Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sr Aurobindo's letter To Barin

"Let me tell you in brief one or two things about what I have long seen. My idea is that the chief cause of the weakness of India is not subjection nor poverty, nor the lack of spirituality or dharma [ethics] but the decline of thought-power, the growth of ignorance in the motherland of Knowledge. Everywhere I see inability or unwillingness to think - thought-incapacity or thought-phobia. Whatever may have been in the middle ages, this state of things is now the sign of a terrible degeneration. The middle age was the night, the time of the victory of ignorance. The modern world is the age of the victory of Knowledge. Whoever thinks most, seeks most, labors most, can fathom and learn the truth of the world, and gets so much more Shakti. If you look at Europe, you will see two things: a vast sea of thought and the play of a huge and fast-moving and yet disciplined force. The whole Shakti of Europe is in that. And in the strength of that Shakti it has been swallowing up the world, like the tapaswins [ascetics] of our ancient times, by whose power even the gods of the world were terrified, held in suspense and subjection. People say Europe is running into the jaws of destruction. I do not think so. All these revolutions and upsettings are the preconditions of a new creation.

Then look at India. Except for some solitary giants, everywhere there is your "simple man," that is, the average man who does not want to think and cannot think, who has not the least Shakti but only a temporary excitement. In India, you want the simple thought, the easy "word." In Europe they want the deep thought, the deep "word"; there even an ordinary laborer or artisan thinks, wants to know, is not satisfied with surface things but wants to go behind. But there is still this difference: there is a fatal limitation in the strength and thought of Europe. When it comes into the spiritual field, its thought-power can no longer move ahead. There Europe sees everything as riddle - nebulous metaphysics, yogic hallucination. They rub their eyes as in smoke and can see nothing clear. Still, some effort is being made in Europe to surmount even this limitation. We already have the spiritual sense - we owe it to our forefathers - and whoever has that sense has at his disposal such Knowledge and Shakti as with one breath might blow away all the huge power of Europe like a blade of grass. But to get that Shakti one must be a worshiper of Shakti. We are not worshipers of Shakti. We are worshipers of the easy way. But Shakti is not to be had by the easy way. Our forefathers dived into a sea of vast thought and gained a vast Knowledge and established a mighty civilization. As they went on in their way, fatigue and weariness came upon them. The force of thought diminished and with it also the strong current of Shakti. Our civilization has become an achalayatana [prison], our religion a bigotry of externals, our spirituality a faint glimmer of light or a momentary wave of religious intoxication. And so long as this sort of thing continues, any permanent resurgence of India is improbable

In Bengal this weakness has gone to the extreme. The Bengali has a quick intelligence, emotional capacity and intuition. He is foremost in India in all these qualities. All of them are necessary but they do not suffice. If to these there were added depth of thought, calm strength, heroic courage and a capacity for and pleasure in prolonged labor, the Bengali might be a leader not only of India, but of mankind. But he does not want that, he wants to get things done easily, to get knowledge without thinking, the fruits without labor, siddhi by an easy sadhana [discipline]. His stock is the excitement of the emotional mind..."


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