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At the Feet of The Mother

Ram Mandir: A Civilisational Crossroads | 1. India of the Ages

‘India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and  the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat  the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still  the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards  the supreme source  of light and strength and turning to discover  the complete meaning and a vaster form  of her Dharma.’ [Sri Aurobindo, CWSA 20:444]

India of the Ages has come a long way in its civilisational journey.  In the course of its unique history she has witnessed peaks of spiritual and material achievements as well as descents into darkness whence she was robbed of her material wealth and impoverished of her high and wide spiritual thought that once made her guru of the world.  Layers after layers of civilisational experience gathered through a long spiritual evolution, internal revolutions as well as multiple invasions has made the India a very complex nation to understand and reckon with. The gain of all these internal turmoils as well as external onslaughts has made India and the Indian people extremely resilient with an innate capacity to adapt, adjust, change and progress in keeping with the needs of the moment and the demand of the Age. On the other hand it has posed the challenge of defining and preserving its unique national identity. India is one and yet many in its endless variety of people and languages and customs and traditions and layers of humanity mixing and mingling into several groups and sub groups, its multiple approaches to God that have cradled, nurtured, nourished many indigenous as well as religions that sprang from alien soil, her numerous sects and cults like her many rivers and mountains girdling her variegated body. India is a world in its own right or rather worlds within worlds whose richness cannot be explored, let alone be understood. And yet a secret thread runs through it all binding together all the different varieties of flowers in a single sheath.  This secret thread that holds this endless variety together is not religion or ideology,  neither politics nor culture but the innate spirituality of India that runs as a stream of spiritual energy from East to West, North to South. 

‘Spirituality is indeed the master-key of the Indian mind; the sense of the infinite is native to it. India saw from the beginning,—and, even in her ages of reason and her age of increasing ignorance, she never lost hold of the insight,—that life cannot be rightly seen in the sole light, cannot be perfectly lived in the sole power of its externalities. She was alive to the greatness of material laws and forces; she had a keen eye for the importance of the physical sciences; she knew how to organise the arts of ordinary life. But she saw that the physical does not get its full sense until it stands in right relation to the supra-physical; she saw that the complexity of the universe could not be explained in the present terms of man or seen by his superficial sight, that there were other powers behind, other powers within man himself of which he is normally unaware, that he is conscious only of a small part of himself, that the invisible always surrounds the visible, the suprasensible the sensible, even as infinity always surrounds the finite. She saw too that man has the power of exceeding himself, of becoming himself more entirely and profoundly than he is,—truths which have only recently begun to be seen in Europe and seem even now too great for its common intelligence. She saw the myriad gods beyond man, God beyond the gods, and beyond God his own ineffable eternity; she saw that there were ranges of life beyond our life, ranges of mind beyond our present mind and above these she saw the splendours of the spirit. Then with that calm audacity of her intuition which knew no fear or littleness and shrank from no act whether of spiritual or intellectual, ethical or vital courage, she declared that there was none of these things which man could not attain if he trained his will and knowledge; he could conquer these ranges of mind, become the spirit, become a god, become one with God, become the ineffable Brahman. And with the logical practicality and sense of science and organised method which distinguished her mentality, she set forth immediately to find out the way. Hence from long ages of this insight and practice there was ingrained in her her spirituality, her powerful psychic tendency, her great yearning to grapple with the infinite and possess it, her ineradicable religious sense, her idealism, her Yoga, the constant turn of her art and her philosophy.

But this was not and could not be her whole mentality, her entire spirit; spirituality itself does not flourish on earth in the void, even as our mountaintops do not rise like those of an enchantment of dream out of the clouds without a base. When we look at the past of India, what strikes us next is her stupendous vitality, her inexhaustible power of life and joy of life, her almost unimaginably prolific creativeness.’ [CWSA 20:6-7]

But from time to time this accumulated spiritual energy takes a new unexpected turn. It is like a new dawn arising out of the womb of a prolonged night.  While the new dawn is a continuation of the previous dawns and yet it is a new dawn with new possibilities,  a new step forward. Such a moment seems to have arrived for India as it reconnects to its spiritual thread running as an undercurrent and bring it forward into the mainstream of Indian life. 

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