Brahmasrii Dr K C Varadachari
University men are not as a rule, at the present moment at any rate, traditionally minded except in a very superficial way. It is perhaps true to say that they are inheritors of a new tradition, a short tradition so to
speak. Perhaps it is too soon to say that the modern civilization is already a tradition to them. We must however make a sharp distinction between what we have inherited from the immediate past, and the tradition that is of ages past which is strictly religious and social tradition. The British and Islamic influences cannot be classed as tradition however much they might have influenced us and formed a behaviour-pattern which is of a mongrel character, being as yet not integral to the common people as a whole, not to speak of the advanced sections of the community. Can the University men become substitutes for the pundits of tradition? If they cannot, the leadership in adaptation to the changing shape of things will inevitably pass out of their hands. Nor will the restoration of traditional spirit be possible unless the University men can become in some plausible sense the repositories of it. The dangers of easy adaptation by some pundits to the new modern way of life cannot be exaggerated too much. The University men themselves are having a double inheritance and the alien supersedes the indigenous. Science perhaps demands outlooks in consonance with the Western patterns of thought, but does it entail also
social and spiritual atrophy and disinterest? Humanism at least could be more of the spiritual tradition of the East in every way. No one can really influence anybody unless the genuinely sincerely is loyal to the spiritual tradition of the people of this country. The case in point is Gandhiji himself. When Gandhiji adopted the way of life of the common people of this country and even their traditional spirit and approach to problems of every day, it was not only a wise way but the only way to leadership. Other examples are of Sri Aurobindo and Swami Sivananda. University men are not in a position to become leaders of the country in tradition; of course they are not yet leaders in industry, and may never be.
If University teachers should seek to wrest the spiritual leadership they should seek traditional roots. The Pundit who abides by his tradition should not merely be encouraged to play his important role but also his livelihood, economic as well as social, must be assured and ameliorated. There is a tendency to treat pundits, even as the teachers of Humanities or intellectuals as ‘lazy’ non-working or non-productive class. Only it has to be recognized and emphasized that they are preservers and transmitters of cultural
values which are much more necessary for the country and the world than economic values. Else it would be a great tragedy, for it a difficult to find a nucleus of them again. The true safety of the socialistic pattern of society on the economic level depends on the trans social life of the few individuals of tradition and of serious religious purpose. The graft of men who have hardly any roots in the tradition of the country, such as may be engendered by the exchange programmes of the immature men may lead to very undesirable results at every level of life, leading to hybridizations of culture which are unsatisfactory to everybody concerned.
A gradual process of bridging the gulf between the way of life of the traditional class and the University educated secular types has to be attempted sympathetically and reverentially. So that in the long run, at least two generations hence, the diversity of these two would not be as pronounced as it is at present.
Regarding the difficulties inherent in the geo-cultural pattern of South Indian culture communities which comprises all types of possibilities, these could
certainly be solved with understanding and patience. It should be gradual, but not necessarily snail-slow, evolution that we seek. The tempo of modern types of movements may only be quickened and sustained by an integral understanding which sees not only the pattern of culture here but also aims at integrating it with world Culture that is being born. The communal tension and racial tension problems are not inherent in the social formation as such in Society, but should rather be properly traced to the political pressure groups and to the break up of the traditional modes so called of the community. It is only remotely (and only recently) that we would trace it to the growing volume of industrialization. Due to rapid absorption of the alien model of behaviour and thought in an uncritical spirit (attractions of novelty and fashion undoubtedly playing an important role) by the large mass of educated men and University products too (and teachers are by no means an exception to this), it has meant an uncritical sacrifice of ancient patterns of value and culture. The fact that these acceptance of Western and alien modes have been popularized in indigenous languages (regional and other languages) has not reduced but
rather has increased the difficulties of real integration of social life on the best possible lines. It has created conflicts of an altogether irrational nature in the large mass of uneducated men or partially educated men, who are workers in the several fields of social life.
The changeover from rural economy and civilization to an urban industrial civilization in Britain and America did not mean the breakup of the religious and social traditions as such or a breakaway from them. The so called socializing process has not entailed the breakup of the traditional spirit of society. Industrial civilization goes along with a certain amount of socialization of the individual and his knowledge, but beyond a point it is bound to be not only difficult and undesirable but also to be resisted.
It must be recognized that though religion is a socializing force, it aims at the trans-social life of the individual. Society must constantly serve and help this trans-social existence and life of all its members if it wills to retain their social loyalties. If tradition stands for anything in a religious society it is for this goal. Humanistic aims try to contain the individual within the
purely socialistic patterns of life, for in its conception the individual is obviously to realize that social life is his goal and without it he is nothing and ought to be nothing. But this is a short-sighted view. The modern ideal of socializing the property and work of man at first and finally man himself completely can obviously not succeed. Sooner or later the inner urge in man for his trans-social life (though not his individual life) and values would assert themselves. And is it not better to guide and plan in such a way that the socializing process would be through out guided by the trans-social way of life (which is the traditional spiritual way)? Should we not realize before it is too late that the ideals by which revolutions are being made are not hugged in a spirit of abstraction and extremism? Are we aiming at Society or Socialism, which I submit are two different things? There can be no antagonism between spirituality and industrialism provided we carefully reorganize our social and political and individual life on the basis of spiritual freedom and social conformity which only an organic conception can provide at least as working principle (and not as met-physical theory). This has been achieved in a spirit of cooperation in
regard to the reorganization of village and cottage industries, which avoids the evils of industrial concentration and robotisation.
Therefore our present challenge lies in the complexity that has arisen in the traditional life of the different classes of the community. Firstly there has happened the collapse of the traditional social patterns. An apathy to the ancient forms of worship and moral restraints has also become the feature of worship and moral restraints has also become the feature of the people. The earlier subjugation by foreign rule has made the situation worse. This has however rendered adaptation to industrial (unspiritual?) modes of life easy. But moral and religious restraints have surely suffered a severe setback. This is the most dangerous feature of the modern situation. One important problem awaiting solution is how to restore confidence in moral standards and religious values. Leadership certainly is needed to get the moral and traditional values accepted by the large part of the industrially employed and minded. Social changes of a far reaching nature have been legislatively undertaken, and these have been sought to be explained not so much as a restoration of the
ancient Vedic way of flexible social existence as the answer to the demands of modern conditions (a pragmatic social theory at best). It tends to forget that history in eradicable so easily or so absolutely. We cannot skip over all that has transpired in our evolution; (historical realism may well be called for: revolutionary thought need not mean revolutionary practice or adoption of revolutionary means). A fundamental condition of real and integral revolution or evolution in the spiritual (traditional) way depends on the firm bases of moral and spiritual life in the member of the teaching class from the lowest to the highest. A firm insistence on the basic moral and spiritual values would help both the teacher and the taught to have faith in the trans-social goal of society. An equally clear understanding of the trends of home and social life would effectively help the individual thinking based on the universal concept of human dignity and unity in all walks of life. There is needed a reverence for intellectual attainments on the part of the public which is essential for social transformation. A public that is fascinated by other faculties than the intellect and has no reverence for moral principles, is almost half way down and lets down
values that count. The strict moral approbation of values that count for pure and honest living, and disapprobation uniformly and consistently of all those that contravene such trans-social and spiritual values, seem to be called for. Practiced with scrupulousness, earnestness and faith, by the educational institutions and the government from the very bottom to the top (as in ancient traditions both in India and in Plato), it is likely that the traditional spirit will grow into the life of the industrialised community and be its living soul.
OMNIPERVASIVENESS OF GOD
GOD is more than man and the world. He is beyond the relative terms of our existence. He is above the world and its vicissitudes and evolutionary processes. His will omnipotent has brought into being all creatures and things. As the Ultimate cause of all, He is untouched by the imperfections of the world and the souls, by their changes and their sorrows. Having created the world He governs it by His law immutably and ruthlessly. But being essentially good the reign of God is good and righteous. The world in which we dwell is the best possible of all worlds. Browning described such a God in the line
“God’s in his heaven –
All’s right with the world!”
God is God because He is transcendent to the world, uniquely different from the world and the souls.
Mystics and Rishis however knew of another aspect of God. God, though undoubtedly transcendent in the sense of being the Creator and Ruler, is also immanent in the creation. He could be realized not merely as the law immanent in Nature and in oneself but also as present within each and everything. The world and the souls are not naturally acting according to an original law conferred on them and thus mechanically going round their functions, but are being constantly impelled from within. This impulsion from within in each is the cause of progress that we observe in each soul. Every soul aspires to be greater than what it is. The cause of this aspiration is God within who impels every soul to great endeavour, and this is the urge within Evolution. God is the self of all beings, seated within the heart of each soul, who could be realized if only one yearns for Him, opens out to Him, loves Him with all one’s being and dedicates oneself to His service. God can be loved, known and entered into through devotion. Religion includes this immanent realization of God, this knowledge of the fullness of God in His creation – sarvam vishnumayam jagat.
The Chandogyopanishad expresses this in the passage: Sarvam khalvidam Brahma: All this is verily Brahman. The Bhagavad Gita proclaims this as the acme of jnana, to know all this to be Vasudeva: Vasudevassarvam iti. Vasudeva is the Self of the world and all, and all these are His body (sarira).
The Isavasyopanishad varies this instruction to suit the realization of God within oneself and all by the seeker, who is ignorant of this saving truth. He has to realize the presence of God within himself. He must strive to bring down the presence of the Transcendent God into each. The Rishi declares that it could be done, for all things moving and unmoving can become fit for the indwelling of the Lord: Isavasyam idam sarvam yat kinca jagatyam jagat. This realization of the possibility of God indwelling actually in each individual makes the meaning of God-filling each, satisfying. It is not merely the immanence of the Law of God, of His original fiat in things, but the realization of the actual residence within oneself as Self and Soul, atman, that makes religion meaningful to man. Else a rational naturalism would be sufficient for man.
Hinduism has given several names to God; each name reveals a particular aspect of His unique and eternal Nature. Three popular names however have survived among us, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, answering to the logical existential, the volitional, ethical, and the aesthetic affective ultimate aspect or modes of the One supreme God. Vishnu brings out the aspect of Brahman’s personality as the Regnum or Sovereign-principle, who is the Upholder of both the Outer law of Nature and the inner law of the souls. As the name signifies, He is the pervader or omnipervasive Spirit capable of indwelling all creation; He confers and maintains the reign of Dharma and harmony in and through the evolutionary process. As immanent in the process He is eternally actively liberating the souls by making them conscious of their ultimate Destiny in the world and beyond. As the avatar He uplifts and establishes the reign of dharma, by liberating dharma, in various ways.
Each soul has a dual responsibility, of realizing God within itself as its Self and of regarding Him in others. Thus each individual becomes the body of God,
a temple of His presence. This is the realization of God as all this, as filling all this without remainder.
This experience is a transcendent one got through the grace of God but earned through devotion, and selfless dedication to one’s inner nature (svadharma) as the body of God, and by intelligent performance of one’s duty by one’s station in the cosmic and social scheme.
HUMOUR IN PHILOSOPHY
The attempt to make what is serious business something that is not serious or at least something that need not be taken seriously, at the beginning at any rate, is rather doubtful of success. But Philosophy is neither so serious as it is sought to be made out nor so trivial as any attempt at cheap teaching of it may make it. I am therefore to explain this difficult situation which is indeed humorous. Humour is precisely the situation which to an observer appears to be nonsensical, ridiculous but to the subject absolutely serious. A philosopher accordingly appears to many as a figure that is cut out for humorous reference. He has been included under a general class comprising poets and fools. But there surely is a difference. A philosopher not only looks at things but also at himself and looks at others from their own points of view as also looks at himself from others points of view. A poet may do this imaginatively, a fool rather inconsistently, but a
philosopher does this systematically and hopes to be able to ascend back to the height. He appears to revel in paradoxes, and paradox is the soul of wit, but these paradoxes may puzzle the uninitiated, appear as just play of words, and pose. A comic philosopher may thus enjoy himself in this constant exercise of logical subtleties. I have seen people amused at the very important question ‘what supports which – the ghee the vessel or the vessel the ghee?’ This humour is often interesting and yet serious. Behind every paradox and behind every view there lurks problem which could be approached with the attitude of a seeker after truth. Every humorous situation has a serious purpose – the Discovery of Truth.
Similarly every serious occasion has a humorous side, the human side. Therefore is it possible to approach the problems of Philosophy from the more human and humorous side and reveal the nearness on the problems which the more serious minded men have made remote and abstract. That is being done in literature and in arts. Socrates had shewn the vast problems of truth to lie near our very door through his dialectical questioning and jest cleverly turned to yield a
sense of humour in the audience. The exploitation of the dialectical method and mythology in the teaching of Philosophy is undoubtedly a necessity for it makes the teaching of Philosophy homely, suggestive and lively. The secret of Ancient Hindu thought lies in this essential homeliness of its understanding even when soaring into the realms of highest fancy.
The modern age has many novel features. It breaths the air of freedom and propagates the cult of liberty and egalitarianism. The freedom from limitations of space and time and want are all worthy features of our age. With this growth of the sense of freedom it has also devised the significant apparatuses of reason, rationalism and rationalization which are said to be adequate means for the attainment of such worthy ends. All these have become commonplace opinions if not sentiments of the ordinary citizen, since science has promised and achieved tremendous spectacular successes. The humanities such as the study of thought and activities of human individuals had in singular contrast not offered any such freedom from limitations. On the other hand with their emphasis on rightness and law, the humanities have laid limitations
on the freedom that can be won in the fields of science. Humour has apparently nothing to do with this aspect of the interestingness of the humanities or of science for the matter of that. The real humour, rather grim indeed, lies in the fact that searching for freedom from limitations of space and time, man has become a creature of want and wealth, desire and comfort; and the joy that came with the opening of the Pandora’s box has been smothered by the cry of anguish at letting loose the Furies. So much so we have begun to ask whether freedom can be won at all and if won whether it is worthwhile. Just as the facts of science are limitations on theory, so too human nature and ideals have been limitations on theory, so too human nature and ideals have been limitations on human conduct. Striving for freedom paradoxically means getting bondage and the philosopher suggests whether striving for bondage man cannot become free. It is precisely the discovery of the limitations of science and philosophy that gives a sense of humour which is the knowledge of the unpredictable and chance in human affairs, what Hindu thought designates by the term daivam – the transcendental.
The everyday man somehow does not like seriousness. He would like to take a holiday from hard thought and consistent conduct. There is however a delight that could be extracted from the study of such men. Even today men ask the same questions that men two or three thousand years ago had asked. Even today the same answers are being given with but such changes of language or variations of jargon adapted to the audience trained in different modes of thought. The climate of opinion and fashion has changed only the form and not the substance of either the questions or their answers. For example, in ethics the question is asked why a man should speak truth and not a lie. Obviously because a lie cannot be made universal conduct. A lie works only as long as all others are truthful or honest. The old story of deceit practiced by some merchants of a town to worship God with milk taking water instead deeming that others would bring milk and so their deceit would not get detected, is a story of teaching this by humour. So too with all vice. This approach of showing up the ridiculousness of incorrectness with living examples is an instance or humour teaching truths.
Or let us take another example. It must be confessed that the one freedom that the modern mind has secured for itself with such violence, propaganda and war for liberty, equality and fraternity is the freedom from thinking on things that matter. The modern Age of Reason is governed by mobilized opinion; and opinion is never a sure guide to good life or thought. The ancient parable of an old man, his son and the donkey shews with peculiar flavour the humour of the situation. Common man – alas he is a fiction – is governed or rather tossed by a multitude of cross opinions albeit apparently helpful. In philosophy this illustrates the danger of accepting opinions however well-intentioned. If opinion is to be accepted it must have to be well attested and dependent upon the character and equipment and intelligence of the attestor. This is the meaning of aptavacana. How much depends upon the informant’s character is illustrated by such humorous episodes found in any number in the Panchatantra which is glorified as a book of wisdom both philosophical and practical.
Or again take the problem of knowledge when approached from the point of view of ordinary
sensations. We are all subject to illusions; we see a post and mistake it for a man; we see mirage in a desert or an asphalted road; a rope is mistaken for a snake; we see the whirling fire-brand as a circle; an oar dipped in water appears bent and so on. All these are capable of making men behave ridiculously and have formed subject-matter of jests. Perverted minds have perverted visions and perceptions. This truth has with classic perfection been presented with grim humour by the great Vyasa in the Sabha-parva of the Mahabharata – the poor perverted ones like Duryodhana fell into illusions the most humorous. Bilvamangal who caught hold of a huge python mistaking it for a rope suspended by his thoughtful beloved and ascended to the terrace of her house is indeed a humorous situation. Infatuation has no eyes. But what underlies this illusion? The discovery of the laws of Matter gives a heightened interest to this undependability of the senses and perhaps yields a new field for creative minds for creating illusions as modern Cinematography is doing. And yet when some philosophers declare that all sense-reports are illusion and maya due to ignorance that is an occasion for showing that
generalizations of thought on the basis of a few instances are erroneous and fruitful sources of humour. Just as a partial truth can be source of error, a partial untruth can be a source of truth.
All this shows that living approach to the ever-renewing problems of Philosophy that willy nilly affect all minds is a necessity. They are not always amenable to solutions from any single point of view. It is the essential quality of a humorous approach to look at things upside down or downside up. Either men must think so or imaginatively create or construct this situation. This the philosopher has made into a perfect technique and shares the purpose of the humorist. G.K. Chesterton had made this technique a perpetual enlivener of his paradoxes in his essays and stories; to many they appear humorous and ingenious if not silly, but to him it was the most arresting and direct way of presenting high seriousness in comic from, and through this comic form teach the high seriousness of philosophical wisdom. Shaw once remarked that one of the most humorous facts about the Soviet Philosophers or Dictators is their lack of humour or rather the habitual pose of high seriousness. Ancient wisdom however
delighted in the exploitation of paradoxes and in the lightness of humour that reveals the colours and contrasts and objective reactions of the observers. It combined this with subjective seriousness in the pursuit after total comprehension. This double view gave Indian Philosophy its concept of Lila, which is neither mere illusion nor meaningless play but an essential quality of self-revelation, self-power and self-illumination in terms of opposites and contrasts which need each other for a perennial that it almost left this lightness of vision of contrasts poets and psychologists. Much of the despair and fright caused by modern academic philosophers is certainly due to their abstract idealism and pursuit of abstract consistency which humorously or paradoxically enough betrays inconsistencies and straight-jacketedness of which they are sublimely unaware. It is again the failure of some philosophers to arrive at the peak of sympathetic intuition or awareness of other aspects that makes them either extremely forbiddingly serious or sceptics and doubters. But scepticism when it is seen to be humour turn-serious half-way, becomes a living avenue to truth. What is needed is the artist’s touch that makes
doubt and scepticism living and dynamic attractions to the soul yearning for infinite comprehension.
A dynamic return to the problems of philosophy then can be undertaken since they are not foreign to the life of the ordinary man. He indeed confronts them but is lost in the confusion of its contrasts and contradictions, and variations. These can be shewn to be the sources of humour and with when men are unable to adapt themselves to them. The philosopher does not stop at the affective result of humour but goes boldly forward exploring the possibility of their wherefores and whys. If men even young can be made to be interested in the growth of a flower, the hoots of an owl and the movements of bats, and if the greatest attempts in history have to do with the growth or individuals and groups, Philosophy then can be shown to be the human interest in the multiple-sidedness of experience. Taught in the language of unsophisticated human experience, Philosophy will always have an abiding quality of interest underlining science and art, for it is their synthesis and culmination.
ANCIENT HINDU THOUGHT AND MODERN MOVEMENTS
The contributions made by ancient Hindu thought during the past century and a half have been considerable both in respect of quantity and quality. In one sense this is due to the impact of western modes of approach to the problems of life based on not so much an occidental philosophy but on the Christian conception of God’s relationship to man and creation. Though commerce was the first among the multiple character of the impact it was followed by conquest as a result of the discovery of the weakness of the Hindu structure already under disintegration thanks to the sapping of its social strength by the Islamic hybridization of life, language and culture. An extraordinary development quiet in keeping with the conquest formula came in the field of indological studies. Eminent and even good and great scholars of Britain and Germany and in a lesser degree in other lands began to discover close interrelationships in languages that apparently belonged to the different
racial groups even. The interpretation to the west of the nature of the religious patterns of culture in the East as also the need to carry on the evangelical work of Christianising the east forced this development. The missionaries set to work on this dual role of messengers of the west to the east and of the east to the west. Thus it became very evident that religion from the west, like its more energetic predecessor was evangelical and proselytizing. The threat to Hindu culture and custom had become real. It was all the more necessary to meet this apparent menace. In the meantime, the young and the youthful minds of the east had become admirers of the novel western pattern, for more reasons than one: economical, psychological and social. Rulers got admirers and willing servants. English literature being the royal language became the language of the ‘cultured’ even as Persian fulfilled the role earlier.
It is in this historical perspective we have to consider the advances and studies made in Indological thought in this country. He indeed becomes a great man who could seize the opportunity to work for the reconciliation or adaptation of the western to eastern
conditions. That this was indeed the tendency to zeit geist was apparent to anybody who was even normally aware of the times India was passing through. The synthesis if it could be had, a compromise if the former could not be had became inevitable.
The problem of the modern world was thus directly faced by the adoption of the adaptational theory of survival. Wedded to the Indian cultural consciousness the leading thinkers of India began to delve into the scriptural past, of the dateless Vedas and the Upanishads and the Brahmanas, and the tantras, so as to discover anticipations of the modern theories in theology, philosophy, sciences and history. It is of course a natural psychological reaction to the west: and in so far as it was accepted and followed up with the faith it could make for Hindu survival it was all to the good. The linking of the present with the elemental primal past restored not merely dignity to the Indian thought and nature but also integrated it with its natural roots. An uprooted race was no more to be thought of.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the founder of Brahmoism aimed at the reformation of Hindu life in
pursuance of this aim of adaptation to the modern world. The synthesis was to be between the intellectual highest of the Upanishads and the Western Christian methods of religious life. The result was not a revolt but a reformation of the spirit of Hindu life in terms of upanishadic Brahmanic thought. It meant in one sense the discarding the large mass of ritualistic observances of the grand social ramifications of popular Hindu religion as found in the traditional setups of caste and marriage. This tendency was undoubtedly facilitated by the resurrection of the opposition between jnana and karma kandas of the Veda counselled by the great Advaita teachers like Sankaracharya, but amplifying the connotation of karma to include all observances not merely Vedic ritual. The jnana kanda so to speak of the ancients was sought to be reconciled with the karmakanda of the christian civilization. This is the incarnation of the eastern soul in the western body. Though it can be said that it proved to be a failure then, the more we see it now it seems to have been quite a success especially after the period of national struggle was over and the demand for the one world has become quite vocal and vociferous. It is a bold
experiment. But at that time it moved none deeply. The emotional quality of the western body was unsuited to the eastern genius. It proved to be barren too.
A deep foundational or elemental quality of creativity had to be found. In the Advaita Vedanta and Tantra was found the possibility of such a creative foundation. Swami Vivekananda, the illustrious disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, whilst rejecting the social and sartorial adaptations of the west welcomed the daring scientific progress of the west which he wished to yoke to the Vedanta tantra of the east. The integration of Vedanta with science was facilitated very much for there was the same urge towards egalitarianism, political as well as economic, which was sustained by the intellectual monistic conception. The recognition of the individuals dignity and value, even in an ultimate sense as the pluralists hold, was assured but modified by the concept of the One Universal Spirit embracing and maintaining each in his own individuality – value. It is to this general line of development again we should turn to find the place of Mahatma Gandhi who turned to the Bhagavad Gita and the Isavasyopanishad to build the most epoch making
conception of a spiritual world order based on peace, and fostered and sustained by the ethical idealism of non violence and truth. We can obviously see that this is the greatest flower of the Age. A definite challenge to the Western concepts of materialistic democracy and mechanisation of production was thus delivered. A new world based on non-violence and truth was not merely conceived but shown to be possible. The discovery of the dynamism of non-violent truth is the greatest single contribution made by Mahatma Gandhi to world civilization.
Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s Arya Samaj was another major movement during the period. His was a more restricted endeavour. The monism of the Vedanta was to be subplanted by the monotheism of the Vedas. The hymns indeed already declare the source of polytheism lies in the monotheistic conception for the many powers of the One supreme appear really as many gods and goddesses. This defensive reaction against an arid and barren intellectual synthesis is not suited to the genius of Hinduism which ‘rather strangely’ entertains the many and the one in an inseparable unity – many are indeed the One and the One indeed is the
many. This may conceivably be trans-intellectual intuition, but this is the basis of the Vedic Hymns and the seers of the Veda. The strenuous efforts to bring back to the western educated the meaning and the message of the Hymnal literature were matched only by the scholarship of the great savant. The Hindu considers the Veda to be ‘The Knowledge’ not merely the beginnings of knowledge as the western savants were trying to make out. Truth that is universal is the content of the Veda. In another sense Arya Samaj was a reaction against Brahmoism in so far as it went to a deeper level of unity than the merely intellectual abstractions and universals.
It must be remembered that about this same period a world wide movement was inaugurated by Theosophic leaders – namely Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olcott, which felt in Aryanism the possible branch of that universal movement in India. It proved an abortive attempt. But we know the theosophy tried to bring about a splendid synthesis between the ethos and cultures of the several races and religions and though it has at the beginning resulted in a loose syncretism it had begun gradually arriving at a broad cultural
harmony between the several branches of the human race. Hindu thought received a cordial reception in foreign lands. We know that the writings of the some of the most famous writers in the west had taken sincerest interest in the cultural traditions of the east and especially of India, and their numbers are increasing every day. The restoration of the mystical tradition to its true universal character owes not a little to the theosophic movement.
Western mystical tradition yearns after the same goal as the Eastern. But the diversity of traditional currents and usages, due obviously to the different kinds of challenges met with in the different parts of the globe, have kept them apart and prevented their being unified or becoming organic or complementary to each other. But it is not so much the integration of these two mystical traditions that is now a serious matter but the reconciliation of the organic growth of the world cultural unity which would embrace the east and the west. A deeper and more penetrating basis of spiritual unity has to be found at the back of the intellectual and the mythical-mystical uniformities or universals (the latter of which is found explained only on the basis of the
universal unconscious). Inevitably the one world concept has to be understood either as the recognition of the intellectual monistic possibility or the expression of a deeper passion integral to some deep layer of human consciousness sustaining and supporting the racial divergences. Further it has now profounded a new dialectic, the dialectic of materialism and spiritualism. This is but the recurrence of the old dualism of Samkhyan metaphysics. But this dualism was resolved by Vedanta by making God the master of both the material and spiritual pluralities and conferring on both the unity of organic integration. But this lived in a precarious conception of marriage between matter and spirit under the ordinance of the Supreme Spirit such as karma and so on. Sri Aurobindo, who voices the return to the Vedic Hymns and the Brahmanas in their adhyatmika conception and interpretation only, offers a reconciliation, the most ambitious on record, between the two sets of categories of matter and spirit, unity and plurality, being and non-being, life and death, change and permanence, personality and impersonality, ignorance and knowledge, mortality and immortality and so on. So long as the individual is under
the thraldom of matter and ignorance, the struggle between the two forces (or pluralities) of the Spirit would prevail. The transcendence over the ignorance by a direct revelation of the Transcendent by an Act of Grace would restore to both reality and truth. Matter then, would become real to spirit and spirit become real to matter. Matter will become to be recognised as really a power of Brahman and the spirit or soul would be recognised as equally a power of Brahman in evolutionary lines of progressive integration rather than an illusory involvement or real involvement to which it was condemned by Vedantas. All then would be realised as the illimitable Saccidananda. The above account is an over-simplification of the Aurobindonian theory but in a brief article such as the present one it could not but be put and especially in the single perspective, adopted here.
Om Tat Sat