Understanding Bharat in the Light of Sanatana Dharma

Whether we were born here or not, Bharat is an opportunity for all of humanity to witness through this civilization, how the ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ has the potential to beautifully integrate. Not because of concocted beliefs or some selfish desires of a group of exclusive people, but because of the universal movement of Life itself – through Sanatana Dharma. …We stand at an auspicious juncture as we correct narratives and understandings and move from ‘mythology’ to history, ‘religion’ to dharma, lies to the uncovering of truth.

Where Science and Metaphysics Fall Short

Sri Aurobindo’s words on the limitations of science and metaphysics in explaining the world. As he writes, “Metaphysics seeks to tell us What the Universe is and Why it is; in other words to explain the Inexplicable; but the end of this process is inevitably a juggling with words which must repel all clear-minded thinkers”. The approach of Hinduism is altogether different.

Ingredients of Myth-Making

Ganesh Varadharajan explores what makes a work an ‘epic’. Using as examples, Tolkien’s ‘Legendarium’ and Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’, Ganesh brings out the different textures of the fantasy worlds created by the novelists. Referencing back to the great epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Savitri’ as well as the Greek epics and the works of Shakespeare, gives an insight into the world of legend, myth and fantasy.

Guru’s Words on ‘Guruvada’ – Part I

“I had the same kind of violent objection to Gurugiri, but you see I was obliged by the irony of things or rather by the inexorable truth behind them to become a Guru and preach the Guruvada.” – Sri Aurobindo
What is a Guru? In light of current events, it appears Indians desperately need to dig deeper into their spiritual traditions to understand this. Beloo Mehra’s insightful exposition drawing on the insights and wisdom of Sri Aurobindo makes for a must-read in this regard.

Primal Divergence : A Contrast of Cultures (Part-2)

Part 2 of the series in which Ganesh Varadharajan​ explores the limitations of modern science that follows in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks and is not able to grasp the evolution of successive conditions of energy as expounded in Indian thought systems like the Sankhya philosophy.
Western pop culture portrays the next stage in the evolution of man as a brutish being, with the idea of beauty of form as emphasised by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, being completely disregarded.

Primal Divergence : A Contrast of Cultures (Part-1)

Ganesh Varadharajan explores the divergence between the East and West, essentially between Vedanta and Greek thought in the understanding of man and his relationship with the Divine. Setting side-by-side, examples from modern pop culture like Hollywood and the deep spiritual insights as articulated by Sri Aurobindo, makes for an interesting analysis of the diverging world and life views.

India’s Struggle for Freedom and the Voice of God – Sri Aurobindo’s Speech

Sri Aurobindo played a crucial role in India’s freedom movement by raising the national consciousness. In this speech at Uttarpara in West Bengal, he talked about his communion with God during a jail sentence he served during the freedom struggle. The speech describes his realisation that nationalism had a spiritual purpose in India. It provides the context for Sri Aurobindo’s vision of raising India to raise Sanatana Dharma.

Be Simple

“One must be spontaneous in order to be divine.
One must be perfectly simple in order to be spontaneous.
One must be absolutely sincere in order to be perfectly simple.
To be absolutely sincere is not to have any division, any contradiction in one’s being.”

A View from the Window and the Harmony of Spaces

It was not the first time I saw this view of my small garden in the back of the house. I see it daily, both when I am out in the garden and when I sit at my desk. But that day was special.

It was special because that moment brought a sense of deep quiet and peace within as I let that view sink in to me. There were a few small birds flying around the champa trees and the bushes nearby, making lovely sounds, calling each other, playing, resting on the thin branches, enjoying their freedom.

I sat there, in my chair; just sat there. For several minutes. Taking in the view, enjoying the sounds of the birds, the peace of it all.

I don’t know for sure or perhaps I am unable to fully express what I was feeling in those moments. Perhaps it was some type of peace, a sense of harmony. Perhaps it was one of those moments when everything feels perfect, everything around you, everything within you, everything is just the way as it should be. There is no need to fuss over anything, no need to shift anything. As if there is nothing to disturb this moment, this sense of peace.

Have you ever felt that? Surely, you must have. We must thank all the gods for such moments, rare as they are in the noisy worlds we live in – within and without.

A few minutes later, a part of me wanted to go out in the garden and take pictures of the view. Even thought of taking the pictures of the birds who were still playing and singing. How foolish of me, I immediately said to myself. As if pictures would preserve the ‘feel’ of the moment for me.

Still I could not resist taking one shot on my phone, from this side of the window. The one you see above.

The moment passed. Only to be followed by another moment, of a reflection. Reflection on spaces and harmony. And on art.

Today, a few days later, as I sit by the same window, trying to give voice to that reflection I see the same tree and the same bushes, though there are no birds at the moment, I try to recall to my awareness that moment of quiet and peace from the other day.

Maybe writing out this reflection on spaces and harmony will bring its own harmony. After all, minds are spaces too, and creating a sense of harmony in our mental spaces is an art, a very important art that we all have to learn one way or the other if we want to experience more of these moments of peace and quietude.

So I begin.

You walk into a space — a home, a room, a garden, a temple, an ashram, a workplace or any other public place — and you instantly, spontaneously feel a sense of all-pervading harmony, a quiet ambience, an effortless beauty. Nothing is amiss, everything is perfectly placed where it should be. Nothing is obtrusive, nothing is jarring, everything is quietly at home in its natural place.

You walk into another space and instantly you feel that something isn’t right. There is a sense of disorder, an artificiality to the whole arrangement of the space, a feel of uncomfortable ugliness despite the outward prettiness and ‘designer-like’ placement of objects.

You must have experienced this, haven’t you? I surely have. Many times.

In fact, I have experienced this sense of harmony (or disharmony) even in empty spaces. For example, a few years ago when we were looking for a house to purchase, many times we would walk into an empty house for sale and just upon entering the house I would immediately ‘know’ whether or not I would even consider the house any further. Spaces, even empty spaces have their auras, sort of like an energy around them.

Personally speaking, how I feel in a particular space generally figures as one of the main criteria for deciding how much time I want to spend there. This could be a richly decorated home of a relative or a humble half-demolished temple in a village I am only visiting for an afternoon. I have experienced a discomforting sense of disharmony at a five-star hotel and felt a deeply calming sense of joy at an almost decrepit building that serves as a guest house.

This feeling or perception of order or disorder, a sense of harmony or chaos, is not about the physical appearance — the size of the space, the form, placement and outer charm and prettiness of objects or furniture in the space — though these things may be part of it. But only a very small part. The bigger part is about what the space makes one feel inwardly.

What is it that makes one space feel harmoniously beautiful, even though it may be very simply arranged with most inexpensive objects? And what makes another space, sometimes even the best-designed space, furnished with most expensive ‘designer’ furniture and object d’art, feel jarring, out of order almost?

Is it the aura of the person who lives, works, moves in the space? Or the aura of the person who looks after the space, its cleaning, upkeep, etc? Is it something about the way in which things are arranged in the space? Or the consciousness of the space itself, the consciousness hidden in everything that is there in the space?

Or is it the state of the mind of the person walking into the space? The sense of harmony he or she brings to the space?

It is perhaps everything, each of these things. And more.

It takes an artist to make a space harmoniously beautiful.

“If you ask me, I believe that all those who produce something artistic are artists! A word depends upon the way it is used, upon what one puts into it. One may put into it all that one wants. For instance, in Japan there are gardeners who spend their time correcting the forms of trees so that in the landscape they make a beautiful picture. By all kinds of trimmings, props, etc. they adjust the forms of trees. They give them special forms so that each form may be just what is needed in the landscape. A tree is planted in a garden at the spot where it is needed and moreover, it is given the form that’s required for it to go well with the whole set-up. And they succeed in doing wonderful things. You have but to take a photograph of the garden, it is a real picture, it is so good. Well, I certainly call the man an artist. One may call him a gardener but he is an artist….

“All those who have a sure and developed sense of harmony in all its forms, and the harmony of all the forms among themselves, are necessarily artists, whatever may be the type of their production.” 

 – The Mother, CWM, Vol 8, p. 324 (emphasis added)

It perhaps takes an artist to ‘know’ a space. To feel a space. To experience the harmony.

But what is this sense of harmony? Can it only be felt? Can we grow in our sense of harmony? Of perceiving? Of creating harmony? In our spaces, outer and inner?

Maybe in some other moment of grace, sitting by the window in front of the garden view, when my mind is in a state of harmony I shall be blessed with an insight into some of these questions.

The article was first published on the author’s blog and later contributed to LWP.

See also: Remembering Annapurna

Details of the Infinite

by Beloo Mehra

 

The intricately carved pillars lead you into the chamber of Beauty and Divinity. Beauty in Divinity; Divinity in Beauty.

 

 

Your eyes want to linger on the details of the pillars, take in every piece of carving and beauty. At the same time the inner quietude pulls you in.

 

 

Your footsteps slowly take you in, quietly, with a sense of awe and quiet anticipation. No rush, no hurrying through, you just walk through the space slowly, purposefully or with no purpose at all but just to experience the majesty and glory that is all around you.

 

 

Or you don’t walk at all. You just stand still. Quietly, in silence, you just stay there. For as long as you must. For as long as you hear the poetry of those stones, the music in that silent space.

The experience is not merely an aesthetic one, for that would last only as long as you are in the physical presence of the art. This is also not only your mind’s or heart’s journey back into the glorious past of India of thousands of years ago when thousands of Sun-worshippers would have gathered in this temple dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God.

This is more than that.

This is a journey within. A journey into the chambers of the inner you where you want the Light of the Sun God to shine, into all those corners from where you want those pesky little darknesses to be gone. A journey that gradually leads you to a bright and vast openness, that makes you, the inner you, more receptive to the new Light that must fill those spaces within.

 

 

It is in this aspiration and appeal to the Infinite that all details find their rightful place and purpose. You begin to know intuitively why and how the detailed abundance of the majestically carved pillars and the intricately elaborate gateway are steps to experiencing the sublime beauty of the divinity within, and also the divinity of beauty within.

A certain type of critical mind, which often fails to see the inner significance of what the outer eye meets, looks at the profusion of artistic detail on the ancient Indian temple walls, gateways and pillars, on the hallways of old palaces and other buildings and asks – why is everything so crowded, why is every little space filled up, where is the blank space, how can one take it all in?

But to an Indian heart and mind,

 

And long after you come back, the beauty of that experience still lingers within, quietly and often without your awareness. It is not really a memory, maybe something more, something subtler. It is a vibration, perhaps. And you know what you need to do to re-experience that vibration.

You just need to go back, no not to the physical space, but that space within where you first felt that touch of delight. You sit quietly and go to that space and recall it.

And the words begin to resonate –

As the Infinite fills every inch of space…

…with the stirring of life and energy…

…because it is the Infinite…

These words reverberate inside, quietly. You let them. You stay in gratitude for that experience, for that vibration.

 

 

Images are of the Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat, India.
All photographs by Suhas Mehra. Please do not reproduce or copy without permission.
The article first appeared on Beloo Mehra’s blog.