Let Us All Work For the Greatness Of India

The Renaissance in India

THE RENAISSANCE IN INDIA AND OTHER ESSAYS ON INDIAN CULTUREIs India CivilisedA Rationalistic Critic on Indian CultureIndian Spirituality and LifeThe Renaissance in IndiaIndian Literature

A defence of Indian civilisation and culture, with essays on Indian spirituality, religion, art, literature, and polity.

Sri Aurobindo began the ‘Foundations’ series as an appreciative review of Sir John Woodroffe’s book, ‘Is India Civilised?’, continued it with a rebuttal of the hostile criticisms of William Archer in ‘India and Its Future’, and concluded it with his own estimation of India’s civilisation and culture.

In Sri Aurobindo’s view India is one of the greatest of the world’s civilisations because of its high spiritual aim and the effective manner in which it has impressed this aim on the forms and rhythms of its life. “A spiritual aspiration was the governing force of this culture”, he wrote, “its core of thought, its ruling passion. Not only did it make spirituality the highest aim of life, but it even tried…to turn the whole of life towards spirituality.” Sri Aurobindo held that an aggressive defence of India culture was necessary to counter the invasion of the predominantly materialistic modern Western culture. His Foundations is precisely such a defence.

Contents: Part I: The Issue; Is India Civilised?;
Part II: A Rationalistic Critic on Indian Culture;
Part III: A Defence of Indian Culture; Indian Culture and External Influence; The Renaissance in India.

Subjects: Indology, Philosophy, Religion, Political Thought, Art, Literature.

Extract
A true happiness in this world is the right terrestrial aim of man, and true happiness lies in the finding and maintenance of a natural harmony of spirit, mind and body. A culture is to be valued to the extent to which it has discovered the right key of this harmony and organised its expressive motives and movements. And a civilisation must be judged by the manner in which all its principles, ideas, forms, ways of living work to bring that harmony out, manage its rhythmic play and secure its continuance or the development of its motives. A civilisation in pursuit of this aim may be predominantly material like modern European culture, predominantly mental and intellectual like the old Graeco-Roman or predominantly spiritual like the still persistent culture of India. India’s central conception is that of the Eternal, the Spirit here incased in matter, involved and immanent in it and evolving on the material plane by rebirth of the individual up the scale of being till in mental man it enters the world of ideas and realm of conscious morality, dharma. This achievement, this victory over unconscious matter develops its lines, enlarges its scope, elevates its levels until the increasing manifestation of the sattwic or spiritual portion of the vehicle of mind enables the individual mental being in man to identify himself with the pure spiritual consciousness beyond Mind. India’s social system is built upon this conception; her philosophy formulates it; her religion is an aspiration to the spiritual consciousness and its fruits; her art and literature have the same upward look; her whole Dharma or law of being is founded upon it. Progress she admits, but this spiritual progress, not the externally self-unfolding process of an always more and more prosperous and efficient material civilisation. It is her founding of life upon this exalted conception and her urge towards the spiritual and the eternal that constitute the distinct value of her civilisation. And it is her fidelity, with whatever human shortcomings, to this highest ideal that has made her people a nation apart in the human world (p.2)

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The first thing we see is that the principle, the essential intention of Indian culture was extraordinarily high, ambitious and noble, the highest indeed that the human spirit can conceive. For what can be a greater idea of life than that which makes it a development of the spirit in man to its most vast, secret and high possibilities, – a culture that conceives of life as a movement of the Eternal in time, of the universal in the individual, of the infinite in the finite, of the Divine in man, or holds that man can become not only conscious of the eternal and the infinite, but live in its power and universalise, spiritualise and divinise himself by self-knowledge? What greater aims can be for the life of man than to grow by inner and outer experience till he can live in God, realise his spirit, become divine in knowledge, in will and in the joy of his highest existence? And that is the whole sense of the striving of Indian culture.

It is easy to say that these ideas are fantastic, chimerical and impracticable, hat there is no spirit and no eternal and nothing divine, and man would do much better not to dabble in religion and philosophy, but rather make the best he can of the epemeral littleness of his life and body. That is a negation natural enough to the vital and physical mind, but it rests on the assumption that man can only be what he is at the moment, and there is nothing greater in him which it is his business to evolve; such a negation has no enduring value. The whole aim of a great culture is to lift man upto something which at first he is not, to lead him to knowledge though he starts from an unfathomable ignorance, to teach him to live by his reason, though actually he lives much more by his unreason, by the law of good and unity, though he is now full of evil and discord, by a law of beauty and harmony, though his actual life is a repulsive muddle of ugliness and jarring barbarisms, by some high law of his spirit, though at present he is egoistic, material, unspiritual, engrosed by the needs and desires of his physical being. If a civilisation has not any of these aims, it can hardly at all be said to have a culture and certainly in no sense a great and noble culture. But the last of these aims, as conceived by ancient India, is the highest of all because it includes and surpasses all the others. To have made this attempt is to have ennobled the life of the race; to have failed in it is better than if it had never at all been attempted; to have achieved even a partial success is a great contribution to the future possibilities of the human being.
– Sri Aurobindo

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001. CWSA 20, Pages 55-58

A BOOK under this rather startling title……………………………….forms for her own salvation and the total welfare of the human race.

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002. CWSA 20, Pages 58-61

But many questions may arise………………………………..to live or to perish.

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003. CWSA 20, Pages 61-63

The warning cannot be neglected………………………if the defence is to be effective.

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004. CWSA 20, Pages 63-66

This great question must be given its larger……………………..preparation of oneness.

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005. CWSA 20, Pages 67-70

This question of Indian civilisation………………………later nineteenth-century Europe.

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006. CWSA 20, Pages 70-77

But now other movements………………………….to be the end of our efforts.

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007. CWSA 20, Page 77-78

Aggressive defence implies a ………………………………………….power of the genius of India.

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008. CWSA 20, Page 79-83

But there is yet another point of view………………………………..external turmoil and outward-looking endeavour.

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009. CWSA 20, Page 83-86

If on the other hand an ancient Indian of the time……………………….appreciation of past and extant cultures.

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010. CWSA 20, Page 86-88

For this past and present………………………………completely followed in power of practice.

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011. CWSA 20, Page 88-91

But far more helpful than any ……………………………robust and victorious survival.

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012. CWSA 20, Page 91-92

And now survival itself has become……………………………the environmental requirements of our future.

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013. CWSA 20, Page 92-93

That view opens out a …………….manifestation of the spirit.

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014. CWSA 20, Page 97-108

When we try to appreciate a culture, and when that………………subjected to the inward look of the spirit.

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015. CWSA 20, Page 108-17

Our critic has felt the importance of this central point…………………………hidden shores of the spirit.

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016. CWSA 20, Page 118-124

This criticism so far is not very formidable………………………capable only of unsubstantial metaphysics.

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017. CWSA 20, Page 124-134

It is perfectly true that Indian science………………………unpromising material into forms for its spirit.

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018. CWSA 20, Page 147-148

The rites, ceremonies, system of cult and worship………………………..there is abundant internal and foreign evidence.

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019. CWSA 20, Page 149-165

Morality is for the Western mind mostly……………………………..ascension towards this supreme summit. (Selected passages)

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020. CWSA 20, Page 169-73

If we would understand the essential………………………………..subtlety and were available to all men of culture.

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021. CWSA 20, Page 173-77

But while there was provision for all these things…………………………..its strength to give the impulse of a great renascence.

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022. CWSA 20, Page 178-79

Indian Spirituality and Life………………………………..understanding of the true sense and spirit of Indian culture.

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023. CWSA 20, Page 179-82

Now just here is the first……………………………………..and a strong principle of oneness.

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024. CWSA 20, Page 182-86

The fundamental idea of all Indian religion……………………………..supremely spiritual culture.

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025. CWSA 20, Page 186-92

The endless variety of Indian philosophy……………………………….cosmic universalism of the Vedic scriptures.

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026. CWSA 20, Page 192-95

Indian religion founded itself on……………………………………at last to the supreme experience.

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027. CWSA 20, Page 195-98

One thing however has to be noted………………………………………process of man’s growth towards the heights.

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028. CWSA 20, Page 198-201

In its earliest form, its first Vedic……………………………………..development of our historic culture.

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029. CWSA 20, Page 201-07

This inner Vedic religion………………………………………of the balance of Indian culture.

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030. CWSA 20, Page 207-11

Indian religion followed this line………………………………………experience and highest absolute status.

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031. CWSA 20, Page 211-13

This great effort and achievement………………………………………………..the meaning of her existence.

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032. CWSA 20, Page 214-17

Indian Spirituality and Life – 3………………………………………………both of man’s inner and his outer existence.

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033. CWSA 20, Page 217

In the plan of its first aim it came nearer…………………………attractiveness and power of survival.

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034. CWSA 20, Page 218-21

But the turn given to the other…………………………………..the summits of divine experience.

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035. CWSA 20, Page 221

It was to meet the need of the first type……………………………………the ignorance of material Nature.

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036. CWSA 20, Page 222-23

The middle stage, the second type starts…………………………………………a spiritual universality, communion, transcendence.

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037. CWSA 20, Page 223-27

But distinctions are lines that can always………………………………….comprehension and unity and of divine transcendence.

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038. CWSA 20, Page 227-29

The system of Indian ethics liberalised by the catholicity……………..mounted through these powers to its perfection.

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039. CWSA 20, Page 229-31

Thus the whole general character of the application………………………hold of the intention which was behind the execution.

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040. CWSA 20, Page 231

I have dwelt at some length……………………………………….sense of the striving of Indian culture.

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041. CWSA 20, Page 231-44

It is easy to say that these ideas are fantastic……………………………………………..a proof of the highest vigour of existence. (Selected Passages)

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043. Mr. Cousins puts the question in his book………………..the stirring of life and energy because it is the Infinite. 4-8

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044. But this supreme spirituality and this prolific……………………..was exclusive, the three elements are always present. 8-9

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045. In this third period the curious elaboration……………………………of action, created the harmony of the ancient Indian culture. 9-10

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046. Indeed without this opulent vitality and………………………………………………without the least concession to idealism or ethicism. 10-11

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047. Everywhere we find this tendency………………decline it was the one thing she could never lose. 11-13

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048. But this spiritual tendency does not………………………………………………It completed the curve of the cycle. 13

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049. But this spiritual tendency does not………………………………………………It completed the curve of the cycle. 13

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050. But this spiritual tendency does not………………………………………………It completed the curve of the cycle. 13

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051. The evening of decline which followed………………………………………….face of new and unprecedented conditions. 14

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052. It was at this moment that the European………………………………………..its help to the future of humanity. 14-15

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053. It was at this moment that the European………………………………………..its help to the future of humanity. 14-15

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054. The Spirit is a higher infinite of………………………………………..of the renaissance of India. 15-16

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055. The process which has led up to……………………………………..the first importance to the future of human civilisation. 17-18

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056. The process which has led up to……………………………………..no longer possessed or overcome by it. 17

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057. Nothing in the many processes of Nature,………………………………………………….the future of human civilisation. 17-18

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058. This was not the idea of the…………………………………………………..beyond any chance of vigorous revival. 18-19

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059. Nevertheless, this earliest period of crude………………………of the integral self-finding of her renaissance. 19-22

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060. TO ATTEMPT to penetrate through………………………………………return of spirituality upon life. 23-26

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061. But what are likely to be the great constructive………………….social mind and action of the awakened people. 26-31

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062. THE RENAISSANCE thus determining itself……………………………………………..it can be and in its fullness must be all-inclusive. 32-34

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063. But still there is a great difference……………………………………………………into the nature of the Godhead. 34-35

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064. So with all our aims and activities; spirituality…………………………………………………. own richest and completest significances. 35-38

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065. India can best develop herself and………………………………………….coming upon her, is the question of her destiny 38-40

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066. THE ARTS which appeal to the soul……………………………..or most sensitive representative spirits. 314

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067. And if we ask what in both these respects…………………………………soul and mind of the Indian people. 314-17

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068. The early mind of India in the magnificent……………………………………..find in painting and sculpture. 317-18

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069. And after that we have powerful and beautiful……………………word which was spoken by the Rig Veda. 318-21

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070. Western scholars choose to imagine……………………………………………….Play, O Ray, and manifest thyself. 321-22

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071. Or again in the succeeding hymn,—……………………………………………………outward figures and circumstances. 322-24

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072. Or an outward figure nearest to……………………………………………………………..poet or the exaltation of his utterance. 324

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073. The poets of the Veda had another…………………………………………………….putting in front one of his aspects. 324

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074. The life of man was to these seers…………………………………………canons of the physical existence. 324-25

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075. The invocation “Play,ORay, and become………………………………………………………..and complete on the heights of self-knowledge. 326-30

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076. The upanishads are the supreme work……………………………..on the heights of self-knowledge. 329-30

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077. This character of the Upanishads needs…………………………………………….largest meaning in the deeper truth of the spirit. 330-31

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078. And yet these works are not philosophical……………………………………………the object of knowledge is Jnana. 331-32

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079. And because it is only by an integral………………………………………………………….and an immeasurable completeness. 332-33

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081. The VEDA is thus the spiritual and psychological…………………………………………………….succeeding period of Indian literary creation. 342

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082. This movement of the Indian mind……………………………………………………………..the method of spiritual liberation, moksa. 342-43

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083 The work of the social thinkers…………………………………………………………….in the whole conception, function and structure. 343-45

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084 One of the elements of the old Vedic…………………………………………………..and the imagination and the intelligence. 345-47

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085 The Mahabharata especially is not…………………………………………………..represented in the terms of human life. 347-48

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086 The way in which this double form is worked out………………..soul and thought and life of a people. 348-49

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087 The Ramayana is a work of the ……………………………formal outsides of virtue and conduct. 349-51

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