Guiding Light of The Month

In this immense heroic struggle, in this sublime struggle of love against hatred, of justice against injustice, of obedience to Thy supreme law against revolt, may I gradually be able to make humanity worthy of a still sublimer peace in which, all internal dissensions having ceased, the whole effort of man may be united for the attainment of a more and more perfect and integral realisation of Thy divine Will and Thy progressive ideal. - The Mother

War and Peace (continued from the July 2014 issue)

And so, Sri Aurobindo's 75th birthday - Friday 15 August 1947 - became the day of India's independence. In his message for the day, intended for broadcast from the Tiruchirapalli station of the All India Radio, Sri Aurobindo dwelt in some detail on the significance of the double event and the possibilities of the future. First about his birthday coinciding with the day of Independence:

“As a mystic, I take this identification, not as a coincidence or fortuitous accident, but as a sanction and seal of the Divine Power which guides my steps on the work with which I began my life. Indeed almost all the world movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though at that time they looked like impossible dreams, I can observe on this day either approaching fruition or initiated and on the way to their achievement.”

Then he spoke of the five ideals or movements: a revolution which would bring about India's freedom and unity; the resurgence and liberation of Asia; the emergence of 'one world' in place of the many warring nationalisms; the assumption by India of the spiritual leadership of the human race; and, “finally, a new step in the evolution which, by uplifting the consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of the many problems of existence which have perplexed and vexed humanity, since men began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.”. India had become free, but because of the Partition, it was only a “fissured and broken freedom”. It was sad that the old communal division into Hindu and Muslim should have at last “hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country”. But he added also this word of caution doubled with a word of prophecy:

“It is to be hoped that the Congress and the nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. The partition of the country must go, it is to be hoped by a slackening of tension, by a progressive understanding of the need of peace and concord, by the constant necessity of common and concerted action, even of an instrument of union for that purpose. In this way unity may come about under whatever form - the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance. But by whatever means, the division must and will go. For without it the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and even frustrated. But that must not be.”

During the long years since this prophetic declaration was made, we have been witnessing the fulfilment almost to the letter of the many fears and hopes then expressed: the constant tension between India and Pakistan, the endemic prevalence of civil strife, the Chinese invasion of 1962, the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, the terrific strain on India's economy, the reign of genocide in East Pakistan in 1971, the coming of 10 million refugees to India, the emergence of free Bangladesh followed by the Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan, and the hint of a possible betterment of relations between the nations that now constitute the Indian subcontinent. But whether - or when, and in what manner - Sri Aurobindo's positive forecast that the Partition “must and will go” would be accomplished is still for the future to unfold. As regards Sri Aurobindo's other seemingly impossible dreams, in August 1947 they did seem in greater or lesser measure to be in a process of fulfilment:

“Asia has arisen and large parts of it have been liberated or are at this moment being liberated.... There India has her part to play and has begun to play it....The unification of mankind is under way, though only in an imperfect initiative, organised but struggling against tremendous difficulties. But the momentum is there....The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure...The rest ["a new step in evolution..."] is still a personal hope and an idea and ideal which has begun to take hold both in India and in the West on forward-looking minds.... Here too... the initiative can come from India....Such is the content which I put into this date of India's liberation; whether or how far or how soon this connection will be fulfilled, depends upon this new and free India.”

It was an extraordinary message, notable alike for its vast comprehension and its insights into the near and far future. It was a message for the statesmen and the philosophers, for bridge-builders and man-makers, and for the forward-looking men and women of all countries. On the other hand, for the millions and millions of Mother India's children now suddenly sundered by the mechanics of the Partition, for the numberless Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists who still felt that they lived only as the cells and arteries and tissues and blood-corpuscles of India the one beloved Mother of one and all, for these anguished children the right prayer for the occasion that evoked joy and sorrow at once, was given by the Mother out of her vast compassionate understanding and love:

“O our Mother, O Soul of India, Mother who hast never forsaken thy children even in the days of darkest depression, even when they turned away from thy voice, served other masters and denied thee, now when they have arisen and the light is on thy face in this dawn of thy liberation, in this great hour we salute thee. Guide us so that the horizon of freedom opening before us may be also a horizon of true greatness and of thy true life in the community of the nations. Guide us so that we may be always on the side of great ideals and show to men thy true visage, as a leader in the ways of the spirit and a friend and helper of all the peoples.”

Also, in the morning the Mother hoisted her flag which was to be called “the Spiritual Flag of India” - blazoning forth India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Ceylon all together, with her own symbol at the centre, over the main Ashram building. There was a record number of visitors to the Ashram, and over two thousand had Darshan in the afternoon. Presently the Mother appeared on the low terrace over Dyuman's room; the courtyard was packed to capacity. The Bande Mataram was sung as it had never been sung before, for now it was the moment of fulfilment, and the Mother responded with 'Jai Hind!' and the congregation was to cherish the memory of her marvellous gesture for long afterwards.

The Mother's - flag the Spiritual Flag of India - which since 15 August 1947 has been for us a flaming minister, a symbol of hope and a declaration of faith, has been flying high and serene in the minds and sensibilities of countless numbers of Indians. The blue flag figuring the great Indian subcontinent stretching from Kashmir to Sri Lanka, from Sind to Burma, environed by the Himalaya in the North, the Indian ocean in the South, the Arabian sea on the West and the Bay of Bengal in the East, and with the Mother's symbol of her Shakti, her four powers and her twelve emanations concentrically arranged as the heart of the living Mother of a seething mass of humanity numbering almost a billion, - what is this Spiritual Flag of India but a revelation, an epiphanic projection, a visual recordation of the deeper reality, the inspiring Truth, of this primordial Asiatic region, the matrix of the stupendous human adventure on the earth, and the destined scene of the next leap forward to the horizons of supermanhood? This flag symbolising the spiritual reality and unity of Greater India - the true India - was verily the Mother's answer to the brutal partition of India decreed by the erstwhile British rulers and accepted by the short-sighted and faint-hearted Indian leaders of 1947, for the Spiritual Flag of India with the Mother's symbol as the central design and highlighted by the blue background was the Ashram's flag as well. Explaining its significance, Sri Aurobindo said in 1949:

“The blue of the flag is meant to be the colour of Krishna and so represents the spiritual or divine consciousness which it is her work to establish so that it may reign upon earth.”

It is used as the Ashram flag because “our work is to bring down this consciousness and make it the leader of the world's life”. It was by no means irrelevant to talk of the Spiritual Flag of India, for the Spirit is elemental Affirmation, the Everlasting Yea; the Spirit is the great harmoniser; the Spirit is the great unifier. What the politicians, the communalists, the calculators, the soulless power-mongers, the pinchbeck lords of the sub-nations had fissured and fractured and sundered, the Mother still viewed as an integral whole, breathed life into it, and lighted up the divine Agni within. The physical body is a prisoner of its own limitations, the vital is often caught at cross-purposes, even the mind is usually content to be a slave of the vital's irrational pulls and drives: these are but dungeons walled within the walls of the human personality. Only the soul can leap over all frontiers; only the river of the human soul can flow seraphically free from all obstruction and join the ocean of the spirit; only the soul can affirm:

The world's deep contrasts are but figures spun
Draping the unanimity of the One.
My soul unhorizoned widens to measureless sight,
My body is God's happy living tool,
My spirit a vast sun of deathless light.

Like the human soul, the nation's soul too defies all man-made boundaries - physical, legal, constitutional - and embraces the infinities. Even so, by charging the new Map of India with a spiritual glow and infinitude of connotation, the Mother tried to undo in some measure the mischief of the Partition mentality of self-fragmentation, the surge of mutual suspicion and hatred, and the enthronement of communal and sub-national egoisms that were alien to the spiritual ideal of oneness, wholeness and integrality, India was the Mother - India was Bharati, Bhavani Bharati - and the Mother was not limited to the head alone, the feet alone, the hands alone, or even the visible body alone. The Mother's ambience of protective love and sovereign Grace overflowed the visible boundaries. Salute to the Mother! Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!


(‘On The Mother’, Chapter 32 – “War and Peace”, K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

Sri Aurobindo Says:

"For I have always held and said that India was arising, not to serve her own material interests only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity, though these too she must not neglect, and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and leader of the whole human race. Those aims and ideals were in their natural order these: a revolution which would achieve India's freedom and her unity; the resurgence and liberation of Asia and her return to the great role which she had played in the progress of human civilisation; the rise of a new, a greater, brighter and nobler life for mankind which for its entire realisation would rest outwardly on an international unification of the separate existence of the peoples, preserving and securing their national life but drawing them together into an overriding and consummating oneness; the gift by India of her spiritual knowledge and her means for the spiritualisation of life to the whole race; finally, a new step in the evolution which, by uplifting the consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of the many problems of existence which have perplexed and vexed humanity, since men began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society."                                                                                
– 15thAugust, 1947.

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