Guiding Light of The Month

Tell me, wilt Thou grant me the marvellous power to give birth to this dawn in expectant hearts, to awaken the consciousness of men to Thy sublime presence, and in this bare and sorrowful world awaken a little of Thy true Paradise? What happiness, what riches, what terrestrial powers can equal this wonderful gift! - The Mother

Walking in Light – A Peek at Physical Culture

If perfection is to be the crown of physical culture, then this culture would do to be nurtured right from a very young age. Sri Aurobindo iterates that physical education begins right from birth1. The Mother goes a step further and points out that it should be even pre-natal, from the time of conception. “The work really commences when, by the power of thought and will, we conceive and create a character capable of manifesting an ideal.”2. When focusing on the growth of children, the spotlight inevitably falls on the mother, importantly, the father and guardians and caregivers of children, teachers and facilitators, anyone at all who comes in contact with children.

As guardians of young souls, adults in touch with children invest upon themselves the indomitable task of facilitating the flowering of each soul left in one’s charge, whatever the period of time.

What are some areas that fall within the premises of nurturing a child from birth with a thrust on integral development, an all-rounded happy development of the child that brings to the fore-front all that is true and good and beautiful in the child and subsequently, in that adult who springs out of that child? In this issue, we deal with food.

A basic knowledge of how the body works, its dietary requirements, the proper functioning of the digestive tract and its direct relationship to the rest of the body parts, the necessary knowledge of maintenance of the body, its repair where old and worn out tissues are concerned, the building of new tissue and the type of food that prevents physical setbacks and illnesses.

To this end, Sri Aurobindo has spelt out the need of the adult to be in tune with the needs of the child, the specific dietary requirements according to the age and activity and phase of growth. Sri Aurobindo has also pointed out a unique trait of the body, when it is not assailed by mental notions and vital impulses, in recognizing and knowing what it needs and needs not. Here, there is the need to educate the child in the recognition of what is a bodily need apart from a desire of the vital or an inappropriate suggestion from the mentalising mind. There is also a suggestion to tend towards food that is simple and nutritious, “substantial and appetizing” without any needless “complications”. Children should also learn to consume food in the right amount in response to hunger and not to satisfy any “greed or gluttony”. Food is also to be prepared with a consideration for care and hygiene, in other words, food that is consciously prepared with love and goodwill will have a positive effect on the consumer than is the case otherwise. And lastly, Sri Aurobindo cautions against using food to blackmail a child into submission. It begs the question, “what is my business with the child?” Here, a clarity of one’s relationship with the child, a clarification of one’s role with the child coupled with one’s own aspiration for the highest possible for oneself and the seeking of perfection in what one engages in sets into rhythm a certain tempo in which working with children brings out the best in oneself and our little companions as well.

- Jayanthy


1. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (2000). Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on Education. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
2. Sri Aurobindo Society ( 2007). Pre-Natal Education – Towards a Glorious Future. Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry

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