In the Light of ...|Aug 17, 2003 9:25 AM| by:

Not Just Another Day

August 15th, 1947 – India achieved her Independence.

And so this becomes our I-Day special.

But what makes it even more significant, beautiful and special, is that it is also Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. Coincidence? Maybe. But some of us like to believe that’s just how it had to be. No ordinary day, this.

Its an ancient nation, yes, but we don’t think of it as one except in the course of intellectual dissertation. And so Independence day is important because it is a date that people today can relate to much more than to the Ashokan era or the even more distant Vedic period. However, increasingly over the years, our annual rituals on this day have taken on a more perfunctory role and thus, it will come as no surprise if down the line, people forget the magnitude or relevance of the 15th of August.

In order to not let things come to such a head, it becomes imperative to answer the most important question: what is a nation or that which we call Motherland?

“ It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation…”

A “mighty Shakti” according to Sri Aurobindo… a living force, a vibrant, pulsating life that exists not just above the soil encased within fences but under the surface, always flowing through the rivers, incessantly blowing in the wind from mountain to valley, ever protective and sheltering, electrifying and eternal – that is what India is as a Mother to her children, and we the offspring are nothing save the emanations of that supreme Shakti. Pre-independence found many who shared or professed such sentiment regarding their country for indeed how else could Bande Mataram have been born, the very signature tune to such a passion? But today, it seems melodramatic to feel this way or express such an emotion. Indeed, at times, one is almost embarrassed to come across it.

This is an attitude that we desperately need to eradicate. It is only when India’s true significance is understood by her people, only when they see her as a living entity, a goddess to be worshipped, that progress on all fronts, a movement towards the future and a true liberation can come about. Says Sri Aurobindo more than a century ago,

“The deeper we look, the more we shall be convinced that the one thing wanting, which we must strive to acquire before all others, is strength- strength physical, strength mental, strength moral, but above all strength spiritual which is the one inexhaustible and imperishable source of all the others.”

How long will it be before we achieve this ideal is not for us to speculate on but instead if one lived the ideal for oneself, perhaps by sheer contagion, the process would accelerate towards its natural climax. He continues to say, “Spiritual power in the present creates material power in the future and for this reason we always find that if it is material force which dominates the present, it is spiritual which moulds and takes possession of the future…

Since the spiritual life of India is the first necessity of the world’s future, we fight not only for our own political and spiritual freedom but for the spiritual emancipation of the human race… For it is not among an enslaved, degraded and perishing people that the Rishis and great spirits can continue to be born.”

The great Rishis, one amongst whom was Sri Aurobindo.

The Mother had said,

“India has become the symbolic representation of all the difficulties of modern mankind. India will be the land of its resurrection – the resurrection to a higher and truer life.”

She also said,

“To express our gratitude to Sri Aurobindo we can do nothing better than to be a living demonstration of his teaching.”

Let this then be our gift on this momentous occasion – an occasion that gave birth to greatness and hope for the life of a nation, the life of Man.