Dr. Ananda Reddy’s “Integral Education”, Anirvan’s “Īśā Upanisad” and Dr. Ratri Ray’s “Francis Thompson and Nishikanto: A Study in Mysticism”.

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

It gives me immense pleasure to announce that the following notable books and MP3 are now available at Overman Foundation.

Integral Education

Dr. Ananda Reddy’s Integral Education contains a talk of one hour and thirty minutes on integral education in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Through this talk, the listeners are led to experience the aspects of education in a radically new way and awaken a new attitude towards life. The foundations of integral education, the principles around which it is organized and the various elements involved in it are explained in the said talk.

This MP3 is available at a price of Rs. 200 (Two Hundred) only.

Cover of Isa Upanisad

Shri Anirvan (8 July 1896—31 May 1978) was a great scholar and philosopher who had mastered the Astādhyayi of Pānini at a very early age. After completing his formal education he renounced the world and became Nirvanananda Saraswati. But after a few years he dropped the ochre robes and changed his name to Anirvan by which name he became known to the world at large. He spent a number of years in Lohaghat (Almora) where Madame Lizelle Reymond, a Swiss spiritual seeker, joined him and literally took him to the West through her books. Shri Anirvan later shifted to Shillong in Assam and finally to Kolkata where he spent his last years. His first book was a Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine which was described as a “living translation” by Sri Aurobindo himself.

Īśā Upanisad is the only Upanisad directly connected with Śukla Yajurveda (its last chapter), unlike other Upanisads which are connected with the Brāhmana portion of the Vedas. It is as if a clarion call of the Truth that all works lead to and end in knowledge. In only 18 mantras, we have an all comprehensive integral and harmonious vision and philosophy of Life Divine. Transformation of greed and lust tainted with black and evil works into unattached but strong white-pure and good works and its culmination into the Universal consciousness of an all-embracing Aupanisadic Purusa is the central theme of this Upanisad. The uniqueness of this commentary of Anirvan lies in his wonderful interpretation of the contradictory terms Vidyā (knowledge) and Avidyā (ignorance, rather the unknowable) and Sambhūti (Becoming Birth-Creation) and Asambhūti (Non-Becoming Non-Birth or Vināsa—Destruction). By giving his mystic and yet analytic interpretation, he has boldly brought about a harmony between the two opposite currents of works-Sacrifice and Knowledge and thus established Life Divine on this Earth on sound footing. In the end we have a wonderful unity of Works, Knowledge and Devotion (Karma, Jñāna and Bhakti) as found later in the Bhagavad Gita.

Comprising 156 pages, Īśā Upanisad is available at a price of Rs. 250 (Two Hundred and Fifty) only.

thompson-nishikantoWhile Francis Thompson is renowned for his mystic poetry across the globe, Nishikanto Roychowdhury—one of the greatest Bengali mystic poets of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, whom Sri Aurobindo had described as the “Brahmaputra of Inspiration”—is a comparatively lesser-known name. Dr. Ratri Ray’s Francis Thompson and Nishikanto: A Study in Mysticism tries to establish the universality of mysticism in a particular manner. Nishikanto and Thompson, together, offer the students a very fine subject for comparative study. Thus, after placing Thompson firmly within the tradition of English mystical poetry, a study of his life and poetry is made. In Nishikanto’s case there is no need to stress the existence of mystical tradition in Bengali poetry, since the tradition is an old and venerable one. After a study of his life and poetry, attention is devoted to a comparative estimate which establishes the universality of mysticism, not only in the lives of mystics, but in their works also.

Recipient of “Nolini Kanta Gupta Smriti Puraskar” for the year 2014, Francis Thompson and Nishikanto: A Study in Mysticism comprises 547 pages and is available at a price of Rs. 400 (Four Hundred) only.

To place an order, please write to the following email address:

overmanfoundation@gmail.com

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Advertisements

Hirayama Prize of the French Academy Awarded to Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee

Prithwindra_Mukherjee-Zinal_2011

Dear Friends,

During its session of 13 June 2014, members of the French Academy (Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres) have unanimously awarded the prestigious Prix Hirayama to Paris-based Indian scholar Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee for his recent publications in French: (1) Les racines intellectuelles du mouvement d’independance de l’Inde (1893-1918), Codex Publishers, 2010; (2) Le Spontane : reflection on the Sahaja yana cult through Charya and Bâul Songs, Almora Publishers, 2014; (3) A Shade Sharp, a Shade Flat : trilingual anthology with introduction, notes and 108 poems by Rabindranath Tagore, Shahitya Prakash, Dhaka, 2013.

The Report further stresses that the above-mentioned second book “on the freedom movement received the warmest welcome. Next were the Baul songs… But the pre-Gandhian freedom movement in India was altogether new to them [members of the Academy] and probably for that reason that they paid a greater attention.”

In 2012 the Academy awarded this prize to an illustrated French edition of the Indian epic, Ramayana.

We take the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee for this prestigious award.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

Photographs of André Morisset, the Mother’s Son

Dear Friends,

André Morisset (23.8.1898—29.3.1982) was the Mother’s only son. His father Henri Morisset (6.4.1870—15.11.1956) was a noted French artist. Having received his early education at Lycee Chaptal School, André joined the army in October 1916 as an artillery officer and participated in the First World War. He received, as a reward for his bravery and contribution, several titles of honour which included the Cross of the War 1914-1918 (which he received just after the War), the Cross of the Voluntary Fighters and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (these were received after 1935). In December 1919, he joined École Polytechnique and obtained the title of Ancien éléve de l’ecole polytechnique in August 1921, after which he joined Le Carbone-Lorraine. He was the director of a factory making batteries and other electrical materials for Le Carbone-Lorraine from 1926 to 1939. Later he joined the Industrial Company of Battery Cells and became the honorary President of the company. He was also associated with several foreign and international organizations and established himself very well in the elite society of Paris. On 10 September 1923, he married Wanda and was blessed with two daughters Janine (born on 7 November 1924) and Francoise (19.6.1931—15.3.2008) who was better known as Pournaprema in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. He visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the first time in 1949 and met the Mother after a gap of thirty-three years. In 1956, André established Sri Aurobindo Study Centre; this organization sent teaching materials, class textbooks and other objects to the Ashram School. In that very year, he established the Franco-Indian Union Association with the view of developing commercial, industrial and technological exchanges between France and India. As the Mother wanted India and France to collaborate with each other and show the rest of the world what they were capable of achieving, André worked to realize her dreams. After the demise of Pavitra in 1969, André became the de facto Director of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education and the Mother gave all Her directions through him. When Auroville was established in 1968, he became a channel of communication between Auroville and the Mother.

A set of photographs of André Morisset has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

1André Morisset with the Mother.

2

3André Morisset with Champaklal.

4André Morisset seated on the Mother’s right at the Playground.

5

Same as above.

6

André Morisset seated on the Mother’s right at the Playground.

7[From left to right] Sisir Kumar Mitra, André Morisset, Sujata Nahar, the Mother, Pavitra and Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya.

9[From left to right] Debu Bhattacharya, Udar Pinto, André Morisset, Pavitra, Manoj Das Gupta, Hriday Bhattacharya and Satprem performing “Le Grand Secret”, a play by the Mother, on 1 December 1954.

10Same as above.

Andre, Mona and GauridiAndré Morisset with Mona Pinto and Gauri Pinto.

11André Morisset with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Udar Pinto, Kireet Joshi and Sisir Kumar Mitra at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education on 12 December 1972.

12The Mother with André Morisset and Pavitra.

12.5[From left to right] Kireet Joshi, Kalyan, Prapatti, Udar Pinto, Nolini Kanta Gupta, André Morisset, Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala and Pradyut at the inauguration of Sri Aurobindo’s Action in 1970.

13André Morisset scattering rose petals on the Samadhi on 20 November 1973.

Andre4André Morisset with Nolini Kanta Gupta.

15[From left to right] Wanda (André’s wife), André Morisset, Janine Panier, Pournaprema and Nolini Kanta Gupta.

Photographs Courtesy: the late Pournaprema, Ms. Gauri Pinto and Anurag Banerjee.

*

A Review of Anirvan’s “Buddhi Yoga of the Gita and Other Essays” by Swami Sandarshanananda.

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

Born in the town of Mymensingh in Bangladesh, Shri Anirvan (1896—1978) knew the Astadhyayi of Panini by heart and daily recited a chapter from the Gita by the time he was eleven years of age. After completing his studies, he took sannyasa and became Nirvanananda Saraswati. Later he dropped the ochre robes and changed his name to Anirvan. His first book was a Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine though the centre of his studies was the Vedas on which he had acquired a rare mastery. He is best known for his Veda Mimamsa which was published in three volumes.

A review of Anirvan’s Buddhi Yoga of the Gita and Other Essays authored by Swami Sandarshanananda has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

buddhi yoga of the gita

Buddhi Yoga of the Gita and Other Essays. Author: Anirvan. Number of pages: 236. Price: Rs. 300. Distributor: Overman Foundation.

Mind is quirky by nature. If untamed, it is apt to play havoc. It plays variously according to its ingrained modes and inclinations. The well-known nineteenth century American psychologist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, says: ‘Consciousness never moves along a graded plane’. His observation is corroborated by our ordinary experiences. Our outer consciousness is, actually, in a state of flux, demonstrating our subjection to its in-built tendencies.

Study of the mind is, therefore, not easy. In spite of protracted research, there is hardly any light yet by which one could plumb its depths properly. Intellect, its refined form, nevertheless, functions somewhat in a pattern. When it is at a discriminative stage it is called buddhi. There is no English equivalent to the word buddhi. Yoking buddhi to a rigorous mental process of differentiation between the Real and the unreal in the world, buddhi-yoga is performed. The result thereof is the attenuation of the mental dross and a proportionate refection of the Self within. And, consequent upon a complete obliteration of the dross is the Self-realization per se. In other words, Self-knowledge is attained when buddhi is crystal clear.

Buddhi fundamentally means a refined behaviour, so to say, of the internal instrument, mind, at the psychic as well as cosmic level. When buddhi dawns, it leads a person to the highest good. Hence, buddhi, according to the Gitā, is beyond manas. Sri Anirvan tells us that the mental limitations imposed on ‘the integral spirit can be done away with only when we can live in the higher altitudes beyond mind in the stratosphere of cosmic buddhi.

To deal with a buddhi disturbed by vital questions is always challenging. It is more so when it comes to ascertaining the mental aberrations of a spiritual aspirant. For, a spiritual aspirant is an earnest seeker of truth. He is profoundly distressed by the riddle of death and doesn’t stop short of a satisfactory answer.

The matter of the Gitā happens to be a premise where buddhi and buddhi-yoga have been handled perfectly with certitude. Arjuna is neither obsequious nor intrepid in his search. But he is full of shraddhā. He is a spiritual seeker with the necessary prerequisites such as humility and inquisitiveness. Sri Krishna is therefore serious and unreserved in his tutelage to free Arjuna’s mind immured in myopia. Arjuna’s query begins with a doubt regarding the legitimacy of killing the multitudes, along with his kin, in a battle for enjoying the world.

Sri Anirvan brings out all the delicate issues concerning buddhi and buddhi-yoga on board from the core of the Gitā to their right perspectives. He does it successfully with the help of his excellent erudition and sādhanā. His approach in this book is both analytic and synthetic. He at first makes a sincere survey of all the principal scriptures and philosophies, and then locates how buddhi is being ramified and treated by them in its different aspects.

Sri Anirvan makes its metaphysical aspect transparent to the students of philosophy in precise argument and language. He writes, ‘it has both a psychological and a cosmic aspect, the relation between the two in spiritual realization being that between a means and an end.’

The publication is an anthology of his English writings and the half of its matter contains a rich essay—‘Buddhi Yoga of the Gita’. The rest eight chapters are also quite valuable for his scholarly and insightful dispositions. Only a spiritually advanced soul like him could justly produce such pieces. His life and ideas are soaked in the elevated thoughts of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Wherever he finds opportunity in the course of these writings he makes an allusion to them and upholds their example. He is deeply moved by the reflections of Sri Aurobindo too. There is an article by him in this collection devoted to Sri Aurobindo and the mystery of death. His poems (based on the Vedic texts) available in this work carry a mystical flavour.

Sri Anirvan is highly admired and respected by many for his renunciation, scholarship and spiritual attainment. Ram Swarup elaborately presents him and his achievements in a tributary Introduction which is, undoubtedly, a fitting prelude to the writings of Sri Anirvan.

Swami Sandarshanananda

*

Sri Aurobindo by K. M. Munshi

Dear Friends,

Dr. Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (30 December 1887—8 February 1971) was a famous politician, educationist and author. In 1938 he established Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. He was the Minister for Agriculture and Food in independent India and also served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957.

The text of a speech titled “Sri Aurobindo” which Dr. K. M. Munshi had delivered at Sri Aurobindo Niketan Meeting at the Constitution Club (New Delhi) on 16 August 1951 has been uploaded in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Sri Aurobindo

K. M. Munshi

The life and work of Sri Aurobindo are encyclopaedic; his personality and achievements have different facets; at least five different facets: the man, the man of action, the man of letters, the seer and the Yogi.

Gifted with a vast intellect, great and noble emotions and unbounded aspirations, his ambition was to measure the immeasurable. Unflinching in his devotion to duty on the threshold of life, he made a plan of life and pursued it steadfastly. Later, the sense of duty grew and he embraced man, in all his aspects, with a parent’s ceaseless solicitude.

He was an artist of life. As a professor, as I knew him, perfect; as a patriot, he was a passionate devotee of the Motherland in 1907 quivering with passionate longing for her freedom and greatness. On 9th July 1950, when I last saw him, he was a thing of living beauty in his voice, manner and dress. His personality had assumed a beauty far surpassing that which we associate with human beings.

Was Aurobindo a man of action? It is a superficial view which identifies a man of action necessarily with restless hours, ceaseless jostling with men, with public meetings, and newspaper headlines. If action implies power to move men, Aurobindo was a great Karmayogi. He left the coveted career of a Civil Servant to work for the country. As an obscure professor, he, in his “New Lamps for Old” first raised the unequivocal battle-cry of “Freedom”. During the Partition of Bengal days he actually joined the National Movement, gave up service and prospects, started ‘Bandemataram’, established a Technological Institute, made men dance to the tune of his powerful pen and voice driving them to action. He moved thousands to take to boycotting British goods, singing the Vande Mataram. He went to jail, and in view of his connection—distant though not intimate with the first terrorist movement—he risked his life.

Then he retired. ‘Retired’ is not the proper word, for, by his sudden withdrawal from direct contact, he made his pen and personality the media of galvanising men’s mind and action. Did Aurobindo inspire men to action? His personality became integrated; the spark of action was communicated not by physical contact, but by words, by the imponderable power of an integrated personality, a medium of action more powerful than word or pen or social contact. In distant parts of the world, his words echoed in devoted hearts impelling them to make experiments with life itself.

As a man of letters, Sri Aurobindo was one of the greatest literary men of any time. He has written on almost all subjects of intellectual and emotional interest. His poems have a boldness of imagination almost unequalled in modern literature. Imbued with the best traditions of Greek and Sanskrit literature, he was the master of the living phrase of beauty. Few now know the scathing sarcasm, the passionate denunciation, the biting incisiveness of the leaders of the Bande Mataram when he slashed the Moderate Politicians of India in 1905 and 1907. In those days, his words were power-winged shafts, with envenomed tips. In his letter to his disciples later, we find a rare affection, a light touch, an endearing solicitude. In some of his early speeches like that of Uttarpara, the heart-going directness and simplicity overwhelms the soul with the inspiring, far-visioned compelling power of a Master; he often spoke and wrote, as was said of Jesus, ‘with authority’.

For the ordinary reader, his philosophic works are too difficult. Even a student of philosophy finds Aurobindo’s thoughts moving in a sphere of distinctive ideas and it becomes difficult to follow their line unless one is familiar with the world in which he lived and had his being.

As a Seer, he was one of the greatest in the world. He tried to sense the beautiful in word and phrase and life and personality. He was the first in India to squarely see the conflict between India and Britain. He was again the first to envisage a vast struggle to drive out the British. After the Russo-Japanese War, he first gave us the slogan—“Asia for Asiatics”. During the Partition of Bengal Movement, he made of the drawing room nationalism of the day, a militant and powerful all-embracing emotion. He invested the boycott of British goods with a new political significance. With vivid passion he made ‘Vande Mataram’ a ‘Mantra’ of undying martyrdom to secure the freedom and glory of India. He was the first again to emphasise that Indian freedom can only come by non-violent action, though in principle, at appropriate places, he declined to abjure violence. He prophesied that after him will come someone who will achieve which he could not. [1]

He brought the whole range of Indian culture under his transvaluing gaze. He found a new meaning in our art, our poetry, our classics, our religious and social movements. He has been the Prophet of Indian Renaissance.

More, he drank deep at the fountain source of Indian thought and religion and helped in the secularisation of the Hindu religious sentiment. In the Motherland, he found the deity of his heart. In being ready to invite martyrdom for Her freedom and glory, he discovered Karma Yoga; and when in the Uttarpara speech, he said ‘Nationalism is Sanatana Dharma and Sanatana Dharma is Nationalism’, he restored to India the universal creed for the uplift of man for which she had lived during the ages. Sanatana Dharma to him was not the castes, the creeds, the temples and the rituals. It was the one and the universal law embracing humanity in one elevating and sweeping movement of the Spirit.

He gave a new value to the Vedas. He saw beyond the philosophies of all ages and produced a system more comprehensive than what had been formulated by Shankar or Kant or Spencer. And like a true Prophet, he replanted philosophy in the realities of life, and uplifted the reality of crude existence into a continuum of matter and life and mind seeking to evolve Over-mind and ready to bring forth a new race of beings working to realise the Super-Mind to replace the present inferior race.

He saw into the hearts of things. In July, 1950, for over twenty minutes he spoke to me on contemporary affairs with a thorough grasp of what was happening in the world. His perception of the political situation in India was always unerring. When the World War came in 1939 and when the whole country wanted to maintain neutrality, it was he of the unerring eye who said that the triumph of England and France was the triumph of the divine forces over the demonic forces. We were very angry, but it was a fact. If the Allies had not won, the darkness of Fascism would have descended upon mankind.

He spoke again when Sir Stafford Cripps came with his first proposal. He said: ‘India should accept it’. We rejected the advice. We who rejected it had some reasons for it, but today we realise that if the first proposal had been accepted, there would have been no partition, no refugees and no Kashmir problem.

Last year he expressed himself in favour of supporting the United Nations in the Korean War. He was again right. In the United Nation’s action in Korea, the civilised world, for the first time, combined to fight an unjustified aggression. For the first time, a composite world action became a reality and, but for United Nation’s action, it would have been a different world today.

Last year he talked to me of India and Pakistan. In a prophetic vein he said ‘they will be united’. I respectfully demurred. He added ‘Pakistan must be brought within the ambit’. Yes, of cooperation and allied strength. But when?

I come to the last facet of Sri Aurobindo—that of a Yogi. I saw from 1904 to 1906, how the Europeanised Professor took to Yoga. We took to finding out what Yoga was, because our professor, under whose influence we were, had taken to Yoga. Few can speak of a Yogi, without having studied and practised in Yoga. But I knew the gentleman under whom he began to study; and he was an adept. At the first effort, 45 years ago, Sri Aurobindo attained a stage higher than most students in Yoga. In 1909 he communed with God and that led him to change in life. For 40 years he ceaselessly reached towards progressive realisation. His letters to his pupils are the only practical hints on Yoga in our voluminous literature on Yoga, showing a mastery over the whole range of transformation both of the mind and the spirit into Divine Consciousness. All his writings indicate that complete universality of outlook, that active movement of the spirit, that freedom from fear, wrath and attachment—which are the high privilege of the Emancipated. The descent of the Divine Consciousness which he teaches is itself the result of an experience achieved in a bold endeavour to reach unexplored regions of the Spirit. A Yogi is the one who attempts an ascent to Divine Consciousness. An Avatar is the one who is born in Divine Consciousness. Perhaps Aurobindo is the only Yogi who individually achieved an ascent to Divine Consciousness and attempted to bring it down for collective good. Heir to Ramakrishna he has given to Indian culture a fresh vigour and a new validity, and, to the world, a message of hope.

And here we are in a region where the ordinary faculties of man stand dumb-founded, in all humility.

*

[1] A Note: What Sri Aurobindo actually said was that he “was compelled to recognise that the nation was not yet sufficiently trained to carry out his policy and programme… he saw that the hour of these movements had not come and that he himself was not their destined leader.”

*