Guiding Light of The Month

O LORD, Thou art my refuge and my blessing, my strength, my health, my hope, and my courage. Thou art supreme Peace, unalloyed Joy, perfect Serenity. My whole being prostrates before Thee in a gratitude beyond measure and a ceaseless worship; and that worship goes up from my heart and my mind towards Thee like the pure smoke of incense of the perfumes of India. - The Mother

The Human Race in Light of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga: ‘Three Stages of Society’ - Towards spiritualized society


‘Human knowledge and power manifest in many ways in the course of evolution. Three stages of it can be noticed - a natural state dominated by the body and controlled by life force, an intermediate and more advanced state predominantly rational, and the last highest state in which the soul is predominant’ – ‘From dominance of life to reason, from reason to the suprarational love, these are the steps of man’s ascent to the peaks of God’ (‘Dharma’ by Sri Aurobindo). ‘Man, when he is dominated by the body and driven by life-force is a slave of desires and interests. He knows only inherent selfishness, ordinary instinct and impulse’ (ibid.).

In several parts of the world, at the dawn of civilizations, as the mental faculties of thinking and reasoning evolved, human beings learnt to associate themselves into small groups or tribes for exchange of their physical needs like food, water, shelter. The earliest tribal life primarily consisted of hunting, growing food, construction of shelters and finding mutual means of protection from environmental threats. Major interaction, commitment within its members was predominantly for fulfillment of physical needs. Desire to preserve their resources for future, motivated them to learn agriculture, construction of shelters and protection from natural calamities. Living together and equally sharing pleasure and pain, they experienced the first emotional attachment that culminated in group identity. Major social interactions in the modern age are also based on these materialistic necessities and mutual dependencies.

‘The man who is primarily intellectual always tries to regulate his desires and interests by reason.’ (‘Dharma’ by Sri Aurobindo)

The development of mental capacities did not stop after fulfillment of bodily needs. Dissatisfaction with the existing achievements motivated continuous search for better means of life. Probing into the mysteries of nature around them and finding means to overcome the hurdles for their physical existence continued uninterrupted. The psychological and emotional bonding gradually resulted into formation of a family, a group or a tribe and a society dissolving the individual egos into that of the group. These societies together formed into clans, kingdoms and states and further expanded into nations. People communicated and exchanged their ideas as languages began to develop. Rational mind with its questioning power has resulted in advancements in science and technology that could provide more comforts of life. Art and poetry were the outcome of the subtle and aesthetic mind finding great joy in self expression. Intellectual and rational thinking plays a predominant role even in present times in our social interaction.

When did this concept of spirit and God, the perception of the divine spark begin in the human societies? In spite of physical growth and intellectual or rational progress, man was still searching for the secret that would reconnect him with his origin, the power that would give him true joy. Death and impermanence of the material world always puzzled him. His love for life motivated him to search for means of attaining immortality and control the unknown laws of nature.

‘To the primitive man everything is living in the first place, and to him death in the sense of annihilation has no meaning at all. People come to him, go away, and come again. Sometimes they go away and do not come. Therefore in the most ancient language of the world death is always expressed by some sort of going. This is the beginning of religion. Thus the primitive man was searching everywhere for a solution of his difficulty — where do they all go?’(‘The Complete Works of Swami Vivekanada, Volume 8’).

The early Egyptians mummified their dead bodies and built pyramids in quest of immortality. Their entire religion was in search of a spirit imperishable and immortal. They dreamed of living eternally and desired that life should not cease. The ancient Chinese did intensive research to invent the elixir of life for longevity and immortality. This quest for immortality or prolonging of life is being carried out incessantly throughout ages across the world both by science and metaphysics.

The endeavors to perceive the spirit behind all existence and the inner spiritual experiences of enlightened souls gave birth to all religions that aimed at realizing this inherent oneness of spirit and Divine spark within as well as around us. Establishing a society nurtured on spiritual Oneness and Divine laws is the primary purpose of all faiths.

‘A spiritualized society would live like its spiritual individuals, not in the ego, but in the spirit, not as the collective ego, but as the collective soul. (‘Human Cycle’, by Sri Aurobindo, page 255)’. ‘For the perfectly spiritualized society will be one in which, as is dreamed by the spiritual anarchist, all men will be deeply free, and it will be so because the preliminary condition will have been satisfied. In that state each man will be not a law to himself, but the law, the divine Law, because he will be a soul living in the Divine Reality and not an ego living mainly if not entirely for its own interest and purpose. His life will be led by the law of his own divine nature liberated from the ego. (‘Human Cycle’, by Sri Aurobindo, page 259)’.

In spite of great advancements in all spheres of life, we see around the world today extreme discontentment, disharmony, conflict and mutual hatred between different groups that often compel us to think pessimistically about the possible annihilation of human species. The combined egos of different people based on ethnic or religious groupings are expanding enormously. The clash of these egos is creating disharmony in human societies preventing their very peaceful coexistence and joy of life. On the positive side, simultaneously there is also growing awareness about the spiritual oneness of humanity and a conscious aspiration for a spiritualized society as envisioned in last Mantra of Rigveda (10-191-4) ‘Samani Vha Aakuti, Samana Hrudyani Vha, Samanam Astu Vo Mano, Yatha Vha Su Saha Asti’ (Unite your resolve, unite your hearts, may your spirits be at one, that you may long together dwell in unity and concord).
‘A spiritualized society can alone bring about a reign of individual harmony and communal happiness; or, in words which, though liable to abuse by the reason and the passion, are still the most expressive we can find, a new kind of theocracy, the kingdom of God upon earth, a theocracy which shall be the government of mankind by the Divine in the hearts and minds of men.’ (‘Human Cycle’, by Sri Aurobindo, page 182).
Note : Sri Aurobindo’s first article on human society written in his weekly ‘Dharma’, in 1909, gives us an initial glimpse of his visions on spiritualized human society expressed in ‘Human Cycle’ and ‘Ideal of Human Unity’ .

- Sundari KBT( kbt.sundari@gmail.com)

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