Friendship in the era of Changing Values' at the evening talks arranged by the Sri Aurobindo Society Mumbai Branch on 22nd and 23rd of October at the CCI Club. The talks, held in the evenings from 4 to 6:30, were followed by a questions and answers session. Prasad was distributed at the end of the talks to around 70 persons who attended the talks on both evenings.

b. 24 November - 1 December 2010, Artists Camp
Some of the Art works on display

More Art works on display

The Sri Aurobindo Society Mumbai Branch organised an Artists Camp in Ramgarh, Nanintal from 24th November to 1st December. Twenty-five artists from Bombay, Surat, Bangalore, Pondicherry, Baroda and Meerut participated in the camp which included interactive talks and presentations on various topics:
" Abhipsa Rami - Appreciating Indian Art; and The Divinity Hidden in Indian Art - its deep spiritual content, value and inspiration
" Jesal Thacker - Inspiration - its source and different planes; and The Artworks of the Mother and Her views on Art. 
" Rajarshi Smart - Popular Art - Its Past, Present and Future
" Kaivalya Smart - Intuition and its role in creativity; and Sri Aurobindo on Intuition.
It was not only a good learning experience but at the end of the camp many of the participants showed keen interest in getting involved with the Society's activities.

c. 19 December 2010, Ikebana Workshop
Ms. Jesal Thacker, interacting with the participants
A display of Ikebana, done by the participants

The Mumbai Branch organised an Ikebana workshop on 19th December as part of the Society's Golden Jubilee Celebrations . It was attended by about 18 participants from the different centres of Mumbai. Ms. Jesal Thacker, who conducted the workshop, explained that Ikebana is a kind of concentration and one has to feel the flowers, its colour, its fragrance and its form and beauty and before arranging the flowers one has to look at all the possibilities, then go for the best arrangement one can visualise. Ikebana, meaning living flowers, is also known as kado or the way of flowers.
She then demonstrated three or four Ikebana arrangements, followed by the participants, who got to do two arrangements each. Each arrangement was given a quality like Sincerity, Devotion, Faith, Courage, Humility, Endurance, Gratitude, etc. Participants were given three to five flowers each as per their need and once everyone got their flowers, other materials like sticks, paper and vase, and their own space, as per the seating arrangements, they set to work, taking their time and some of the arrangements came out really beautiful. Once everyone had completed their arrangements there was a concluding session, where participants were free to share the feelings or thoughts they had discovered in the course of the workshop or about their arrangement. The result was a happy and joyful response, a manifestation of the beauty generated in the atmosphere. The arrangements were displayed for two days at the centre. The workshop was followed by meditation and Prasad distribution.
d. 13 & 14 December 2010, Talk by Dr Alok Pandey 
Dr Alok Pandey, speaking to the audience

Dr Alok Pandey of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry was the guest speaker at a two-day talk on Savitri arranged by the Society's Mumbai Regional Committee at the Churchgate Centre. The talks, attended by about 50 devotees and members of the public, were followed by a question and answer session.
Noida (U.P.)
1st January 2011: A special collective meditation was held on new year's day from 9.30 to 10am by the Society's Noida Branch. About 35 devotees and their families took part in the meditation, after which sweets and calendars of the Mother were distributed to all.
Republic Day Celebrations at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Noida

Seen here: Shri Vijay Kumar Sharma, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Noida Branch (5th from Right). Also seen are Shri V.P. Goyal, Dr. Puneesh Taneja, Shri O.P. Dani, Ls. Shoba Dani, Smt. Seema Ahluwalia and other distinguished guests
A view of the audience

26 January 2011, Republic Day Celebration: Noida Branch celebrated Republic Day with members, their families and students of nearby schools at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Sector 62, Noida. The function began with the hoisting of the National Flag by Shri Vijay Kumar Sharma, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Noida Branch in the presence of Shri V.P. Goyal, Shri O.P. Dani, Ms. Shobha Dani, Mrs. Seema Ahluwalia and other distinguished guests. This was followed by the students singing patriotic songs and Ms. Shobha Dani and Mrs. Seema Ahluwalia reciting bhajans on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Shri Vijay Kumar Sharma, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Noida Branch, 
addressing the participants of the Youth Camp

A view of the participants

One day Youth Camp, 29 January 2011: A one-day Youth Camp was organised at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan for 35 students from different colleges. Shri K. Pawan from Sri Aurobindo Society, Patiala Branch and Shri Arun Naik from Noida conducted the camp where participants were enlightened on such topics as 'Youth & the powers within'; 'Youth and India'; 'Youth and Sri Aurobindo' and 'Youth and the Spiritual Dimensions of Life'. The youngsters evinced keen interest and participated actively in programme.

In addition to these specific programmes the Noida Branch is also busy with the following regular activities:
Meditation, spiritual reading and bhajans - every Sunday from 10 to 11am.

Discussions on the Gita - every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 1pm with about 12 participants led by Shri Viswa Mohan Tiwari, Air Vice-Marshal (Retd.)

'Our Prayer' - recitation of a prayer given by the Mother for those who wish to serve the Divine, followed by meditation is done daily at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan. 

Yogasan & Pranayam programme - Monday to Saturday, for one hour, is being held at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Noida. The programme, conducted by Acharya Virendra Nath Pandey, a scholar of Sanskrit and the Gita, is attended by 10 participants.

Free eye checks/consultations - every Sunday from 11.00am to 1.00pm by Dr. P.S. Chauhan.

Free Acupressure Treatment - for two hours daily from Monday to Friday by Shri Girish Prakash Shukla at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan.
Madhya Pradesh State Committee Meeting: 22 January 2011
The Madhya Pradesh State Committee meeting was held on 22nd January 2011, and presided over by Shri Vijay K. Poddar. The meeting was held to look into the activities of the State's Centres and Branches and how the activities could be extended further to include nearby villages.

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)

Anniversary of the installation of Sri Aurobindo's sacred Relics, 15 - 17 December 2010: 
A 3-day celebration was organised by the Bhopal Branch of the Sri Aurobindo Society to commemorate the anniversary of the installation of Sri Aurobindo's sacred Relics.
- On the morning of 15th December a talk, 'Life Management' was held at the Sagar Institute of Research and Technology. The speakers were Shri Kaivalya Smart and Shri Manoj Sharma. In the evening Shri Kaivalya Smart spoke on 'Sri Aurobindo on the Upanishads' at the Branch.
- On 16th morning, at 9.30 am Shri Kaivalya Smart inaugurated a science exhibition at the Sri Aurobindo School, Bhopal. He also spoke on the 'Important events in Sri Aurobindo's Life'. Later in the morning Shri Kaivalya Smart and Shri Manoj Sharma spoke on 'Concentration' at the Model School. In the evening a question and answer session was held at the Branch.
- On the 17th talks on 'Gita in the light of Sri Aurobindo' by Dr. D.N. Joshi and Shri Satish Chitwar were held at the Branch premises.

New Year Celebrations, 1 & 2 January 2011: 
Meditation was held around the Relics on New Year's day, followed by distribution of the message card. On 2nd January Dr. D.N. Joshi spoke on 'Purusha' as the topic for the month.

Indore (Madhya Pradesh)

Workshop on 'Life Management', 1 January 2011: 
The Indore branch celebrated the new year by holding a half-day workshop on 'Life Management in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother' for the faculty and staff of Prestige Institute of Management, Indore. Dr. Suman Kocher, Chairperson of Sri Aurobindo Society, who conducted the workshop, explained the concept with a PPT Presentation. Dr. Kocher also delivered a lecture on Naturopathy, health and balanced diet. The Workshop ended with participants doing asanas and meditation.

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)
28 December 2010: Dr. Meeta Bisen, Chairperson of the Society's Lucknow-Jopling Road Centre addressed a group of 40 students involved in the social and economic development of rural women. They discussed the problems which they are facing in the area and were given the following booklets in Hindi for distribution - Nari Ko Uske Bare Mein; Bachchon Ka Sahi Lalan Plan; and Shri Ma Ek Jeevan Parichay. They were also introduced to the work of SARVAM which inspired the students to plan to work along the same lines.
Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh)
9 January 2011: A programme was organised at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra on 'The relevance of Sri Aurobindo' and 'Aims and Objectives of the Sri Aurobindo Society'. The function was presided over by Prof. Mayank, a noted scholar of Azamgarh while the main speaker was Dr. J.P. Singh. Booklets and the 15th August Darshan message cards were distributed to the 53 participants who attended the function.
Mathura Centre (Uttar Pradesh)
The Mathura Centre of the Sri Aurobindo Society celebrated the beginning of 2011 with a 'Prakash Utsav', where members lighted candles for the invocation of Mother's grace upon everyone. The ceremony concluded with a collective meditation.

New Delhi
a. 3 January 2011: 
On the first working day of 2011, Monday, 3rd January, all the sadhaks, volunteers, devotees and teachers of the Navakriti School gathered in the meditation room for a collective meditation following which Darshan cards and Prasad were distributed.

b. 9 January 2011:
A programme for senior citizens, 'Grand Parents Day', was organised by the Delhi Branch on 9th January. Mr. S.L. Mittal, Executive Committee Member, gave a talk on Rhythmic Breathing Exercises, explaining how regular exercise can help reduce stress. Around 40 senior citizens, including some grandparents of Navakriti students, participated in the event.

News from Abroad Nairobi (Kenya)

a. 17 December 2010: 
The Society's Nairobi Centre presented 2000 booklets of ten different titles to The Karen Hospital on 17th December. The hospital, which has a main hospital and two satellite clinics in Nairobi, has agreed to place the booklets in all the main reception areas for patients while some will be distributed to the hospital staff.

b. 20th December 2010: 
Two members of the Nairobi Centre, Sri Aurobindo Society, visited the Physically Disabled Society of Kenya in Nairobi on 20th December where they were welcomed by the Deputy Director and other officials. After a brief introduction on the aims and activities of Sri Aurobindo Society, 2000 booklets of ten different titles were presented to the PDSK to be kept at its main outlets in and around Nairobi.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Abandon dogma and embark upon individual journeys of inner discovery

In the section economy we publish an interview with Professor Emeritus Dr. Henk Thomas from The Netherlands and Chartered Accountant Manuel Thomas from Chennai on their forthcoming monograph on 40 years Auroville economy, the result of almost 12 years of research into the development of the Auroville economy from1968 till 2008, which will be published this year.
Another article dealing with the Auroville economy is about the introduction of the Aurocard, a credit-card size smart card that will gradually replace the guest card and guest account which have been used for many years.
In the section ‘references' Alan talks about the pressing need that antagonistic and mutually exclusive approaches be harmonized, where each can comprehend the truth of the other. This requires the courage to abandon dogma and embark upon individual journeys of inner discovery…December 2010
Development challenges for Auroville are the main theme of the December 2010 issue of Auroville Today... November 2010
For those adults who don't have teenagers of their own or who lack regular contact with Auroville teenagers, the youth of Auroville are something of an enigma. What are they really like? What are their preoccupations and their goals? What do they find to celebrate about this place and what frustrates them? And what is the nature of their relationship to Auroville? To find out more, Auroville Today spoke to two classes of 18 – 20 year olds at Future School . Some had joined Auroville relatively recently, but almost half of them were born in Auroville.
Are the youth losing faith in Auroville? Carissa J. Devine, a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar from the USA who did a research project on the Auroville youth, believes so and writes that ‘the youth are subject to despair, disconnection and frustration'. This opinion, however, is not shared. And if we look at what the current generation of young adults in Auroville are doing, we see that the majority of those who left Auroville for some time, be it for studies or work experience, came back and are now pioneering new communities and starting businesses and service units. None of them seem to have lost the faith.
Auroville Radio provides daily information about life in the international community of Auroville. Need to Celebrate
Krishna from Solitude Farm, and leading man of Emergence talks about past festival in Auroville.
“There I got a chance to see Auroville. I observed old-timer Aurovilleans doing lot of work in healing of the earth, land restoration and food farming. ...
She worked as a textile designer for Auroville, where she handled mostly organic fabric and then came back to Bangalore to work for a textile studio. ... 
Israel who are studying drama at the Performing Arts Studios in that city; the other by the Mohanam Performing Arts Group from Auroville in Chennai. ...
AUP students, who spent their winter break 2010 in Auroville, ... The Auroville Sustainable Development Practicum takes a practical approach to teaching ...
Film: AUROVILLE - The city the earth needs ... Auroville is an ambitious experience, a kind of laboratory from where will perhaps come out the ideal town of ...
Went around to the Auroville Ashram where you find the mammoth Matri Mandir, ... The route to the Auroville Ashram is covered with a Green Canopy almost as ...