Guiding Light of The Month

All is light, all is love, ignorance and egoism are but vain phantoms, they can be dissolved. And over all things spreads Thy sovereign peace, Thy fecund calmness. - The Mother

War and Peace

The year 1947 saw Lord Mountbatten as Governor-General of India in Wavell's place. Mountbatten was given a free hand to deal with the developing chaotic situation in the country. He had a mandate too to make firm arrangements for the transfer of power to Indian hands. Mountbatten's arrival, however, was the occasion for fresh communal riots in the Punjab, partly engineered it is said, by a group of British officers stationed there. The dance of destruction and the Rake's progress of cynicism went hand in hand, and faith seemed to knuckle under. Writing on 9 April 1947, Sri Aurobindo referred to this cynicism, this “refusal to believe in anything at all, a decrease of honesty, an immense corruption, a preoccupation with food, money, comfort, pleasure, to the exclusion of higher things, and a general expectation of worse and worse things awaiting the world”. The classic ruse of the hostile forces is to sow defeatism where faith and hope had reigned before.
Even so, Sri Aurobindo had no doubt that the Dawn wouldn't be delayed long:

“I know what is preparing behind the darkness and can see and feel the first signs of its coming. Those who seek for the Divine have to stand firm and persist in their seeking; after a time, the darkness will fade and begin to disappear and the Light will come.”

True enough, the 'leaders' of the country, having successfully, if also purblindly, polarised the people into suicidally aggressive attitudes, were now (most of them) only all too eager to leap into the dangled seats of power ignoring the larger interests of the country. They were tired old men, or not so old but very ambitious men, at any rate they were men seized by a sense of fatality; and they had been overtaken by events whose meaning they couldn't understand, and being both short-sighted and faint-hearted they made all kinds of noises and futile gestures. After a series of meetings with this miscellany of leaders, it became clear to Mountbatten that if Britain was to have some chance of safeguarding at least her vast commercial interests in India, she should withdraw soon after partitioning the country and handing over power to the 'two nations'. While things were still hanging in the balance, Sri Aurobindo seems to have made one more attempt through Surendra Mohan Ghose to get the Congress leaders to act on certain lines. But although some of the leaders said, "A very good thing, very good," nothing was really done - or could be done - to implement the suggestions. The leaders wouldn't follow Gandhiji's advice either and reject the Partition proposal outright. Caught in a vicious trap, partly of their own making, they were prisoners of puzzlement, and Mountbatten had his way with Jinnah and the Congress leaders alike.

On 2 June 1947, the day after the announcement regarding the Partition was made, the Mother issued a statement, with the full concurrence of Sri Aurobindo:

“A proposal has been made for the solution of our difficulties in organising Indian independence and it is being accepted with whatever bitterness of regret and searchings of the heart by Indian leaders.”

Why had Partition become necessary? Why indeed? It was because, said the Mother, of the “absurdity of our quarrels”, and only by accepting the Partition could people have a chance of living down that tragic absurdity! At the same time, the Mother added with her uncanny gift of near and far vision:

“Clearly, this is not a solution; it is a test, an ordeal which, if we live it out in all sincerity, will prove to us that it is not by cutting a country into small bits that we shall bring about its unity and its greatness; it is not by opposing interests against each other that we can win for it prosperity; it is not by setting one dogma against another that we can serve the spirit of Truth. In spite of all, India has a single soul and while we have to wait till we can speak of an India one and indivisible, our cry must be:

Let the soul of India live for ever!”

But what is meant by “the soul of India”? Has a nation - a human aggregate inhabiting a seemingly arbitrary geographical area - a soul of its own? As if answering these doubts, Nolini Kanta Gupta explained in an editorial that he wrote in August, based on one of the talks by the Mother:

“A nation is a living personality; it has a soul, even like a human individual. The soul of a nation is also a psychic being, that is to say, a conscious being, a formation out of the Divine Consciousness and in direct contact with it, a power and aspect of Mahashakti. A nation is not merely the sum total of the individuals that compose it, but a collective personality of which the individuals are as it were cells, like the cells of a living and conscious organism.”

The slothful logic of expediency, the infernal arithmetic of selfish 'party' calculations, the fear of the possible immediate danger (the eruption of a civil war) and the ignoring of the bigger danger to the national psyche and the security of the subcontinent, all had conspired to batter down Congress resistance and stampede the leaders into ignominious acquiescence. But at least, the Mother hoped and the Mother prayed, that "the soul of India" wouldn't be rent in two but would still maintain its native splendorous unity. Sri Aurobindo too, although he had perforce to accept the event, was far from satisfied. Someone asked him whether he could not have prevented the monstrous division of the country? What had happened to his Yogic Force - to the supramental action? Writing on 7 July 1947, Sri Aurobindo explained that, after all, he was using, not the infallible supramental, but only the overmental force which in its operation on individuals and human collectivities might meet with sinister resistances resulting in unforeseen distortions. And he added with a touch of wry humour:

“That is why I am getting a birthday present of a free India on August 15, but complicated by its being presented in two packets as two free Indias: this is a generosity I could have done without, one free India would have been enough for me if offered as an unbroken whole.”

(to be continued)

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

The Mother’s message to Indira Gandhi:

"Let India work for the future and set the example . Thus she will recover her true place in the world.Since long it was the habit to govern through division and opposition.The time has come to govern through union, mutual understanding and collaboration.To choose a collaborator, the value of man is more important than the party to which he belongs.The greatness of a country does not depend on the victory of a party, but on the union of all parties.”

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