In the words of the Mother from Pondicherry, “Long before the Christian religion made December 25th the day of Christ’s birth, this day was the festival of the return of the sun, the Day of Light. It is this very ancient symbol of the rebirth of the Light that we wish to celebrate here.”
The only artist from India of Sri Aurobindo’s stature in the last century is Tagore. And it is of interest to note that they both had the highest regard for each other. Sri Aurobindo, called him ‘a wayfarer towards the same goals as ours in his own way’, in a letter to DK Roy. While Tagore honored him after his arrest by the British in August 1907 for sedition as editor of the Bande Mataram,
“In the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise, Achilles is in a footrace with the tortoise. Achilles allows the tortoise a head start of 100 meters, for example. Suppose that each racer starts running at some constant speed, one faster than the other. After some finite time, Achilles will have run 100 meters, bringing him to the tortoise's starting point. During this time, the tortoise has run a much shorter distance, say 2 meters. It will then take Achilles some further time to run that distance, by which time the tortoise will have advanced farther; and then more time still to reach this third point, while the tortoise moves ahead. Thus, whenever Achilles arrives somewhere the tortoise has been, he still has some distance to go before he can even reach the tortoise.”
If there is one speech that every Indian must read, and not once but again and again, it is Sri Aurobindo’s speech in Uttarpara on May 30th, 1909, after his release from Alipore Jail. It is greater in significance for the nation than Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’ or Gandhi’s Ahmedabad trial in 1922 where he ‘plead guilty’ to the Chauri Chaura incident. And it is equal in relevance to some of the greatest speeches that changed the world in modern times, including Churchill’s ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ and Roosevelt’s ‘a date that shall live in infamy’ or Swami Vivekananda’s speech in Chicago conference of religions in 1892.
If Swaraj was a call to arms by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Vipin Chandra Pal and Sri Aurobindo, eventually fulfilled on India’s independence, his dream of a united India was the aspiration to ensure that India fulfil her destiny to its utmost.
Sankhya darshana is a distinctive contribution of India to world philosophy. It is a pity that it is not studied globally since it impacts not only metaphysics, but psychology, cosmogony, epistemology and soteriology. And it is one of the singular leaps in human thought that eventually, I believe, led to the flowering of Indic civilization, its world-view, its arts and sciences and its continued uniqueness.
It is the sound of the syllables and the words, the rhythm and the harmonies, and the music in the background, the sound behind the sound. One needs to listen to it with utmost attention, silence, not with the physical ear, but in a deeper listening, srotrasya srotram. Let it vibrate through the marrow, be heard with the diaphragm, resonate layer by layer down to the toes and into the ground, and reverberate into space, endlessly. As if it is eternal, which, in reality, it is.