More than a writer, Sri Aurobindo is known as a mystic philosopher. He tried his hand at almost all literary genres and that too with finesse. So his reputation as one of the great Indian writers in English can’t be denied. His prose work “The Renaissance in India” is crown among his works. The four essays contain detailed discussion on subjects such as culture, religion, spirituality, education etc. It was first published in Arya from August to November 1918. He attempts to remove the misconception widespread in West about India’s nature of civilization.
Aurobindo complained that the spiritual side of India was over-stressed. Western scholars were all gung ho about it and Indians simply imitated them and shouted the same. Indians simply accepted that and expressed the same voice. However, they forgot that in other fields like philosophy, science, technology, logic we also made immense progress. However, we failed to show that side of India. It was not the case that west dominated singlehandedly in such subjects; and India in religion and spirituality. The greatness of India was such that we made multi faceted progress that included subjects other than spirituality. But due to misconception of Westerners and our ignorance about our own hidden treasure, the error continued. More than that, India imitated and followed the Westerners blindly in all but religion. As a result, there was no significant contribution by them. Then they came to know about their rich past. Sri Aurobindo here cites an example of Germany. The country was considered made up of dreamers, idealists, sentimentalists, docile, intelligent, but politically inept people. Later it was discovered that it was a brutal mistake to think like that about Germany. The same misconception was also true about India but the realization of India’s real strength won’t be the result of destruction. The India will captain the world in terms of knowledge of science and literature.
Indian spirituality saw the power of human being’s capacity much before the western mind could think of. She knew that visible was always surrounded by invisible, finite by infinite. Human can have power that one can ever believe, that is to transcend the human limitation. The spiritual power of India wasn’t grown out of void but her psychic tendency, her creativeness, her vitality, her yoga, her religion and so on. We see the mountaintops. They aren’t created without base, in the dream under the cloud. The same way there is infinite strength of India builds up the powerful spirituality that enchants the world since the time unknown. In Aurobindo’s own words, to describe the worldwide influence of Indian spirituality over the earth,
“The fine superfluity of her wealth brimmed over to Judea and Egypt and Rome; her colonies spread her arts and epics and creeds in the Archipelago; her traces are found in the sands of Mesopotamia; her religion conquered China and Japan and spread westward as far as Palestine and Alexandria, and the figures of Upanishads and the sayings of the Buddhists are re-echoed on the lips of Christ.”
India is the land of Dharma and Shashtra. She worked laboriously to find the inner truth of human and created Shashtra. It wasn’t enough. She made Shashtra that was applicable to human life and helped us to live better. She witnessed three luminous periods in Indian history. First was of the exploration of Spirit, second was of Dharma and third, of Shashtra. From the age of Ashoka down to the Mohammaden epoch, she continued to produce intellectual property; it was as if the volcano of knowledge were bursting forth. We know there was no printing press or techniques to preserve such knowledge except easily perishable palm leaf and memory. There was no parallel of such high intellectual activity in the world history, which can be compared to that of Indians. It is only recently that the dormant knowledge was found and put forward to the entire world to be benefited by...
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