Date(s) - 01/08/2021 - 03/08/2021
(Celebrating 75 years of India’s Independence, 150th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo,)
Sri Aurobindo and India’s Renaissance
(1-3 August, 2021)
Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla,
Rashtram School of Public Leadership,
Rishihood University, Sonipat & Auroveda Foundation,
Prepared by Professor Sampadananda Mishra and Pariksith Singh
Sri Aurobindo has been hailed as a yuga purusha. One who embodies not only the salient features or movements of the age, but who also transforms it in his or her person. We encounter such beings usually as one age begins and another ends and they seem to appear only to facilitate the transition of a nation or civilization in its most seismic upheavals and shifts. Currently, India and the entire globe is being birthed into a new age in which Sri Aurobindo’s life and work can offer significant insights.
As an earthly man, Sri Aurobindo was a great revolutionary who fought and almost gave up his life for the freedom of India. After the 1857 “Indian Mutiny” or the “first war of independence,” India lay crushed and broken under the realm of the so-called Pax Britannica. It was unimaginable for Indians to claim freedom — a status equal to their colonial masters. In such a dark era, Sri Aurobindo was one of the early leaders who decisively turned the Indian National Congress towards its settled aim for poornaswarajya, complete freedom from the British and self-reliance based on its own innate genius.
But Sri Aurobindo was more than a revolutionary. He might be truly considered the light of the nation. For when the nation was floundering in doubt and uncertainty about its own destiny and dharma, he stood up to reveal who and what we were, whether in heart or mind or body, and furthermore, what was our soul and our truth. He carried the great task initiated by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda in the vitalization of the Indian people and, what is more, he brought it to its fullness, width and intensity.
Sri Aurobindo revealed to us what our ancient texts meant. And who we are as a people and the bearers of the ancient flame passed down to us by the ancient rishis. And he not only showed us our past and our subdued present but also our possibilities as a leader and mentor of the race – jagadguru.
He discovered for us our spirit that had grown latent and had withdrawn behind the surface and he established it once again in our soil with utmost selflessness. And he gave us self-belief and the pride in oneself, gaurav, without which no great enterprise is envisioned or made possible. He brought many of our ancient traditions together in a vast synthesis like Gita of Sri Krishna. Reconciling the complex ideas, contradictions and debates was nearly impossible, but he weaved the darshanas together while retaining their core offerings and values.
Sri Aurobindo stood up for us to the West, not in conflict but with a deep understanding of the value of the West’s contributions to mankind and its development and giving it its due in a mutual reconciliation and reciprocal interweaving. He demonstrated that foundational components of our civilization are of significant worth and utility, far more advanced in some ways than the creations of the west. And each of certain wisdom which saw life in an integral manner and not of a disparate or divisive mentality.
We as a nation have failed to embrace him fully, yet, quietly, patiently, he continued to lay the foundations of our nation. It is only now we are beginning to realize what he accomplished for us. As we become more and more confident about embracing our national conscience, his importance and influence will keep on growing.
Sri Aurobindo revealed that “All great movements of life in India have begun with the new spiritual thought and usually a new religious activity.” Commenting also on the conditions that were propitious for an Indian renaissance, Sri Aurobindo wrote that despite whatever temporary destruction this crude impact of European life and culture has caused, it gave three needed impulses to India. It revived the dormant intellectual and critical impulse; it rehabilitated life and awakened the desire for a new creation; it put the reviving Indian spirit face to face with novel conditions and ideals and the urgent necessity of understanding, assimilating and conquering them. The national mind turned a new eye on its past culture, re-awoke to its sense and import, but also at the same time saw it in relation to modern knowledge and ideas.
Sri Aurobindo put great store by such an Indianrenaissance when he stated unambiguously that “this new birth in India, must become a thing of immense importance …to herself …because of all that is meant for her in the recovery or the change of her time-old spirit”. He further emphasized that this renaissance is not an imitation of the West but a uniquely Indian one that is rooted in its spirituality and human consciousness and has the potential to transform not only India but the entire world.
Sri Aurobindo also analysed fundamental concepts like mind, consciousness, and their transformation.Particularly how the latter may shape the life, thought, actions and nature of a person or, indeed, of the entire human race. Some of these ideas and concepts travelled far and wide influencing new developments especially in psychology, neuroscience and human consciousness and are triggering further new developments that need to be understood and contextualized.
In this International Conference, we propose to discuss and addressthe above issues.
India is on the path of resurgence. Starting with political independence in 1947, we have attained a sort of autonomy in terms of material and economic aspects of our national existence. The next obvious stage is the mental, intellectual and spiritual resurgence and for that Sri Aurobindo has given a lot of thoughts, insights and a powerful blueprint. Sri Aurobindo called the seed of that process the Indian renaissance. Sri Aurobindo also gave a new vision for India so that it could lead to the evolution of mankind, of the entire humanity, starting with India.
Some of the themes/topics to be explored include:
(a) The contributions of Sri Aurobindo the conceptions of new Yuga.
(b) Sri Aurobindo’s ideas on (1) Indian Renaissance; (2) New India; (3) Human Consciousness.
(c) Indian Renaissance in comparison and contrast with the European Renaissance.
(d) The idea of New India as conceptualized by Sri Aurobindo and contrast it with the actual trajectory of post-independence India.
(e) Which of these insights on New India could be adopted for public policy, especially in the backdrop of the current government’s vision.
(f) To discuss how Sri Aurobindo’s vision for New India could be proliferated in various dimensions of Indian life.
(e) To contemporarise and contextualize Sri Aurobindo’s conceptions of mind, human consciousness and psychology. To examine how such ideas moved from India to other parts of the world and impacted frontiers of psychology, neuroscience and consciousness studies.
(f) To examine and critically discuss the application of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas in emerging science and technology, their ethical aspects and their impact on humanity at large in short, medium and long terms.
The conference will focus on the following thematic areas:
(a) Successes and Failure in the recovery of old spiritual knowledge and experience.
(b) Comparative analysis of Sri Aurobindo’s vision and the actual journey of post-Independence India.
(c) Radical innovations brought in our thought by Sri Aurobindo that mark the end of previous yuga and beginning of a new yuga.
(d) Has India already had a renaissance or does she need a new one?
(e) In what ways Indian Renaissance differ from the European Renaissance?
(f) External Influence on Indian Culture and Renaissance.
(g) Spirituality for a common man.
(h) Frontiers of Artificial Consciousness
(i) Artificial Consciousness – Shortcut or Distortion?
(j) Sri Aurobindo on Technology, Human Consciousness and Psychology
(k) Journey of Sri Aurobindo’s Ideas to the West
(l) Application of Sri Aurobindo’s Ideas in the Emergent Technology, Neuroscience and Consciousness
(m) How to solve modern problems originally while retaining the Indian Spirit and creating a spiritualized society?
(n) Who is an Indian? What is his nationalism?
CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
Those who are interested in listening to this conference may send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org